The Work & Ministry of the Holy Spirit

My devotional reading has me in the Book of Acts (as it does every November) and I have been “musing” over the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit in, with, by, through & upon the lives of those who comprised the early church. Following the resurrection of Jesus, He “breathed upon” those who were assembled together in an upper room somewhere in Jerusalem, and they received the Holy Spirit (ie. They were sealed by and indwelt with the Holy Spirit; John 20:19-22). On the day of Pentecost, they were baptized with the Holy Spirit as Jesus had promised, as the Spirit came upon them in power (Acts 2:1-4). As we read on in Chapters 2, 3 & 4, we find additional descriptions of the believers being “filled” with the Spirit (Acts 4:8, 31) and  of being “full” of the Spirit (Acts 6:3, 5, 8; Acts 7:55).

The original word used to describe the believers as being “filled” with the Spirit is the verb plēthō (lit. ‘to be filled to the full’). However, the word used in Acts 4:8 & 31 is the verb plēstheis (lit. freshly filled; a fresh measure). Clearly, receiving the Baptism with the Spirit and as a result, being filled with (plērēs lit. under the influence of) the Spirit, is not a once and forever proposition. Just as water in the soil surrounding a potted plant is diminished, and must be replenished; and/or just as the battery in my computer must be recharged, so we who have been baptized with the Spirit (and subsequently “filled” with the Spirit) must be refilled and refreshed and renewed by the power of the Spirit, yielding a life that bears witness to the fact that there is something extra-ordinary occurring in our lives; a life that exhibits the super-natural. And what is the key to such a life; a life of Holy consecration and power? Full Surrender!

Consider the familiar lyrics of Judson VanDeVenter ~

“All to Jesus I surrender; All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,In His presence daily live.

“All to Jesus I surrender; Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken; Take me, Jesus, take me now.

“All to Jesus I surrender; Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit, Truly know that Thou art mine.

“All to Jesus I surrender; Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power; Let Thy blessing fall on me.”

“I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Savior… I surrender all!”

As I have been “musing” over the idea of how to express these thoughts, I read the testimony of an Irishman named William Nicholson. His own words depict the experience perfectly. Let me share them with you:

“I had the inward witness of the Spirit clear, and the evidence that I was a changed man. I hated sin, but I was continually overcome by it. I loved holiness, but never truly experienced it. I was a child of God, but a slave to my lusts. My life was up and down…and more down than up. At last, I became desperate. I had come to understand my need for a clean-cut, unconditional surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and for the need to live in dependence upon the power of the Holy Spirit…for it could no longer be by my might or my power – for that had only led to defeat and dissatisfaction. At that moment I cried out, ‘Come Holy Spirit, fill me afresh. Renew Your work in Thy servant. By faith, I lay hold of Your promise!’ In a moment, I was free! Joy and peace and glory filled me. I lost something that moment I never want to find again. And I found something I never want to loose. I lost the fear on man, and I found the joy and peace of the overflowing fullness of the Spirit. Hallelujah!”

** I want it. I need it. Lord, search me – my heart and life – and reveal anything and everything that would hinder the full work of Your Spirit by, in, through & upon my life. Bring me back to a ‘first love’ relationship with Jesus, and keep me abiding there continually. Continually renew my life by the re-filling of the Spirit. As they did with Peter and John, may people look at my life and marvel…concluding by the witness heard and the evidence seen that I have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Amen!

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