This next sermon in our series, titled God in Us, focused on the meaning, biblical background and practical application of being filled with the Holy Spirit. This phrase has created much controversy in the church today while often creating more division than unity. The evidence in Scripture emphasizes that there is a difference between having the Holy Spirit as a follower of Jesus and the act of being filled with the Spirit, but that this filling of the Spirit looks more like the extravagant love of a married couple than any spiritual test.
Greg Boyd begins this sermon in our God in Us series by highlighting the extravagant love of God as seen in the playful and passionate love of an older married couple that has kept their love alive over many years. God wants this kind of extravagant love for us through his pouring out of himself in us through the Holy Spirit.
The completion of this extravagant love is that God wants to put himself inside us. Replicating the trinity that is mutually dwelling in each other. This requires our permission and our invitation to have God dwell in us. This also means that it is possible for our relationship with God to be extravagant from God’s side and mediocre from our side. It’s possible for the bride to be married, but without room for the extravagance of God. Being filled with the Holy Spirit or being baptized with Holy Spirit is where this extravagant experience of God can often be put on display.
Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 12:3 that all believers in Jesus have the Holy Spirit, but that this is different than being filled with the Holy Spirit. Scripture also emphasizes this distinction in a variety of other places (Acts 1:8; Acts 2:4; Acts 6:3; Acts 8:12,14-16; Ephesians 5:18). It is also important to note that the tense of being “filled” with the Spirit is not a one-time experience, but is an ongoing process. You can’t play it safe and have minimal salvation, power, joy and love. This extravagant love of God requires a moment-by-moment choice to remain in this love and pour it back to God.
One of the controversial issues in the church today revolves around the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Some churches teach that being filled with the Holy Spirit requires an outward manifestation of speaking in tongues based on the examples of this seen in Acts 2, 10 and 19 where someone receives the Holy Spirit and immediately manifests the gift of speaking in tongues. The danger of this teaching is that it treats the book of Acts as prescriptive rather than descriptive. The book of Acts, as a historical narrative, is interested in explaining what happened rather than conveying normative truths. It is also clear from Paul’s rhetorical list of questions in 1 Corinthians 12:29 that he does not believe ALL believers will have the gift of speaking in tongues.
The evidence of being filled with the Spirit is not a specific gift (e.g. Speaking in tongues) and does not even necessarily fit the category of evidence. The need for evidence often can create a judgmental climate when the goal is to experience and live out the extravagant love of God. Being filled with the Spirit is about embodying the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in all parts of life and living out the extravagant love of God no matter the situational realities of life.
Greg finished this sermon by inviting us to ASK and EMPTY. ASK for the Holy Spirit genuinely and for the extravagant love of God. This ask will make you stand out and could have some messy consequences, but it is the best place to possibly live. We must be continually asking. Then we EMPTY ourselves of all the areas where Jesus is not Lord of our life. Being filled with the Spirit is the experiential part of making Jesus Lord of our life.
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