Sunday, 20 May 2018

Be filled with the Spirit - David Williams

Eph 5:18
Acts 2:1-4, 12-21, Eph 5:18-20

What do I take with me in the morning? There are a few essentials – keys, phone, licence, trousers… there is another, the filling with the Spirit. Without this my school visits and preaching cannot be successful. The Spirit equips, empowers.

The Spirit is God’s ongoing provision for us, just as a car needs attention after it has been bought. While salvation is an act of the Spirit giving Christ’s life, his ongoing work is the Spirit giving Christ’s power for life and service. The two are seen in John 14:17, and in the contrast between Romans 7 & 8, and elsewhere.

This second work of the Spirit is essential for God’s people. The disciples were convinced believers – they had after all seen the risen Christ, but were told to wait for baptism in the Spirit (Acts 1:4). Then Paul believed when he met Jesus on the Damascus road, but was later filled (Acts 9:17). Even the very Son of God, Jesus, was anointed (Lk 4:18). Three words – one reality

A comparison with wine might help. Paul makes this in Ephesians 5:18, and it is hinted at in Acts 2:13. As with wine, being filled with the Spirit is a deliberate act, even though a few seem to have experienced it without knowing. Drinking affects us in both body and mind, so we are very aware of it – likewise we can recognise the action of the Spirit. I am always loath to preach until I am aware of God’s filling. Then it is likely that wine is provided by the host – do we then refuse it?

Of course wine can be contentious – Ephesians 5:18 says it leads to debauchery, and it is behind many accidents and crimes. Because of this, Wesley demanded abstention (but Jesus’ attitude differed (Mk 7:19), cf also1 Tim 5:23). Likewise, the filling of the Spirit has proved contentious, as with such as tongues, and “slaying in the Spirit”. These must be seen as possible and accepted, but do not always occur. Importantly, Ephesians 5:18 presents commands for us - Be not drunk – but be filled.

The filling is not to be rejected but accepted as a blessing
  • Gives joy – we SING (Eph 5:19)
  • Gives assurance – we KNOW (1 Jn 3:24). The bible often sees the filling as a proof, not something to be proved
  • Gives fellowship – we RELATE (1 Cor 12:13). The context of book of Ephesians is unity in the Church
  • Gives power – we are enCOURAGEd (Acts 4:31, which is a second experience)
Sadly, the effect of the filling wears off. This is why the form of the Greek in Ephesians 5:18 is of a continuous and repeated obedience. I want MORE! Like wine, it is addictive! It is the best thing in Christian experience that I know – my soul longs and thirsts for more.

David T Williams 

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