How can you be filled with the Holy Spirit for empowered ministry? If you a disciple of Jesus Christ, you have the Holy Spirit already dwelling within you.
But how do you step into the empowering work of the Holy Spirit (one of the four basic works of the Holy Spirit)?
In this video, Earl Rutledge shares some of the principles of how we prepare ourselves to receive the empowering work of the Holy Spirit.
The empowerment of the Holy Spirit deepens your relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ and prepares you to take part in growing the Church and advancing the Kingdom of God on earth.
The Dunamis Project is a wonderful opportunity to not just learn about what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit but to grow in experiencing the work of the Holy Spirit.
Receive the Empowerment of the Holy Spirit
The following is an except from the Manual: Gateways to Empowered Ministry: The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit by Rev. Dr. Zeb Bradford Long, Edited by The Rev. Douglas McMurry, Presbyterian & Reformed Ministries International, (c) 2006
To be baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit as defined by Scripture does not mean that you do not have the Holy Spirit. If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, you already have the Spirit dwelling within you!
Further, it does not mean getting more of the Holy Spirit; rather it is a matter of letting the Holy Spirit have more of you.
Recall Thomas Smail’s summary:
There are obviously endless differences in maturity and effectiveness among Christians, but they are not differences of this kind. All of Christ and all of the Spirit is offered to all Christians, and withheld from none, as the great gift of God’s grace, and the differences arise not between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in regard to the Spirit, but solely from the degree to which Christians have entered into enjoyment of the inheritance that belongs to all of them and possessed the possessions that are for all in Christ.
Most of us only give Christ a little space of our lives and a grudging ascent of our wills.
D.L. Moody once said,
“What could God accomplish with a man or a woman who has fully surrendered his or her will to God?”
These are given as guidelines; there is no set formula! God is sovereign! These principles represent our human attempt at cooperation in God’s purposes and submission to God’s will.
Growing in having the Holy Spirit upon for power is simply a matter of being in love with Jesus, asking for the equipping of the Holy Spirit, receiving in faith, and stepping out in obedience.
1. Thirst – John 7:37-39
It is “thirst” that leads us to Jesus Christ who gives the living water of the Spirit of God. Jesus says,
“‘If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ Now this He said about the Spirit which those who believed in Him were to receive.”(John 7:37-39)
This is, first of all, a thirst for intimacy with God.
“My God, thou art my God, I seek thee my soul thirsts for thee; my flesh faints for thee, as in a dry and weary land where no water is.”(Psalm 63:1)
Second, it is a thirst that arises out of a profound awareness of our own inadequacy to do the works of God in our own strength. Jesus perfectly describes our condition when he says, “…apart from me you can do nothing!”
2. Expect – Ephesians 3:20
For many of us “our God is too small” and our expectations of the Christian life are too small. We have limited and tamed God by our fears, worldview, lack of knowledge, etc.
Expectancy is an expression of untrammeled faith in God, which prepares us to receive and to do all that He has for us.
“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.”(Ephesians 3:20)
3. Repent – Acts 2:38
At Pentecost Peter answers the crowd who had asked, “what must we do?”
“Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”(Acts 2:38)
That one is already baptized and growing in Christ is already assumed. What is emphasized here is that repentance and confession should be an ongoing part of the Christian life. Sin blocks our relationship with God, so repentance is a basic criterion for spiritual growth.
Please be very careful here!
One does not have to be perfect or have reached a high level of sanctification to receive the Holy Spirit “upon” for empowerment. There is no precondition of a “second blessing” or entire sanctification.
If there were such a criterion for receiving the infilling, then none of us would qualify.
This is given as a free gift of God’s grace to all in Christ who in obedience receive.
The gift is available from the moment we are in Christ.
Having affirmed that there is no precondition we must be careful not to neglect the inward work of the Holy Spirit. God is very patient, but if a person persists in disobedience, God may, and often does, withdraw the Spirit’s empowering.
This God did in the tragic cases of Samson and King Saul who persisted in disobedience. They lost the anointing of the Spirit, and finally their lives. After David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, he prayed,
“Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:11)
And Peter after denying Jesus, went out and wept bitterly. Later on the beach he accepted Jesus’ recommissioning in the question and command, “Do you love me?…feed my sheep.”
The way to growing in depth of relationship with Christ, and the Holy Spirit’s empowerment for the work of His Kingdom, is by “walking in the light.” This firstly means, a willingness to be vulnerable to the Holy Spirit, and letting his searching light pierce to the secret places within us. Secondly, walking in the light means a readiness to confess and to repent of our sins and receiving the forgiveness and cleansing of Jesus.
I have personally found that if I am to continue receiving the infilling or empowerment of the Holy Spirit, then confession must be a regular spiritual discipline. This may be done alone with God, before whom all our thoughts and desires are known. It is also helpful, and keeps us honest, to follow the direction of James and confess our sins to another brother or sister.
#4 Surrender – 1 Corinthians 12:11
All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.1 Corinthians 12:11 (NIV)
Beyond making Jesus Lord of your life, repenting of your sins and walking in the light, surrendering to God’s will deals with at least two other areas: our expectations and our motivations.
Expectations – what do you expect God to do?
If I pray and ask Father God to fill me with the Holy Spirit, my expectant hope anticipates that He will do what I have asked.
As mentioned in principle number 2, that is a good expectation. The struggle with expectations is when they define the when and how of God filling me with the Holy Spirit.
Expecting certain manifestations or gifts at the time of asking to be filled might result in disappointment.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 indicates there is a diversity of gifts, ministries and manifestations.
1 Corinthians 12:11 reminds us that the Holy Spirit gives the gifts according to His will and desire, not ours.
Father God keeps His promises. We should expect to be filled when we ask. But, the specific way and the manifestations of the Holy Spirit experienced is not the same for all people.
Surrender to Father God’s will and the desire of the Holy Spirit.
Not my will, but Yours be done.
Motivations – why do you want God to fill you with the Holy Spirit and empower you with His gifts?
Our motivations can be a hindrance. Simon the magician (Acts 8:18-24) wanted to be empowered by the Holy Spirit for personal pride and power. Peter’s response let’s us know his motivation was completely wrong.
What are correct reasons for being filled?
R. A. Torrey reminds us it isn’t so we can control the Holy Spirit, instead we should pray, “how can I give the Holy Spirit more of me?” This is precisely why we should be filled.
Holy Spirit, I want to be used by You for the common good and edification of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7; 14:12, 26) and for the advancement the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:8). I surrender to Your will and plan.
5. Ask – Luke 11:9-13
And I tell you ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!(Luke 11:9-13)
If a person is in Jesus Christ he already has the Holy Spirit within him, for conversion is itself a work of the Holy Spirit.
But to have the Holy Spirit “upon” for power, which is what it means to be baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit, one must appropriate it. One receives partly through asking in prayer. This is true of all that Christ has promised us. Calvin affirms this in his teaching on prayer.
Therefore we see that to us nothing is promised to be expected from the Lord, which we are not also bidden to ask of him in prayers. So true it is that we dig up by prayer the treasures that were pointed out by the Lord’s Gospel, and which our faith has gazed upon.
The New Covenant in which all of God’s people are promised the Holy Spirit for power has been established in the blood of Jesus Christ. On the day of Pentecost the promised Holy Spirit was poured out! It is now for us to appropriate God’s gracious gift and provision through asking and receiving in faith.
The important thing is to ask in prayer. It does not matter what words you use; there are no neat formulas. What matters is the intent of the heart.
Many find it helpful to have hands laid upon them. This has good Biblical precedent and may be a support to one’s faith (Acts 9:17, 19:6). One may ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit not once but many times, as often as needed.
6. Receive In Faith – Galatians 3:13-14, 1 John 5:14-15
Receiving the infilling with the Holy Spirit is not subject to our emotions or experience. Rather it is founded in the promises of God and received in faith.
Paul asked the Galatians,
“Does He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 4:5)
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us-for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree’ – that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:13-14)
The key to appropriating what God has clearly promised us in Jesus Christ is given in the following incredible verses.
“And Jesus answered them, ‘Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea’, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what He says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.'” (Mark 11:22-24)
“And this is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him.” (I John 5:14-15)
These promises give us the confidence to ask for and in faith receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit. We know that it is God’s will and intention that we are made useful in his kingdom and equipped to witness to Jesus Christ. Thus in faith we ask for it and we trust and believe that we have indeed received. Experience will follow what we have appropriated in faith.
This emphasis upon appropriating in faith the baptism with the Holy Spirit was the unique emphasis of R.A. Torrey.
It is Biblical, fully respects the sovereignty of God, and avoids all the gimmicks and manipulations like tarrying meetings, or pressuring people to speak in tongues that have so marred our joyful reception of God’s free gift.
So crucial is this appropriation of the promise of the Holy Spirit to our project that I quote R.A. Torrey extensively.
Now apply this to the matter of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
You have taken all the other six steps, and you have come to God and asked Him definitely to baptize you with the Holy Spirit (or, to fill you with the Holy Spirit, as the case may be).
Then ask yourself, “Is this petition of mine according to His will? You know that it is because Acts 2:39 and Luke 11:13 say so.
Then read I John 5:14, “this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us.”
Then say, “I asked for the baptism with the Holy Spirit, I know that is according to His will because God says so in Luke 11:13 and Acts 2:39, therefore, I know He has heard me.”
Then read the fifteenth verse, “and if we know that He heareth us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of Him.” The petition I asked was the baptism with the Holy Spirit; I know He has heard me; I know I have what I asked; I know I have the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
And what you thus take upon naked faith in the word of God, you shall afterwards have in actual experimental possession.
Ask and then receive in faith!
7. Obey the Holy Spirit – Acts 5:32, John 14:15-17
This last step is the crucial one. Indeed, it is the essence of our whole relationship with Jesus Christ. We are called to obedience.
After asking for the empowering of the Holy Spirit, and receiving in faith, that faith must be made active and alive, and the way this happens is through obedience to the Holy Spirit.
“And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:32)
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for He dwells with you, and will be in you.” (John 14:15-17)
The obedience that God calls us to is not just a matter of doing a few things right to fulfill the law, rather it is a surrender of the will. R.A. Torrey clearly presents us with this call to radical obedience.
The heart of obedience is in the will. The whole essence of obedience is the surrender of the will to God. It is coming to God and saying, “Oh God, here I am. Thou hast bought me with a price and I acknowledge Thine ownership. Send me where Thou wilt, do with me what Thou wilt, use me as Thou wilt. This is one of the most fundamental things in receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit, the unconditional surrender of the will to God. More people miss the baptism with the Holy Spirit at this point, and more people enter experimentally into the baptism with the Holy Spirit at this point than at almost any other.”
In the story of Peter walking on the water, Jesus commanded him to come. As Peter obeyed and left the security of the boat he experienced the incredible miracle of walking on water. It may have only been a few steps, but that is a quantum leap beyond what the rest of the disciples experienced who did not get out of the boat.
Likewise, the Holy Spirit calls us to obedience and as we obey, that is when we experience the power or see evidences that we have indeed been empowered.
Excerpt from the Dunamis Project Manual: Gateways to Empowered Ministry: The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit by Rev. Dr. Zeb Bradford Long, Edited by The Rev. Douglas McMurry, Presbyterian & Reformed Ministries International, (c) 2006
In Dunamis Project #1, Gateways to Empowered Ministry, you learn about who the Holy Spirit is, what the Holy Spirit does, and what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit.