Back to Pentecost and the things of the Spirit
Jesus on the last day of the feast “cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive…” (John 7:37-39). Then in John 20 he breathes on the disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Receive in the Greek means, receive now, at this moment.
Throughout the book of Acts there are various ‘initial’ experiences of the Spirit
• Disciples at Pentecost Acts 2,
• Samaritans – Acts 8,
• Saul/Paul – Acts 9,
• Cornelius (Gentiles) – Acts 10
• Ephesus – Acts 19
An Ongoing Experience
In fact throughout the New Testament you see not only initial experiences but an ongoing experience of the Spirit, a dynamic of life about the church. As Larry Tomczac put it some years ago, “Remove the pages from the book of Acts where supernatural activity is recorded and there’s hardly anything left!” Larry Tomczak, Beyond the Ordinary – A Supernatural Lifestyle, Restoration Magazine, July/August 1990, Harvestime Publications, Leicester.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “The essence of the Christian position is experience – experience of God! It is not a mere intellectual awareness or apprehension of truth.” Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Ephesians Chapter 6:10-13 – The Christian Warfare, Banner of Truth, Edinburgh (1976) – (p197).
“The Spirit is thus the empowering Presence of God for living the life of God in the present”. Gordon Fee, Paul, the Spirit and the People of God, Hodders, p183.
Such experiences of the Spirit were the normal part of church life for the first 8 centuries of its life. They were the very soul of the church, take them away and you have a body, a form, a structure. Excesses crept in, theological balance was sought, but the balance tipped too far in the other direction, and such experiences of the Spirit began to die out and the church became institutionalised. Form became everything. There was no longer any expectation of such a thing.
Lloyd-Jones said, “If your doctrine of the Holy Spirit does not leave any room for revival, then you cannot expect this kind of thing. If you say the baptism of the Spirit was once and for all on Pentecost and all who are regenerated are just made partakers of that, then there is no room left for this objective coming, this repetition, this falling of the Holy Spirit in power and authority on a church. But thank God – there IS room left! The teaching of Scripture plus the long history of the Christian church shows this so clearly.” Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Joy Unspeakable, Kingsway Books, Eastbourne, p44o.
‘There must be more than this’
Praise God there have always been people who have not accepted the status quo and said ‘there must be more than this,’ people who are hungry for the reality, and so there have been revivals, fresh outpourings of the Spirit, new manifestations of His presence and power.
Paul exhorts, no, commands in Ephesians, “Ever be filled and stimulated with the (Holy) Spirit.” Eph 5:18 AMP