Spirit-Filled Life
Brothers :
The Holy Spirit
and Jesus
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25. Spirit-Filled Life

Breathing In and Out

StarsA. W. Tozer (1897-1963), the American pastor and author, writes very wisely, "The Spirit-filled life is not a special deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the entire plan of God for His people. There is nothing about the Spirit-filled life that Christians acquire that is strange or eerie." A. B. Simpson (1843-1919), a Canadian preacher, author, and the founder of the Christian Missionary Alliance, also writes, "Being filled with the Holy Spirit is as easy as breathing. You simply breathe out and in." It is such a wonderfully simple description of the Spirit-filled life that can be so daunting and frightening.

Into Christ's Image

Spirit FigureThe Word of God commands the Spirit-filled life. Saint Paul writes in Ephesians 5.18, "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." C. H. Spurgeon, an influential English Baptist preacher, says of Ephesians 5.18, "This is not a promise to claim. It is a truth to obey." Jesus himself says in John 14.16-17a, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever - the Spirit of truth." The Holy Spirit embodies and today demands truth rather than lies or "fake news." The truth is central to a Christian's Spirit-filled life.

Not Optional Extra

Holy Spirit LifeSaint Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3.18, "And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." The Bible tells us that we will change into Christ's image as we live the spiritual life. It is a fact and not an optional extra. As we "contemplate" or "reflect like a mirror," the Lord's glory so we all change. Change is inevitable for Christians, and this includes our likes and dislikes. Major Ian Thomas (1914-2007) served during the Second World War in Belgium and at Dunkirk's evacuation. He urges, "All that Jesus is - you have! You cannot have any more, but you need not have any less." Major Thomas's life is a testament to this truth, going through exhaustion and despair to emerge as he says, "not working for Jesus but trusting Jesus to work in him." One of the great secrets in life is not working for Jesus but allowing Jesus to work through you. We gain blessing even when reproached because the Spirit's presence is within us. Saint Peter in 1 Peter 4.14 commends and encourages us in writing, "if you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you."

Jesus' Fixed Image

Welcome JesusJesus' fixed image is impressed with the Holy Spirit's help on the Christian like a photographic plate image is set by chemicals on a plate of glass. One of the biggest problems in the early days of photography was getting the image permanent on the photographic glass plate. The French artist and photographer Louis Daguerre (1787-1851), who invented the "daguerreotype" process of photography, was amazed to discover a photographic plate in a cupboard full of chemical bottles on which the image was bright and clear. Not knowing which one of the chemicals was responsible, he withdrew them one by one only to find that even when empty, the closet still fixed the image clearly on the plate. Finally, Daguerre realized that some mercury had spilled in the cupboard, and the lingering vapors were responsible for setting the vision.

Agbar's Healing

Similarly, the Holy Spirit helps Christians keep "Jesus' fixed image" in a sharp and clear focus. Jesus achieves this through the work of the Holy Spirit. Eusebius (c260-340 AD) Bishop of Caesarea claims in his "History of the Christian Church" published in 324-5 AD that he translates an actual letter between King Agbar of Edessa and Jesus. Eusebius of Caesarea sat next to the Emperor at the Council of Nicea and made the first draft of the famous Nicean Creed. In this message, Agbar asked Jesus to heal him of an unknown illness. Jesus sent the letter with a delegation by Agbar, which included a painter named Hanaan who, quite possibly, painted the first portrait of Jesus Christ. The "Doctrine of Addai" tells us, "When Hannan, the keeper of the archives, saw that Jesus spoke thus to him, by being the king's painter, he took and painted a likeness of Jesus with choice paints, and brought it to Abgar the king, his master. And when Abgar the king saw the likeness, he received it with great joy, and placed it with great honor in one of his palatial houses." There is a further and curious addition to this story and claim from "Theology of the Icon" by Leonid Ouspensky (1902-1987). He was a famous Russian icon painter and art historian, "Hannan found Christ surrounded by a large crowd; he climbed a rock from which he could see Him better. He failed in making his portrait 'because of the indescribable glory of His face, which was changing through grace.' Seeing that Hannan wanted to make His portrait, Christ asked for some water, washed, and wiped his face with a piece of linen on which his features remained fixed. He gave Hannan the linen to carry it with a letter to the one who had sent him. In his letter, Christ refused to go to Edessa himself but promised Abgar to send him one of His disciples once His mission had ended. Upon receiving the portrait, Abgar was cured of his most severe symptoms, though several marks remained on his face. After Pentecost, the apostle Thaddeus, one of the seventy, came to Edessa. He completely healed the king and converted him." This image on a cloth reminds us of the "Veil of Veronica" on a facecloth and the "Shroud of Turin" on Jesus' tomb cloth. These three artifacts are "not-made-by-hand," and many legends surround them.

Holy Spirit's Temple

Burning HeartThe human body is to be the Holy Spirit's temple and the dwelling place for God. He inspires us to produces a joyous Christian life. The Holy Spirit's temple is God's home in us. A Christian mother is sitting on a couch, and her three years old child comes over and puts her ear to her mother's chest. "What are you doing?" asked the mother. "I'm listening for Jesus in your heart," replies the little girl. The mother let the little girl listen for a few moments and then asked, "Well, what do you hear?" "He's there," replies the little girl, "and it sounds to me like he's making coffee!"

Spirit Inspires

Holy Spirit InspiresChristians become a holy temple or a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul writes to the Corinthian Church in 1 Corinthians 6.19-20, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you are bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." Frederick Faber (1814-1863), who wrote the hymn, "Faith of our Fathers," exhibited a beautiful, holy, and joyous Christian life that he attributed to the Holy Spirit temple within him. More recently, writer A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) writes, "There is nothing good, nothing holy, nothing beautiful, nothing joyous which he (Jesus) is not to his servants. No one need be downcast, for Jesus is the joy of heaven, and it is his joy to enter into sorrowful hearts."

Blessing of Abraham

In the same way, through faith in Christ, this promise is fulfilled when we make our hearts the Holy Spirit's temple. We do this through our faith as described by Saint Paul in Galatians 3.14, "He redeemed us so that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." The Spirit promises that we will become the Holy Spirit's Temple!

Holy Spirit's Dwelling

TransfigurationThe Holy Spirit's dwelling place is in the Christian's human body. Without Jesus, there can be no presence or dwelling of God in a person. Andrew Murray, the South African Pastor (1828-1917), considers the Holy Spirit's indwelling to be essential for holiness and happiness in a Christian. He writes, "Holiness is essential to true happiness and happiness is essential to true holiness. If you would have joy, the fullness of joy, an abiding joy which nothing can take away, be holy as God is holy. Holiness is blessed." God wants us to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in us just as we live in a home. To do this, we have to let the Holy Spirit free reign. That is why Saint Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5.16-19, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit." In other words, do not willfully exclude the Holy Spirit from your life. The Holy Spirit sanctifies the believer. Saint Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2.13, "But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose us as firstfruits to be saved, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and belief in the truth." Note that some manuscripts render "chose us as firstfruits to be saved" as "chose you from the beginning." The first fruits of God's harvest are Christians chosen from the beginning!

Helping Hand

FishermanThe French painter Emile Renouf (1845-1894) depicts one of his canvasses called "The Helping Hand," an old fisherman in a boat with a little girl seated beside him. Both the elderly gentleman and the child have their hands on a large oar, and the old man is looking down fondly at her. He told her that she might help him row the boat, so the child felt she was doing much of it. However, his strong, muscular arms are the moving force that propels the boat through the waves. Similarly, the Holy Spirit does most of the work in us as we labor away at the Christian life. We may think we are essential, but it is the Holy Spirit's dwelling in us who does most of it!

Jesus' Experience

Jesus LaughingOthers will desire the Holy Spirit when they see his work in us. James 4.4-5 explains, "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? " The phrase "adulterous people" is an allusion to covenant unfaithfulness. The phrase "the spirit he has caused to dwell in us" may also be translated "that the spirit he caused to dwell in us envies intensely" or "that the Spirit he caused to dwell in us longs jealously." The Holy Spirit is here endowed with human emotions and "envies intensely" or "longs jealously." Dr. William Barclay (1907-1978), the eminent theologian and broadcaster, writes, "Great men we know about Jesus we know. The others we remember, but Jesus we experience." We experience Jesus through the Holy Spirit's dwelling in us.✞

"Spirit-Filled Life"
©1990-2019
by Ron Meacock

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