In the final message of this 3-part series discussing the Holy Spirit, Todd examines what it looks like when the Holy Spirit resides in our heart. He outlines 6 things the Holy Spirit does in the life of a believer which include: producing fruit, providing teaching, giving Gifts, producing an attitude of thankfulness, leading us, and creating intimacy with God.
What Being Filled with the Spirit Does
What Being Filled with the Spirit Is
What Being Filled with the Spirit Isn't
Father, I thank you for my friends who are here and for folks I haven't met yet. It is true, if you are who you said you are and your Spirit does what he says he will do, then you will bring your peace to me. If there's anything we need in our world today, it is peace. Peace in our hearts flowing like a river to our souls.
As much as we're not experiencing that this morning, I pray you'd use this time to either introduce us to the Spirit of peace, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, or to allow us to appropriate that which is already there, so we might be individuals who can testify to your goodness in a way the world is desirous and created to want. Thanks for this opportunity this morning to look in that direction and understand what it means or what happens when your Spirit resides in our hearts. In Christ's name, amen.
As I mentioned, we are in the middle of a little three-week series (we're going to end it today, actually) called The Low Down on Fillin' Up. We get that little title from a section of Scripture that comes from Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 18, that we've looked at now for a couple of weeks, where we are exhorted to not be "…drunk with wine, for that is dissipation…"
Meaning, that deludes you. It makes you less sharp than you ought to be, duller, not equipped to function in the way you were created. In contrast to that, be filled with something else. Be continually controlled by the Spirit of God. Don't just be sober. Be sober in your understanding of your need to have a relationship with the living God.
Now, if you're here this morning, and you're somebody who is in process with the faith, we want to let you know what we're going to walk through today are some things that should be happening in the lives of those of us who already believe. What we're going to testify to, and as much as you don't see these things in our lives, it's not because God isn't real. It's because we are not people who obey the command of Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 18.
We don't take that imperative command to receive the gift continually in a consciously, increasingly, appropriated way, as we abide by faith in him, so we don't experience that peace flowing through our souls. We don't experience that power. We don't experience the fruit. We don't get to use the gifts God gave us in a way that will exalt and honor him. What I'm going to show you today is what ought to happen if you come into a relationship with Christ.
The last two weeks, what we've done is we've talked about what it isn't. We've talked about how it's not something you seek separate and apart from a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. It is something that happens at the moment of belief. The gift of the Spirit is the same as the baptism of the Spirit.
It's a universal blessing everybody gets, where there's unconditional residence in our hearts that God takes, not for a select few who seek it, but for any who seek Christ and have a relationship with him and his Spirit, who resides in us and then produces certain things. We're going to talk about that today.
We talked the second week about what it is, being filled with, and we used a ton of cross‑references in the Scripture. We saw it was no small idea God had out there, that we should be continually filled with, consciously and increasingly, his Spirit. We talked about how we do that. How we need to be men and women moved by the Spirit, as a sail that is set appropriately to the wind and driven by the wind.
We need to be meshed with the Spirit, just like a hand fills a glove and makes that glove useful. We need to be mastered by the Spirit, meaning we are filled with, controlled by… Much like you see certain people controlled with rage or controlled with lust or controlled with envy. What it means to be mastered by the Spirit is to be controlled by him.
What does the life look like, though, that is mastered by this Spirit, this Helper? Let me remind you what Christ had to say about the Spirit. When he was talking to his disciples and he was explaining to them that it was going to be a good thing he was, in fact, going to be in relationship with the Father…specifically ascended to be in his presence…this is what he said.
In John, chapter 14 (to set this back up), he said, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper…" Implying, "Look. I've been here to help you to make your way through life." Many of us, if we thought, "Boy, if I could live at any time in history, I would go back 2,000 years ago, and I would live when God lived on this earth. I would walk with him, be in relationship with him, and hang around him every chance I got to learn how to relate to people and, specifically, to receive from him what he wanted me to have."
With him telling his disciples that because he loved them, he was going to give up his life for them, they obviously were concerned. "Well, what's going to happen now that this great gift from God is going to leave us? The Anointed One, the Messiah, Jesus, God in the flesh is going. What's going to happen?"
He says, "Listen. The Father is going to send you another Helper." "…that He may be with you forever…" Not just for 33 years and then 40 days after the resurrection, but somebody who is going to be with you until the end of the age. "…that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive…" Why? "…because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." See that? That's a promise universally to all believers.
This is what he says will happen in John 15, verse 26. He says, "When the Helper comes…" Another name for the Holy Spirit. "…whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me…" In fact, one of the things that's going to happen in here this morning, if you don't know Christ, is the Spirit of God is going to be striving with you.
He's going to be testifying to you and convicting you of your lack of relationship with him, of the reality of your separation from God because of your own willful choices, and the consequences of that in judgment. That's the role of the Spirit. He's going to testify to the reality of who Christ is in your heart. Certain folks will reject it, and other folks will consider it and continue to say, "God, if you're there, show yourself to me and make me unable to avoid the testimony of who you are through your Spirit, through your people, through your Word."
This is what else Jesus said in chapter 16. "Not only will the Helper come, but it's going to better for you that I go away." Can you imagine that? Again (I mentioned this now a couple of times), if Christ came to you and said, "Hey. I'm visiting here today. I'm in Dallas. I'll do one of two things. I'll either candidate to be your pastor, or I can leave and send you the Holy Spirit." Most of us would probably say, "Man, stay and be our pastor. That would change our church like nothing else." Can you imagine the impact we'd have if Jesus was our pastor?
In effect, he would say, "That's a trick question, folks, because if you want me to be your pastor, it's better for you that I'm not your pastor but that I fill your pastor and fill you. With every single one of you in a continually abiding, unconditional relationship and my taking unconditional residence in your heart on an ongoing basis, the same thing you would have if you were with me physically, you can have when you're alone. I'm not limited by geography. I can be with each of you individually. You don't have to call and make an appointment. It's better that I go." Can you imagine that? That's what he is saying.
Then he goes on to say, "In fact, you need to know so much about this Helper who is coming and what he is going to accomplish, that if you try and do what I'm asking you to do without the Helper, you're going to fail miserably." After Jesus was crucified, dead and buried, resurrected on the third day, after he told the story to those apostles walking with him on that road to Emmaus where their hearts burned within them with the truth and testimony of who he was, Jesus then gathered with many of them before he ascended. This is what he said. Watch this. Luke 24:45-49:
"Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.'" They have already happened. Now watch what he says. "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
If you ever want to, you ought to take a Saturday or some afternoon, and you ought to go the Museum of Biblical Art at Boedeker and Northwest Highway. You ought to drop six bucks, and you ought to go in there. There's a painting about the size of our wall, and it's called the Miracle at Pentecost. There's about a 30-minute production in there where they talk to you and show you what it was like the very first time, historically, that the Spirit was sent.
You have to understand, these are people who believe in Jesus, but the Spirit had not yet been sent to all believers. Historically, there was an event that happened one time, which was in Acts, chapter 2, where the gift of the Spirit of God came for the first time. He dwelt inside those men. The Miracle at Pentecost is this great painting, a man's life work. They do a great job of narrating behind it. It's a good way to sit and meditate on the idea that what those men waited for, you receive the moment you believe.
Jesus said, "If you try, men, to go out and be faithful because of your love for me… You've seen the resurrected Christ. You're talking to the resurrected Christ, but you can't be the people you want to be without my Spirit." In much the same way he'd say to us, "Look. I can be your pastor, but you still won't be the kind of church I want you to be without my Spirit. It's better than I go." This is what it says in Acts, chapter 1, verse 8, the very last thing Christ said.
When he's leaving, he is impressing upon his disciples, "Look. I'm not leaving you as orphans. That which you need to be the people you want to be, to experience the peace you want to experience, will come. You will receive power when he gets there. Only then will you be able to be my people," which is to say, "Be my witnesses, in the city you're in, the region you'll go to, and the entire world." When? "As you learn what it means to be filled with the Spirit." Do you understand the role and the significance of the Spirit? Christ is saying, "You got it. Now use it."
Here's what I want to do with you this morning. Take that Watermark News and look on the back of it. At the very bottom of it, you're going to find right there six different phrases that are phrases that describe what should happen in your life when the Spirit is appropriated in your life. I'm going to walk you through these biblically. What I'm going to ask you to do is grade yourself from zero, meaning, "I don't see the Spirit doing that in my life at all," all the way up to five, meaning, "He does this in a pretty significant way in my life all the time," you might say.
What we'll do at the very end of this is give you a way to assess, "How am I doing at living in relationship with the Spirit? How am I doing at being this kind of person?" Let's go right into it. These are things the Spirit does in the life of the believer according to the Scripture. The very first thing he does is the one that might be the most obvious to most of us, that we've heard about the longest.
1 . He produces fruit. I want to share with you again. Notice this is singular. It doesn't say, "He produces fruits," plural. In other words, "At different times he'll give you this. At different times, he'll give you that." Where the Spirit of Christ is, where God is in control, where God is reigning in a heart, where God is evident, there will always be these nine things, at least. Whether they are representative of all you could describe that is about God, or whether they are just descriptive of some is really irrelevant. We'll take the nine. If you add a few more, that's great.
This is what it says in Galatians. Watch this. "But the fruit…" Again, see that is singular. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love…" If your life, at any given moment, is not marked by love, if somebody could not say, "That is a loving act right there. What you're doing is motivated by and driven by love," (that doesn't mean what the person wants; it means by what's best for that person) then you're not filled with the Spirit.
If your life is not identified and yoked with peace, if you are filled with stress, anxiety, anxiousness, then at that given moment you are not a person who is filled with the Spirit. If you're not marked by patience in the midst of a frustrating world; if kindness isn't associated with your name; if goodness, purity, wholeness, what is right, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; if those things don't mark you…
At that moment when you feel anger welling up, you feel lust taking over, you have a decision to make. "Am I going to let my flesh run and all that is normal to my world, or am I going to be an individual who will now appropriate the power of God that is in me through a faith relationship with Jesus Christ? Am I going to allow God to pursue sovereignty in my life? Therefore, I will not be filled with lust. I will not continue down this path. I will not choose to watch that. I will not choose to think that way. I will not choose to express myself in anger." That's a moment-by-moment decision we make.
One of the easiest things you can do sometimes, as a loving friend in a loving way is, when you start to see somebody start to go a certain way in communication, say, "Let me ask you a question. Are you, right now, checking in with God? Are you available to him? Is what you are doing right now guided by the Spirit? Because if not, then this conversation is not going to bring us closer together. It's going to drive us further apart. I'd rather you take some time alone and let me get some time alone, and both of us ask that God would be sovereignly evident in our lives. Then, let's come back together and have this conversation."
I'm going to tell you, husbands and wives, if you would practice this, it would radically transform your relationship like nothing else. Is it normal and okay to be frustrated to the hilt, to be tempted to be filled with anger? Yes. Is it okay to let that anger rule in your life? Absolutely not. What we have to do, sometimes, when we run into those areas of conflict in our marriages, in our relationships, in our friendships, is we have to say, "Look. Time out right now. I cannot act toward you, right now, the way I want to act toward you. What I need is some time alone."
My wife and I practice this a lot. When we get to a place when we see we are both, right then… I'm filled with "Todd," filled with self-exaltation, self-defense, whatever it might be, or she's filled with hurt or she's filled with revenge or she's filled with her own deal and issue of entitlement…what we have to do is say, "You know what? This is going nowhere fast. It's going to bring about isolation and disunity in our lives." We say, "Let's hang on a second," and we split. I go one way. She goes another. But I don't just kick on ESPN and watch the rest of the game. She doesn't go upstairs and return emails. She doesn't get busy doing housework.
We both go, get alone with the Lord, and say, "God, unless you come into my life and sovereignly get control, I'm going to go explain to her why I'm right and she's wrong. I'm going to go straighten her out. I'm going to use physical intimidation or verbal advantage and bring her to a place of need." Or she'll go away, and she'll say, "I'll show Todd. He wants to make me feel that way? I'll show him what that looks like when you have somebody you're hurting. I'll isolate more from him. I'll clam up."
Then we begin this little contest of the will, which brings about the very opposite of what God says he wants in our relationship, which is oneness. It brings about isolation. What we do, is we get alone. Then, when one of us is ready, we kind of say, "All right. Listen. I'm ready to communicate with you when you want to communicate with me." Often, one person says, "Well, I'm not there yet, thank you very much." To quote Terri Clark, "I just wanna be mad for a while."
You know what we say to that? "Fine. As long as you're mad alone with the Lord. You tell him what a jerk I am." Until he says, "I know that. That's why I died to save the brother. Now you go love him, and you accept his offer of forgiveness and his request for forgiveness." Then we come back together. When we do that, I'm going to tell you something. Our conflict goes right out the window.
I start my conversation with my wife, not like, "Okay. What did he show you is wrong with you?" That's not how I start. I start with the log in my eye. I say, "I need to ask your forgiveness for what I did here. I could have handled this a lot better. Will you forgive me for my tone, my body language, my attitude, my insensitivity, my lack of communication, my decision to marry you in the first place? All these things are terribly wrong." No. I don't say that last thing. Okay?
I go in humility. I figure out what I did wrong. I start with the, "Will you forgive me?" Then, she responds in the same way. Then, we tenderly move back toward each other. Is it okay to touch, or are the quills still up? Can I give her a hug? I'm going to tell you. That's a regular occurrence at the Wagner household. It is with siblings. It is with parents and children. It is with friends. It is with husband and wife.
There is an easy answer to the question, "Todd, right now, in the way you're talking, in the way you're thinking, the way you're about to speak, are you filled with the Spirit?" No. God says to me, "Are you going to be, or are you going to just reap destruction right now in your home, in your place of business?" If those things aren't there, you are not evidencing the fruit of the Spirit.
Notice that it is a fruit of the Spirit. This is not the fruit of self-control. This is not saying, "I'm going to be a godly man. Here I go. All right," and in my flesh just going for it. It is not the fruit of spiritual discipline and determination. It is the fruit of relationship with God in humility before him.
It's the fruit of the Spirit. Not of Bible study. Not of self-discipline. This is not me saying, "I will honor Christ." This is me saying, "Lord, I need you right now to be sovereign in my life. It's not about what I do, what I want, how I feel, but by faith I'm going to allow you to love somebody I don't want to love right now."
All right. Look at your Watermark News. Rank yourself zero to five. Some of you guys might say, "That's never my experience. I don't ever go to God and say, 'Guide me through this.'" Again, remember this. You don't pray for patience. You don't pray for self-control. What do you do? "God, I need to be, right now, available to your Spirit. As I'm available to your Spirit, then at that moment, all those things will be there." When the Spirit is there, love is there. Joy is there. Patience is there. Peace is there. Zero to five. How would you rate yourself on a regular, ongoing basis? Let me show you something else the Spirit should do. Not only does he produce fruit, but…
2 . He provides teaching. This is really a great little deal right here. This is what Jesus said in John 16. He said, "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come."
By the way, this is the answer to the question…How can fallible men write an infallible book? How can finite men write a book filled with infinite, eternal truths? What's the answer? The answer is God in his sovereignty decided to use finite man to be vessels through which he would communicate his infinite truth. He would take imperfect men and give them perfect truth. Not through dictation, but he would allow them to be, if you will, meshed with him in a way that he produced something.
You need to know. Every letter Paul wrote was not Scripture, but there were certain times God worked in and through Paul to produce something he said, "That is perfect and infallible and true. I will preserve it supernaturally, and it will have a product and produce that come from it that no other writings of Paul or any other men will ever have. I'll call it Romans," because it's his letter to the Romans.
There were other letters to other churches God had Paul write that he didn't use in the exact same way. Was it written by a godly man who wanted to honor Christ in the writing of that letter? Certainly. But God, in his sovereignty, wasn't going to put that book aside and canonize it, make it a standard of measure of truth. That's what canon means: standard or measure.
He will teach, it says. In John 14:26, it says, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things…" Now watch this. He'll teach you everything you need to know. You're not going to be lacking in something. How does God teach us? I'm going to tell you there are four primary ways God teaches us stuff.
The first one is through his Word, the Bible, that he has given us through men whom he has decided to record truth in a way that it would help others for centuries to follow. Secondly, sometimes he teaches us through what I would say are inner-promptings or convictions. There are times when I'm going, "I'm convinced this is what God would have me do," but when I get that inner prompting or conviction where the Spirit is teaching me something, what should I always do?
I should check that with God's Word, because the Spirit is not going to contradict himself. God is not the author of confusion, so when I get a leaning, an inner prompting… In other words, say I'm single, and I met this really cute girl. Man, she's a lot of fun. We hit it off, but I find out she is not somebody who is passionately in love with Jesus Christ and pursuing him with her life.
What I should not do is go onto my knees and say, "God, I don't know what to do with Fawn, who I just met. I really like Fawn. Wonderful girl. Strange name, but she is beautiful. I think she and I could make some sweet music together. Wow. That would be awesome. Especially, the fact that she's a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, Lord. If she came to Christ through our relationship, that would be something else. Lord, I want to know what I should do here. Should I continue my relationship with Fawn or not? I'll tell you what. If the next three lights are green, that'll confirm you want me to continue in this relationship."
So, you drive about 12 miles an hour on a 40-mile-an-hour road. Green. Green. "All right, Lord! Here we go." Get on the cell phone. Call her up. Ask her out. I am convinced. I prayed. I looked for a sign. But what didn't I do? I didn't take God's Word that was going to say, "Todd, you know what? Let me tell you about those inner promptings and convictions, brother. It's called self-interest, self-justification.
I've already told you what you should do with gals like Fawn. That's great you've met her. It's great you've, maybe, developed a relationship with her. You introduce her as quick as you can to other gals who love Christ who are around you who can begin to form a friendship with her and take it forward. You're not my man there. Your interests are muddled there, a bit. Let's get you over here." He'll teach you through the Bible, through inner promptings and convictions.
Thirdly, he'll teach you through other people. Other folks will come alongside you sometime, and even if they don't say, "Hey, man. I have a word of the Lord for you…" Which is not language we typically use around here, and I'm glad because you'd better be careful before you quote God. But sometimes other folks will say, "You know what? I really think wisdom would have you consider this." God will use that. You're crazy to remove that kind of encouragement in your life. What you want to do when somebody is saying, "I think wisdom would have you do this," is…what? Check it with the Bible.
Same thing with the fourth thing, circumstances. Sometimes circumstances are such that you can get a leading and go, "You know what? This is what the Lord would have me do. It feels like that's an open door. I should continue to go through it." Or, "Boy, there's little resistance right there, but what should I do?"
I should check that with community. I should check that with my inner promptings and convictions, and I should always check it with God's Word. One last place, he speaks in us. Let me show you something that's great. When you walk with Christ by faith on a regular basis, this is what he says in Matthew, chapter 10. He says:
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for [I will teach you] it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."
Let me give you a little balance to this verse. What he's saying is, "If you love me and you're my man, you're my woman, you're faithful to walking in relationship with me, and you sometimes go, "I just wish I had the right words to love this friend…" I get calls all the time from people who say, "Man, Todd, I wish you could meet my friend. I wish you could come to lunch with us because you have the right words to say to that friend."
I want to say, "You know what? You're the one with the relationship with your friend. You study God's Word. You be in relationship with him. You be learning, yourself, as a believer. When you get with them, you pray God will use you to love them exactly the way God wants you to love them. If God needs to bring somebody else along in their life, eventually he will. But you go, and you love them. You pray, 'God, use me. Give me the right words to say. It's not up to me anyway. It's up to your Spirit to convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment. It's my job to be a faithful, available vessel to you.'"
On the other side of that are guys who sometimes… Believe me. There are men who do this, who just say, "God, you know what? I have to preach on Sunday again, and I sure hope you show up and tell me what I should say when I'm delivered up before my governors and my people." There's an old joke about a pastor who did that. He got up there one Sunday, and he got ready to pray. He got ready to preach.
He said, "Lord, you tell me when we're delivered up, we'll have something to say. Tell me, what should I tell my body this week?" The Spirit whispered in his ear, "You tell them you're not prepared. That's what you should tell them." "Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it…" That doesn't mean we shouldn't labor to build the house. It means we know no matter how much we study, if God is not in it, that house is going to fall.
People ask me sometimes… In fact, I think just this week I was talking to some of my friends. They were saying, "Todd, do you ever get the sense God is really using you in a particular conversation?" I just shared. I said, "Yeah. Honestly, I really do. I do have that sense sometimes." In fact, there are times when I'm sharing with somebody, I'm in a moment where…
I've walked into some pretty horrific situations before. Kind of like, "Oh my gosh. What am I going to say?" Often, I've found in those situations, I don't say very much. The less I say, the more I minister, but there are times when folks are really saying, "We have trouble here. We'd like you to speak into our lives. We are ready to go a different direction than God would have us go, but we don't think that's wise. We're going to spend a little bit of time with you before we ultimately go that way."
There are times in those meetings when I'm there with other friends (I always try and be with a couple of folks in those kinds of situations) where I find myself saying something that afterwards I go, "I'm going to write that down." Not because it was a new insight, but because the way I said it communicated and connected to that person, and I want to remember to say it that way again the next time. I do believe God sometimes forms words and gives you sentences or gives you illustrations or stories that connect with people in a way.
I do that all the time on a Sunday over a Scripture. I go, "Lord, how can I creatively communicate this to the church? It would be enough if I just read it, but I want to communicate this in a way that will give impact, Lord." Somehow those illustrations…how that meshed with, moved by, mastered by, and things like that…sometimes come. They help me, so I think maybe they'll help you get your arms around this very difficult concept.
That's the Lord doing what he says he's going to do. He teaches us. It's God at work. How many times do you have that experience, zero to five, that you really go, "You know what? The Lord taught me in this. He gave me an insight, gave me a perspective." Rate yourself. Here's another one. What should the Spirit produce in your life? Not only does the Spirit produce fruit. Not only does the Spirit personally teach us…
3 . He also passes out gifts. Let me show you what this says in the Scripture, in 1 Corinthians 12. It says, "But to each one [to everyone] is given the manifestation [an evidence] of the Spirit for the common good." Notice why you're given the spiritual gifts. Not so you can make hay. Not so you can impress others. But for the good of other people. That's why God gives you a specific ability or gift.
"For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills."
What it's saying here is God gives us all different spiritual gifts he wants us to use. Some of the gifts he's used and mentioned here that were more the miraculous gifts are consistent with what God did all through the Scriptures. Whenever you see a new work of God splashing onto the scene, you see more miracles than you do later on. I can take you through every major revelation of God.
Who gave us the first word from God we had in a way that we could say, "This is from God. We should listen to it"? Who came with that? A guy named Moses wrote it down on two tablets. What was highly associated with Moses' ministry early on? A bunch of authenticating works. In other words, Moses, who had a speech problem, was told by God to go and stand before Pharaoh and lead his people, two million of them, from bondage in Egypt. What did he do? Moses came along and said, "Okay. G-g-god, I'm not really good to speak, and what words should I have?"
God says, "What do you have?" Moses said, "Well, I have this staff." God said, "That'll do." Literally with a stick. God used that stick, as Moses made himself available to him, to lead two million people free from the greatest power in the world at the time. Early in Moses' ministry, if you go back and look, there were all kinds of miracles associated with it, but later in his life, there were less and less and less. Why? Because God had already established, "This is my servant. Listen to him."
Later, men got away from listening to the word of God Moses and others had given, so God sent prophets. It was the beginning of prophets, primarily associated with Elijah and Elisha. When you look at Elijah and Elisha's ministries, you'll see as the prophets… There were a lot of miraculous works associated with them early in their ministries.
After it was affirmed that God speaks through men, "Thus saith the Lord…" through the authenticating works of raising people from the dead, the authenticating work of calling down fire from heaven, the authenticating work of raising up an ax handle from the middle of a lake, the authenticating works of…on and on, these amazing things God did with Elisha and Elijah…the miracles tapered off. God had already established, "This is the way I'm communicating," early on.
The next main revelation of God was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Who was that? Jesus, the Christ. If you look at Jesus' ministry, the first part of Jesus' ministry there are a ton of authenticating miracles. Then he goes, "That's it. God has already established who I am, so there are not going to be any more of these miraculous ongoing gifts. There will be one more sign. It's the sign of the resurrection," a rather miraculous thing.
You'll see that there were more miraculous gifts with each of the major revelations of God. What's the major revelation of God today? The Spirit of God living and breathing and operating through his church. How do we know there are people who took the name of Christ, faithfully responded to it, and then will carry his torch forward in truth? God authenticated the miracle of the church early on through many of the same miracles.
Peter did what Elijah did. Paul did what Peter did, to establish that these are men worthy of being followed and that, in fact, the church is God's institution for a time to carry forward that banner and torch of truth. That's why you see some of the miraculous gifts, just like in every other major manifestation of the Spirit and God's revelation, going away after a time.
Jesus says the abiding miracle of the New Testament church is going to be the sign… Not of tongues or of an individual with the gift of healing. Which doesn't mean he might heal four of you in this room with psoriasis, a couple of you who might have dandruff, and will leave wheelchairs and cancer patients all strung out before us.
It means every time I pray for you to be healed, you are healed completely, immediately, and fully. That's the gift of healing. You just don't see that happening today. Is that because God can't heal? No. We pray he would, but is there anybody with this gift? We have not seen it.
I showed a little film clip three weeks ago of Benny Hinn, who is probably now one of the more famous men who folks say they can go to and get healed. Do you know there are individuals who have offered Benny Hinn $10,000 if he can prove even one person, through his ministry, has been healed? Benny hasn't collected the $10,000. In case you missed it, Benny is interested in collecting $10,000 every chance he gets. That's why he encouraged you a few weeks ago to give $77 to him to "activate your miracle."
We don't see these gifts, not because God couldn't do them. God could make me talk like a chicken if he wanted to, right now, and have you understand it and be impressed with it, but he has said, "Do you know what the mark is going to be that I'm there and that I'm affecting a miraculous work?" Answer: love like this world has never seen before. That's the mark of the presence of Christ in this day and age, and that each of us would have a gift, and we would serve.
Do you know what your spiritual gift is? Are you using it to glorify God and serve the body? Rate yourself zero to five. I know my gift. I know how God has created me as a servant, as a giver, as somebody with empathy, the gift of mercy. I have the gift of hospitality. I love to greet and warm welcome, make people feel at home. I have the gift of administration or leadership. I have the gift of teaching. I have the gift of speaking the truth in love. On and on the Scriptures describe a number of different gifts. Do you know what your gift is? Do you see yourself actively using it in a way that is affirmed by the body? Zero to five. Here's another one.
4 . When the Spirit is present in your life, there's going to be a general attitude of thankfulness. Why is that there? It's because no matter what the circumstances in your life, there's an awareness of his sovereignty, his goodness, his coming, his recompense, his empathy with you where you are, and you will be filled with a sense of assurance even when things are not as they should be.
That is why, tonight, I want you guys to know something. We are praying we're going to have raised $24 million in cash in three weeks. All right? We're going to pray that, at the very least, we raise enough to buy the property so we can then ask what God wants us to do with it once we have $8 million worth of land right there on LBJ. Do you know what we're going to do if we raise $6,000?
We're going to sit in this room and go, "Lord, we think we went through this exactly how we were supposed to. Right now, it doesn't look like you want us to have a facility or have the land we can eventually get a facility on. We're going to thank you. We're going to honor you, strive hard, and run hard after God right here. You're sovereign over this whole thing."
We're going to move forward with an attitude of gratefulness, gratitude, and awareness that he can use us right where we are. That's what Spirit-filled people do. You know what Spirit-filled people will do if they raise $24 million in three weeks? Same thing. Be faithful with it. All right?
Rate yourself, zero to five. Do you have a sense of gratitude and thankfulness in your life, or are you constantly anxious, constantly grumbling and disputing with God about why you're in a certain life stage or why you look a certain way or why you aren't compensated a certain way or why people don't view you a certain way or why you're not…. On and on and on and on. Or are you genuinely overwhelmed that God is in your life with you, cares for you, and wants to glorify himself through you just the way you are? Here's the next one.
5 . If the Spirit is there in your life, he will personally lead you. By the way, the Scripture reference for that, if you want, is Ephesians 5:18-20. You can see the same thing in Colossians 3:15-16. Here we go. He personally leads you. This is a great one. Watch what it says in Romans, chapter 8, verses 13-14. "…for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."
It's possible you can know and have a sense the Spirit is leading you, moment by moment. Paul had this experience in Acts, chapter 16. It says, "…and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them…" He saw that very clearly. Over in John 16, it says, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come." He will give you a leading. "This is what you should do next."
One of the things the elders have said when folks say, "Well, what do you do if you raise this much money but not that much money?" We'll say, "We'll go through the exact same process to honor God in the exact same way, and we are sure he will lead us in a way that we are uniformly convinced is consistent with his Word and wisdom, in a way to best glorify him as he did this previous time." We'll know then.
In Acts, chapter 8, verse 29, it says, "Then the Spirit [of the Lord] said to Philip, 'Go up and join this chariot.'" Acts 10:19: "While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, 'Behold, three men are looking for you.'" See that? See how intimate and personal it is? Have you ever had the impression God is saying to you, "I want you to go do this"? You might check it with the Word. Does the Word say I should do this and not that?
No, the Word doesn't, but you'll have an impression on your heart. "All I can tell you is I feel like it should be here." The Bible doesn't tell you if you should go to Texas or Texas A&M (let me say that again), but sometimes you'll just find something and say, "Man, I've been praying about it. I know that, because I'm going to seek God's will, I'm clearly going to go to OU." Whatever it might be.
The point is when sometimes it doesn't come down to a biblical thing, just ask him. Can I tell you guys this? You will never desire to know God's will more than he will desire to reveal it to you. You will never desire to know God's will more than he desires to reveal it to you. That's a fact. He's not playing a shell game with you.
You know what I get when I get silence? "Lord, what do you want me to do in this situation?" I'm getting nothing. You know what? God says, "I trust you, Todd. What do you want to do? Just go do it. Enjoy it. There's not one that's better than the other. Be free." How many of you all feel like you're led by the Spirit, intimately, personally? Rank yourself, zero to five, because that's what the Spirit does when he's there and you're in a relationship with him. This is the last one. Not only does he give you personal leadership…
6 . He gives you personal intimacy. This is really significant. The passage I'd love you to meditate on is in Romans, chapter 8. It's verses 14-16. I'm not going to read it to you, but the point is this. Do you feel like you know God well, that he is your friend, that you can speak to him in a spirit of intimacy where you can call him Daddy, not just Father?
That's what abba means. It's an onomatopoeia. It's the easiest way to express a specific word in a language. It sounds like what you're trying to say. A little baby in that language would often call for Daddy, "Abba. Abba. Abba." It's a sign of intimacy. Are you that intimate with the Father, that you know he's there with you? That you know he has not left you or forsaken you? Zero to five. How close would you say you are to God?
By the way, the reason some of us are far from God is because when we bring things… Just like in my wife's and my relationship, when I act in a way that is inconsistent with love, what happens? We go from being one to, very quickly, being isolated. What brings us back together? Confession, request for forgiveness, and the offer of it, and we are restored. My wife and I are married no matter how isolated we get, just like I am married and yoked with Christ. There are times he feels distanced from me. Why? Because my sin has separated him from me.
You look at those six different things in your specific life. As you go through, you will be able to add up your total. I'm not going to tell you what a passing grade is, but I can tell you what God desires for you. He wants us to be moving ever increasingly toward thirty. If you don't know Christ, your score should be zero.
I would offer to you an opportunity to immediately have that move to thirty. Spiritual maturity, which is what we easily assign with Bible study, Bible memorization, the ability to quote chapter and verse, and things like that… Practices of the spiritual disciplines. That's what we call spiritual maturity, but that's not the same as spirituality.
That is why the person who comes to Christ today can be as filled with the Spirit as anybody else in this room. Somebody who says, "I want to surrender to God and have him begin to teach me, lead me, give me intimacy, give me a heart filled with overwhelming gratitude," and you can go from zero to thirty in no time if you go from self-will to faith. There are times in any one of these, I go from zero to five as a believer on a regular basis, but that's what the Spirit does in your life.
If you aren't feeling those things, sensing that those things are a regular occurrence in your life… If you really want to know the truth, have somebody else circle numbers for you who knows you well. I will tell you that as this church is in the high twenties, we will be the salt and light Christ intends for us to be. We will honor him, and we won't need Jesus as our pastor. Lord knows he could even use me as your pastor, if you'll let him be your Lord. Let's pray.
Father, thank you for this little three weeks we've had to dive in together and study and reflect now as biblically informed people who understand what it means to say, "Come and fill me up." Not as folks who realize we're lacking power we need, but as we know Christ, we have your Spirit fully, so we're going to sing, "Lord, fill us up." What we mean is let us decrease so you might increase.
Not just now. We're going to have the same challenge when we're done singing, to let it happen as we greet one another out there and not treat each other with glad hands, thinking, "I can use this person to make me happy or this person because they're wealthy or this person because they're beautiful or this person I have to avoid because I'm insecure." God, may that not mark us.
For my friends who are here who with integrity just put zero straight down the line, Father, as they heard. "I'd love to have a God like that who led me, who loved me, who filled me with goodness and peace and joy, a God who was intimately acquainted with all my ways, who gave me a sense of gratitude and protection no matter what my circumstance. I'd love to know that God." May you not let them leave without doing business with Christ, who is your gift and provision to us to give us the gift of salvation that, with it, comes the gift of your abiding presence, which is your Spirit.
Father, we say, "Come and fill us up." Fill us with conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment, if we don't know you yet, and fill us with an abiding sense of our need for you. Not to be disciplined people who say, "We're going to go be good Christians this week," but people who are going to say, "Father, I'm going to walk in relationship with you this week. May I be increasingly, continually, constantly being filled." For your glory and our good, amen.
The Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood, misrepresented and ignored member of the Trinity. Because of the many misconceptions about who He and is, along with the fanaticism and foolishness too often associated with His ministry, too many followers of Christ avoid the constant relationship with Him necessary to honor the Lord. So what does it really mean to be 'filled with the Spirit'? In this three-part series, Todd Wagner takes a look at Ephesians 5:18, 'Do not be drunk with wine...but be filled with the Spirit.' If you wonder what it means or what it looks like to be continually filled with the Spirit, then this series is for you.