The Power of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit indwells every Christian, and because He is God and has all the power of God, He is able to help a Christian to overcome his inadequacy and to have a life and testimony that is honoring to God. The secret of drawing on His power is one of faith so that we live by the Spirit. Paul wrote to the believers in Galatia saying, “Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Gal. 5:16-18).
Living by the Spirit is depending moment by moment on the power of the Spirit to overcome our own inadequacy. Christians need to realize that within them is the omnipotence of God and that there is no problem that God cannot solve. Accordingly, the life of victory is a life of faith as we live day by day, relying on the Holy Spirit to give us power to serve the Lord effectively.
Today airplanes provide rapid transportation from one place to another. It is possible to get on a plane and travel thousands of miles in just a few hours. The secret, however, is trusting the plane enough to get on board and let the plane carry you. Likewise, a Christian faces the impossible task of honoring God on his own, but as he rests in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God can support him and carry him moment by moment in his service and testimony for the Lord. It is impossible for a believer to achieve what he should by way of obedience and commitment to God without relying upon the power of the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 5: The Holy Spirit Gives You Power
You say: “Can we have this power equally with the early disciples?” I say: “Yes.”
I say yes because I am as unworthy and as needy as they were. I do not think we have any better preachers today than the preachers in the New Testament. And they needed this power.
Do not talk about “Can we have this Baptism today?’ We are of no use without it. Christianity without the Holy Ghost in it is a shell, a beautiful form, but lifeless, dead. Only God, the Holy Ghost, can produce the spark that quickens — the flame that kindles.
If I need this power so badly, is it likely that God will withhold it if I meet the conditions? The Bible is full of promise and exhortation to me to approach God with a full confidence of faith to receive this promise. There is not one paragraph that suggests that God will withhold.
Our Savior goes on record that He bought this gift for us. It is an integral part of the full gospel. It is meant to be. There is no other inference in the New Testament.
Jesus said that it was more expedient for His people to have this infilling than that He should remain with them. That is how important the baptism of the Holy Ghost is to the believer. It is promised to all believers to the end of time.
Let me say this to you with conviction! God holds us responsible. God holds every believer responsible for what that believer could have accomplished in the kingdom of God had he obtained the gift and used it. The gift is there for you to use now!
Condensed from The Holy Spirit Is For You by Revival time evangelist C. M. Ward. © 1966 Assemblies of God. Springfield. Missouri 65802.
Power for Many Purposes: Learn How to Use Power
The Holy Spirit and Power
Think of how many ways electricity is used: With it people light their cities, cook, heat their homes, run their factories and operate all kinds of machinery. Because men have learned how to use electric power they can do what used to seem impossible — even go to the moon.
The Holy Spirit wants to fill your life with a power greater than electricity — power to do what is impossible without it — but you must learn to use it. Used in the right way this power will bring glory to God and blessing to your life. Power of any kind used in the wrong way will always bring trouble.
Three mistakes to avoid:
1. Some people use the Holy Spirit’s power as a toy to be played with.
This was the problem of the Corinthian church. They so enjoyed talking in other tongues by the Spirit’s power that they were just having a good time in their services. There was a lot of disorder. Outsiders thought they were crazy. Paul let them know that all things should be done decently and in order. They should learn to so channel the power of the Holy Spirit that souls would be saved, not turned away from Christ.
2. Some people call attention to themselves instead of giving glory to God.
If the Holy Spirit gives a man faith for healing the sick, it is not so that he can shout: “Look at me, everybody! Miracles! I have lots of power!” Or if God uses someone to give messages in prophecy, it is not so that he can say: “Everyone had better listen to me! I am a prophet! Come to me if you want to know what to do.” Such pride brings many problems.
3. Some people just don’t use the power that the Holy Spirit has for them.
This is the most common mistake of all. Some have seen the misuse or imitations of the Spirit’s power and are afraid of anything supernatural. The Thessalonian church had this problem. Paul told them to test the spirits to see if they were of God and not to accept any false prophecies or imitations of God’s work. But they were not to throw away the real along with the imitations.
Do not restrain the Holy Spirit; do not despise inspired messages. Put all things to the test: keep what is good, and avoid every kind of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is like having your house wired for electricity. It’s not wired so you can sit in the dark and say: “I’ve got electricity at last!” Turn the light on! Use the power! In the Book of Acts you have God’s pattern for the right use of the power of the Holy Spirit.
This is the Pattern for You
The power of the Holy Spirit in the early Christians made their lives clean and good in a civilization noted for its crime and corruption. An inner joy and peace made them sing and praise God when they were beaten and thrown into jail for Christ’s sake. Full of God’s love, they forgave and prayed for those who tortured them. This is power used rightly!
They had a powerful message and gave it with powerful personal conviction. They knew what they were talking about. Anyone without Christ was lost, but Jesus would save those who believed on him. They spoke with wisdom, logic, and courage beyond their own abilities — power that convicted their hearers of the truth and convicted them of sin.
They had a powerful faith. They knew that God was with them and would work through them as He had promised. So in Jesus’ name they commanded paralytics to walk and they did. They prayed and things happened. Sick people were healed. Prison doors opened. Multitudes of sinners turned to God.
This power in the early Christians made them witnesses, just as Jesus had said. They had the boldness and urgent desire to tell all their neighbors about Jesus. They had a mission to fulfill. Courage, love, a great vision and total commitment to Christ drove them on from town to town and country to country. They were determined to give the good news of salvation to every man, woman and child in their world.
This is the pattern of power in the early Church. Their power then was the power of the Holy Spirit who filled them and worked through them. What they did was the natural outflow of Spirit-filled lives. The Bible tells you their experience in detail because it is the pattern for Christians today.
The Promise of Power
John the Baptist promised that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. This was a general promise made to all those who were being converted and baptized by him in water.
I baptize you with water to show that you have repented; but the one who will come after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11).
Jesus had a great work for Christians to do all down through the ages. He knew they could never do it in their own strength. So He told His followers to wait until they received the power of the Holy Spirit and then they would be His witnesses. Jesus’ command and promise were for all His followers.
“And I myself will send upon you what my Father has promised. But you must wait in the city until the power from above comes down upon you” (Luke 24:49). “Wait for the gift my Father promised. … For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. … You will be filled with power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:4-5, 8).
The Promise Fulfilled at Pentecost
What did Jesus’ followers do to receive the promise Holy Spirit? For ten days 120 of them waited — praying and expecting something to happen. And it did! On the Day of Pentecost they received what we call the Pentecostal experience or the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
They all joined together in a group to pray frequently (Acts 1:14). When the day of Pentecost arrived, all the believers were gathered together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire spreading out; and each person there was touched by a tongue. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. There were Jews living in Jerusalem. religious men who had come from every country in the world. In amazement and wonder they exclaimed: “These men who are talking like this — they are all Galileans! How is it, then, that all of us … hear them speaking in our own languages of the great things that God has done!” But others made fun of the believers, saving. “These men are drunk!” (Acts 2:1-5, 7-8, 11, 13).
Before this, Peter had been afraid of ridicule. What a change after he received the power of the Holy Spirit! He stood up and preached a powerful message. He explained that what they saw was the fulfillment of God’s promise. God had poured out His Spirit.
Then Peter stood up with the other eleven apostles, and in a loud voice began to speak to the crowd: … “These men are not drunk, as you suppose. … Rather, this is what the prophet Joel spoke about: This is what I will do in the last days, God says: I will pour out my Spirit upon all men; Your sons and your daughters will prophesy.” Many of them believed his message and were baptized; about three thousand people were added to the group that day (Acts 2:14.17, 41).
From then on Acts is the record of how the Holy Spirit worked through the Christians; He helped them witness, spread the gospel and win souls to Christ.
The Normal Experience After Conversion
Believers Filled with Power
The apostles expected all believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit after their conversion. Peter made that plain.
Peter said to them: “Turn away from your sins, each one of you, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven; and you will receive God’s gift, the Holy Spirit. For God’s promise was made to you and your children, and to all who are far away — all whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:38-39).
If new converts did not receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit right away after their conversion, someone went to pray for them so that they would receive it.
The apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had received the word of God: so they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived. they prayed for the believers that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit had not yet come down on any of them. . . . Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17).
After Saul was converted, the Lord sent Ananias to pray for him.
“He sent me so that you might see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17).
Cornelius and his family heard the gospel, believed and were saved as they accepted the truth. Before Peter finished preaching they were filled with the Holy Spirit. The experience of the believers in Ephesus was different. Like many Christians today, they had not even heard that God wanted to fill them with the Holy Spirit. Paul asked them:
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” “We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit,” they answered. Paul placed his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 19:2, 6).
Judging from the pattern in the early Church, God wants to fill all His children with the Holy Spirit and power. Who received then? Rich and poor. Men, women and children. Illiterate and well educated. Religious leaders and persons recently delivered from deep sin. Persons of many nations. Peter said in the house of Cornelius, a Roman soldier:
I now realize that it is true that God treats all men alike. These people have received the Holy Spirit, just as we also did (Acts 10:34, 47).
Signs of the Holy Spirit’s Power: Speaking in Other Languages
When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, He gave several signs of His power. People heard a sound as of a strong wind. They saw tongues of fire. And they spoke in languages that they had never learned. In Acts you find that one of these signs — speaking in tongues — was repeated when others received the Holy Spirit. This was how Peter knew that Cornelius and his family had received the Holy Spirit. The same sign was repeated at Ephesus.
Compare the experiences.
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak (Acts 2:4).
While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came down upon all those who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who had come from Joppa with Peter were amazed that God had poured out his gift of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles also. For they heard them speaking in strange tongues and praising God’s greatness. Peter spoke up: “These people have received the Holy Spirit, just as we also did” (Acts 10:44-47).
Paul placed his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them; they spoke in strange tongues and also proclaimed God’s message (Acts 19:6).
Speaking in other languages by the power of the Holy Spirit is the supernatural sign that God has chosen to show that the Holy Spirit has filled a person. Both Jesus and Paul referred to speaking in tongues as a sign or proof.
“Believers will be given these signs of power: … they will speak in strange tongues” (Mark 16:17).
The gift of speaking in strange tongues is proof for unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:22).
Christians throughout the world are continually experiencing this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit.
Usually the language is not known to anyone present. However, many times the Spirit has spoken through a person in a language unknown to the speaker but understood by someone in the audience, just as at Pentecost.
Other Signs of Power
You have read about many other signs of power that follow as we keep filled with the Holy Spirit: the clean life, love of God, courage and complete dedication to Christ. Signs of power are seen in powerful faith, powerful prayer, powerful witnessing and powerful preaching. The results — conversions, healings, baptisms in the Spirit and church growth — are also signs of power.
Dr. Alexander MacLaren writes:
There is no such force for the spreading of Christ’s Kingdom and the witness-bearing work of His Church, as the possession of this Divine Spirit. Plunged into that fiery baptism, the selfishness and the sloth which stand in the way of so many of us, are all consumed and annihilated, and we are set free for service because the bonds that bound us are burnt up in the merciful furnace of His fiery power.
“Ye shall be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man” — a power that will fill and flood all your nature, if you will let it, and make you strong to suffer, strong to combat, strong to serve, and to witness for your Lord.
Take this short quiz to test your knowledge.
1. What were the results of the Spirit’s power in the early Christians. Choose all that are true.
2. According to Acts 1:4 Who baptized with water?
a) the priest
b) John the Baptist
3. What book is the pattern for the work of the Spirit in Christians?
a) Acts (or the Bible)
b) Revelation (or the Bible)
c) Luke (or the Bible)
4. Who said: “God treats all men alike?”