T85 Source de Vie - http://www.sourcedevie.com
© SdV - Any reproduction authorized and even encouraged
put on the site 01/18/2001
last update 04/07/2004
The above teaching is the transcription in English of a spoken message recorded on audio-cassette given in French by Henri Viaud-Murat. The written transcription and subsequent translation have been done in such a manner so as to preserve the spontaneity of the spoken word. Only a few minor changes have been made when necessary for the comprehensiveness of the text.
Let us fervently seek the true baptism in the Holy Spirit, so as to be cleansed and to be made like Jesus
C85a Source de Vie - http://www.sourcedevie.com
© SdV - Toute reproduction autorisée et même encouragée
mis sur le site le 18/12/01
The above teaching is the transcription in English of a spoken message recorded on audio-cassette given in French by Henri Viaud-Murat. The written transcription and subsequent translation have been done in such a manner so as to preserve the spontaneity of the spoken word. Only a few minor changes have been made when necessary for the comprehensiveness of the text.
Let us fervently seek the true baptism in the Holy Spirit,
so as to be cleansed and to be made like Jesus
You know that the Word of the Lord is Spirit and Life : so when we feed on that Word, knowing that it is Spirit and Life, we feed on Godís manna. Whenever it is received in faith, it can do its work within our hearts, but if it does not find a faith-filled heart, it can do nothing. If it is accepted in faith by one who knows it is Spirit and Life, if it is received into an open heart with the knowledge that it is a word from God Himself, each and every word will accomplish a deep work within that heart. The Lord is always seeking to cleanse us and to make us more like Jesus : that is His purpose.
So our subject this evening will be Holy Spirit baptism, true Holy Spirit baptism according to the Bible, for the Lord longs to see all His children filled with His Holy Spirit.
Our being constantly filled with the Holy Spirit day after day enables us to be changed into the likeness of Jesus. No one can be like Jesus, filled with His love - the fruit of the Spirit - no one can be filled with patience and joy, without being filled with His Spirit. The Lord cannot do His work otherwise. So the Lordís purpose is to keep on filling us more and more, with an ever-increasing measure of His Spirit, so that the Holy Spirit within us will bear fruit, and daily make us more like Jesus. If we are aware of shortcomings in our lives, what we need is more of the presence of the Holy Spirit within our hearts. The more we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the fewer our shortcomings. We grow a little more patient each time we receive more of the fullness of the Holy Spirit ; we grow more loving, have more joy, peace, and faith, and we trust God more deeply.
The Lord longs to fill us with His Spirit. That was why Jesus came into this world : He came to save us so that we might receive the Holy Spirit ; for no-one can receive the Holy Spirit without first being saved. That would be an impossibility. When we belonged to the world, we were far away from God, living in the flesh and in darkness. The Holy Spirit could never come and live in that kind of heart. So first, we needed to be saved. However, Jesus didnít end His work at the Cross. He rose from the dead, then, later on, ascended into heaven. Do you know what He did, then ? The first thing, or one of the first things that He did after entering Heaven and sitting down at the right hand of God ? He poured out His Holy Spirit. No such outpouring of the Holy Spirit could ever have taken place before the day of Pentecost and the times that followed : first, Jesus had to be glorified. Before that, Jesus had to go through what He had come into the world for, as God incarnate in a flesh like our own ; He had to come in the flesh, live a life of perfect holiness, then be lifted up onto the Cross to atone for our sins, so that our sins might be washed away by His blood. Then He rose from the dead, so that we might be made to rise with Him ; He ascended into Heaven to be glorified, and to show His Father that His work was completed ; only then could He receive the Holy Spirit from His Father and pour that Spirit out upon His Church.
The Church of Jesus was born on the day of Pentecost. Before then, the disciples of the Lord Jesus were led by the Holy Spirit who was with them, but Jesus had said : "He will come and dwell within you. He is going to live in your hearts, right inside you ; in your bodies, which are the temples of the Holy Spirit". To accomplish that, Jesus had to ascend into heaven ; then, from above, he caused the glorious outpouring of the Holy Spirit we read about in the second chapter of Acts.
I am now going to read from Galatians 3, verses 13 and 14. Those two verses show us that Godís ultimate purpose was to fill us with His Holy Spirit ñ at long last ! God had been waiting for thousands of years to be able to do that, ever since He had created the world and since Adam and Eve had sinned. God had been waiting for the day when He could fill His children with His Spirit.
In Galatians 3:13 we read : "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us". He was nailed to that cross and He died on it. "For it is written : Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." Why, then, did Christ hang from that tree, why was He nailed to it ? Why did He die on it ? Verse 14 tells us why : "in order that the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
So you see why Jesus became a curse for us on that cross. He was made a curse so that the blessing of Abraham might be ours, and so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit. We could not have received the Spirit before then : first, Jesus had to die, He had to atone for our sins, ascend into heaven and pour out His Spirit. Godís purpose is now fulfilled : Hallelujah !
We need to be enabled to live in a way that brings honour to the Lord ; we need to receive Holy Spirit baptisms that are true Holy Spirit baptisms, because when we read the Book of Acts, when we see what a radical change came about in the lives of the disciples from the day of Pentecost onwards, it is obvious that they received something very special, something we all need. We cannot live as Christians in this world (of course we can go on existing, but what I mean is that we cannot demonstrate the life of God) without being filled with His Spirit. To be filled with Godís Spirit is more than just speaking in tongues, or exercising the spiritual gifts : it is to be filled with the very life and nature of God, in order to bear His fruit and be like Jesus as we live in this world. That is what God gives us His Holy Spirit for.
So you see how deeply those Jewish disciples were changed. They were fearful, they lacked power, they lacked love, they lacked God's gifts, they lacked fruit, they lacked everything. They were exactly like us, they lacked everything. Jesus said to them : "Donít you leave Jerusalem before you have received power from on high, the Holy Spirit whom I will pour out upon you. Donít you move till then !"
Too many Christians canít stay still and keep on running around without having been filled with the Holy Spirit ; so God canít produce the fruit He wants to produce in their lives, and they are unable to do the will of the Father. Even Jesus had to wait : remember how He began His ministry. He didnít begin before He was baptised by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, and you know what took place when He came out of the water : the Holy Spirit came down on Him in the form of a dove, and that was when he began His ministry. Of course He already had the Holy Spirit, but that was when He received Him with power from on high, as an anointing that came upon Him. He came into the fullness of the Spirit, the fullness of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and that was when the Spirit led Him into the wilderness where he encountered the devil. He overcame the devil ; after a forty-day fast, He prevailed over the evil one, and it was only then that He began to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. So even Jesus didnít begin His ministry before receiving the Holy Spirit from on high, the Spirit who came upon Him on the day of His baptism, before He was tested in the wilderness where He demonstrated His utter consecration to His Father.
Jesus knew that he was one hundred per cent consecrated to the Fatherís purposes, but He had to be tested. The devil also knew that Jesus was consecrated, but our Lord had to be tested, to prove to His Father, to the whole world, and to the devil that he had consecrated His whole life, spirit, soul, and body, to serve the Lord. In the third chapter of Matthew, just before the passage I mentioned concerning Jesusí baptism in water and in the Holy Spirit, John the Baptist declares: "I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He shall baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his threshing-floor." (Matt.3:11).
That shows us what the purpose of the Holy Spirit baptism is : to clear out the Lordís threshing-floor, to clean up His dwelling-place, to make it a holy temple fit for the Lord to live in. That is what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for. "He will thoroughly purge his threshing-floor, gathering his wheat into the barn, and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matt. 3:12). The fire of judgement is for those who refuse the grace of God, and the fire of blessing, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire is for those who open their hearts to the Lord and receive Him in order to be wholly consecrated to Him.
Shortly, we shall see what the Book of Acts tells us about the way those first Christians lived after the day of Pentecost : we shall compare it with our own lives, and see if there isnít something still lacking in us. But we should also be encouraged when we realise that those same disciples were transformed in one instant. It didnít take them twenty years to be filled with the Holy Spirit : the change wasnít the result of a long life of obedience to the Lord, at the end of which God finally declared : "All right, now youíre going to get a medal : youíre going to receive the Holy Spirit as a reward !" By no means ! Anyone who sees it that way has no idea of what real Christian living is. The Holy Spirit is a free gift from God, to be received at the very beginning of our walk with Him, as soon as we commit ourselves to Him. Normally, we should receive the Holy Spirit the day we are baptised in water, so as to be filled with the presence of God, and to be made into disciples like our Master, as the first disciples were.
On that day of Pentecost, they underwent a thorough transformation. They became different men, changed beyond recognition. Beloved, that is the kind of baptism we too need to seek with all our hearts. If we feel we have not received what Jesus and those first Christians had, let us spend time praying to the Lord, and fasting if need be. It is not that through our praying and fasting we can ever deserve that baptism : it is merely a way of showing the Lord that we are thirsty. Did not Jesus say : "If any man thirsts, let him come to me and drinkÖ out of his heart, rivers of living water will flow." (John 7:38). So if I thirst for the Lord and for His Spirit, if I thirst for more of His Spirit, I am going to show Him how eagerly I desire Him, and pray to Him, saying : "Lord, this isnít enough, I want more. Fill me, Lord, and extend my limits. I donít want to have to ask You to fill a mere thimble ; I want You to fill a barrel, Lord, and then a swimming-pool ! Extend my limits, Lord, and let there be a steady stream flowing down from heaven. Let it be constantly renewed and never remain stagnant, Lord : let it flow steadily into me and then out again, pouring down from on high and then out of me again like a river of life, flowing from you through me so that others will be blessed."
Then further on, in the same chapter, verse 16, "As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." Later on, in John 17, just before going to the Cross, Jesus prayed to His Father that we would be enabled to understand that God our Father loves us in the same way as He loves His only Son. Since that is what God declared to His Son, you need to realise that once you have received the Lord Jesus into your heart, you have become a son or a daughter of God ; and that same voice of God now says to you : "You are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased" ; or : "You are my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased. I want to fill you in the same way, so you will be changed into the likeness of Jesus ; I want to use you in the same way, so that you will do the same works that He did. So you need to be filled with my Holy Spirit, that is the one thing you need."
So however often we listen to good teachings, feed on the Word, listen to tapes, and read books, none of that can ever be a substitute for the actual presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Anything and everything that we do must help to bring us closer to God, so that we can say to Him : "Lord, fill me with more of Your Spirit, with more of Your Life !" Indeed, living with the Lord is far more than mouthing words : it means receiving Godís own Life into our innermost being.
When you watch me, you need to see Jesus living out His Life through me. When I watch you, I need to see Jesus in all that you say and do. If I could see your thoughts, Iíd say I need to see Him in your thinking. Whatever I am in thought, word, or deed must be a demonstration of the indwelling presence of the Lord within me, for I am His dwelling-place and all that is in me must honour Him. Therefore this dwelling-place must be made perfectly clean and worthy of Him. When I say it must be clean, I am referring to cleanliness of body, soul, and spirit ; to purity of the feelings, of the heart, of everything. My house, too, must be clean and tidy. Can you picture a child of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, living in a filthy slum, or in the midst of a revolting mess or a cluttered-up pigsty ? Of course you canít ! Once you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you clean out your house, first of all in the natural, and also in the deep places of the heart : both those things belong together, the heart being the more important of the two. My whole life must reflect the glory of God. The way I dress must reflect His glory : I will dress simply, perhaps, but my clothes will be clean. Filthy clothes would be a disgrace to the Lord. Even in the plainest of clothes, I must reflect the glory of God in my whole life; and above all, my heart must be clean, since that is what the Lord came for in the first place. Hallelujah !
To receive the Spirit of God in that way means that I must first be totally consecrated to God. If you hold back anything for yourself in your life, God will not be able to fill that part of it. If you say to the Lord : "Lord, I give You all that is within me, body, soul, and spirit. Fill the whole of me, Lord," you need to mean what you say, to be one hundred per cent consecrated to Him, and never look back.
Some Christians readily make a commitment when they turn to the Lord, because the preaching of the Word has moved their hearts. They respond to an altar call, they commit their lives to the Lord, then six months later, they backslide and return to their vomit and forget their commitment ! No, you turn yourself over to Jesus, body, soul, and spirit, for ever and ever, without the slightest desire or intention to go back on your commitment. When you come to that decision in your heart of hearts, God knows about it, and so does the devil.
You can expect trouble from the evil one, who canít stand deeply consecrated Christians. A truly consecrated Christian is a permanent threat to the devil. Did you notice what the devil did to Jesus ? Jesus had begun a forty-day fast in the wilderness, which was a terrific threat to the devil. The devil knew what a disastrous blow he would suffer if Jesus completed that forty-day fast after consecrating His life to His Father, to do all of the Fatherís will ñJesus always did all that was pleasing to the Father. The Holy Spirit had come down upon Jesus in the form of a dove : Jesus had been baptised in water and in the Holy Spirit, and that forty-day fast He had undertaken was a fearful threat to Satan. That is why the devil came and tempted Him, trying to stop Jesus and break up what He had begun to do. Satan fully realised what the consequences would be for him if he couldnít ruin Jesusí ministry, and cut it off there and then. It was sheer madness on the devilís part to think he could ever do such a thing, but he gave it a try.
So donít imagine that the evil one is going to leave you alone, especially if you have consecrated your whole life to the Lord. It was insane of the devil to choose to come and tempt Jesus, but he had to, so that Jesusí life would be a demonstration of victory. The devil is going to do the same thing to you and to all of us. So we need to be fully and permanently consecrated, body, soul, and spirit ; we know that if we are, we shall be filled with the presence of the Lord, who will be moving more and more in our lives, and so we shall be a growing threat for Satan, who will come and tempt us in all three areas : body, soul, and spirit.
Jesus was tempted in all three of those areas, remember. "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to turn into bread." Jesus was being tested, there, in the area of the body. The Lord resisted through the written Word and prevailed over Satan. Then the devil said: "Throw yourself down from the Temple, come on, put on a big show". That temptation was levelled at Jesusí soul, to provoke Him to self-exaltation and make Him seek the approval of men through an amazing achievement that had nothing spiritual about it. Once again, Jesus resisted, refusing to perform a miracle for the sake of an exhibition. That sort of temptation will often come to us in our own lives : we are tempted to make a display of the gifts the Lord has granted us, to make a show of the power of God, not really to benefit others, but simply to bask in the approval and glory that comes from men ! Jesus never did such a thing : He did the most wonderful deeds, but always out of sheer obedience to His Father, without ever putting Himself in the limelight. Once again, He resisted Satan through the Word of the Lord. Then came the ultimate spiritual temptation : "If only you will worship me, I will give you all the kingdoms of the world" Satan was perfectly aware that the kingdoms of the world were going to be given to Jesus Christ, but only after He had been crucified in order to redeem mankind. When the Lord comes into His own, very soon, when He returns to reign on earth, He will reign over an earth that is wholly His, for He has redeemed it with His Blood. What Satan wanted was to turn Jesus away from the Cross, so he set up a spiritual temptation : "Worship me !" Jesus resisted through the Word and drove the devil away. The devil left, and waited for a further opportunity, which came when Jesus was to be crucified.
What I wish to point out is that Jesus was able to resist those temptations and attacks from Satan through the Word of God, which is Spirit and Life ; He was in a position to do so because He was filled with the Holy Spirit and consecrated to God. We must do likewise ! There is no way we can resist the enemyís temptations unless we too are filled with the Holy Spirit and wholly consecrated to the Lord.
Let us now take a look at the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. Perhaps you are not concerned here, but I do believe that on the whole, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is greatly underestimated in the Church. It is not considered in the way the Lord wishes us to consider it. Very often it is viewed as an opportunity to exercise spiritual gifts, to exercise the power of the Holy Spirit to heal the sick, to perform miracles, and so on. However wonderful those things are, and they are, indeed, gifts from God, I do not believe that they are the Lordís main purpose. When the Lord grants us the baptism in the Holy Spirit, it is to cleanse us and to make us like Jesus. The other things will follow, of course : if we become more and more like Jesus, we are going to do the works He did, and manifest the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the glorious deeds of the Lord, but everything will be in the right order. One should not seek the works and the power of the Holy Spirit unless one is wholly consecrated to the Lord, unless one seeks obedience to Him, above anything else.
In the fourth verse of the first chapter of Acts, Jesus "gave them this command : ëDo not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirití."
I sometimes hear preachers saying : "Now that the Holy Spirit has been given, there is no need to wait !". In one sense this is true, because the Holy Spirit has indeed been poured out, He is on the earth, He is everywhere. However, we must have a correct understanding of this, because if we have not received the fullness of the Holy Spirit, we need to wait on the Lord so as to receive that fullness, and we need to pray for it. Even though the Holy Spirit has been poured out in abundance all around me and throughout the world, I myself may not have received the fullness of the Holy Spirit. It doesnít make sense to say : "Oh, well, since God has now sent His Holy Spirit, thereís no need to wait any longer, so letís go out straight away and spread the Gospel, and work for Jesus ; letís get on with the job !" The command Jesus gave to His disciples is also for us. Seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit as soon as you become a Christian, and keep on asking the Lord to go on filling you with His Spirit every single day ! It is not enough to pray just once, to say : "Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit !" the day you turn to the Lord for the first time. It does not suffice to have been baptised in the Holy Spirit and to speak in tongues, and so on. You must not stop there and say to yourself : "All right, now Iíve got it all, I donít need to pray about that any longer." Every single day you need to ask the Lord : "Lord, renew me in Your Holy Spirit, and give me more of Him. Let there be an ever-increasing flow from the wellspring."
The first verse of the second chapter shows us that the disciples waited ten days. Let me tell you something about that time of waiting. Do you know how those one hundred and twenty people waited ? They dropped everything else, their jobs and the rest of their daily activities. No doubt they had plenty to do ; but they declared : "First things first. Since Jesus said : ëIn a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirití, it is worth while spending those few days waiting on Him and praying to Him to send down His Spirit." They might have said : "Since Jesus promised that we would be baptised in the Holy Spirit in a few days, letís go back to business as usual, letís go and work in the fields, in the factories or in our homes. As soon as Jesus wants to send the Holy Spirit, sure enough, He will !" A great many Christians behave in that way. They say : "We donít need to pray, since Jesus has made a promise." The disciples could have taken that course. What they actually did was to stay all together in the same place, because it is better to be together to spend ten days praying there, day and night. "And they continued steadfastlyÖin prayers." (Acts 2:42). They prayed, they praised and worshipped God, and they gave themselves to prayer, saying : "Lord, You said you would do it, so do it !"
That is how we Christians should pray, no matter which one of the Lordís promises we are praying about. That is how we should behave in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit. That is how we can show the Lord that we thirst for the gift He promised. "Lord, You have said that you eagerly desire to fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Do it, Lord !"
If you think you are already sufficiently filled with the Holy Spirit, you donít need to pray like that ! But if you consider that you have not yet reached the full measure of the stature of Christ, then pray that the Holy Spirit will be granted to you in still greater abundance. That is how you will show the Lord that you are thirsty ; so you will receive what you are asking for. But ask for it with all your heart ! That does not necessarily mean that you are going to drop everything else for ten days, or for two or three weeks, or for three or six months, and do nothing but pray and wait ; it means that your heart must desire it. You may well be out on your tractor, or doing the washing-up, or tending your vines, or gardening ; but in your heart, you are having fellowship with the Lord and saying : "Lord, Lord ! reveal Yourself !" (for Holy Spirit baptism is a revelation of the Lord) "Reveal Yourself to me, fill me with Your Holy Spirit, fill me ! I am thirsty, and to show You how thirsty I am, Lord, here I am crying out to You, for more of Your fullness !"
And on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came down on each of the disciples. They began to speak in other tongues and to give glory to God in languages they didnít know. Tongues are indeed the first sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but they are not, as such, the baptism of the Holy Spirit ! The baptism of the Holy Spirit is far greater than that. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the very presence of God filling our hearts ; when that takes place, His presence abounds so greatly that there is an overflow of heavenly language, or a demonstration of those other gifts that the Holy Spirit grants us. However, in the first place, there must be a heart that thirsts for Your presence, Lord. And when the Lord comes down into my heart, He lifts me up into the heavenly places. Isnít that right ?
What a wondrous thing it is, when the Lord goes to the extent of coming down into a human heart ! It is His own light, His very own nature that comes down. His light floods the heart on the inside and lays bare all that had been concealed so far. The Lord shows me the deep, secret, hidden things that had never come to light. That is how He cleanses me on the inside. When we are not really and truly baptised in the Holy Spirit, we are unaware of our deepest sins, of the twisted things lurking deep down inside us. Most of the time, we donít know about them ! : However, we need to see them, so as to take them to the Lord, to repent of them, and to ask the Lord to cleanse us afresh with His Blood, deeper down inside our hearts. We need the Lordís own light to reach those places. When God revealed Himself to Isaiah, - we read about this in Isaiah 6 ñ the prophet exclaimed : "Woe to me !Ö I am ruined ! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips." Isaiah could not have made that statement before : but that is what he said when Jesus revealed Himself to him in all His glory and splendour, flooding his heart with light from above. That is a true Holy Spirit baptism. To receive the Holy Spirit in that way is to have the innermost parts of your heart directly flooded with Godís very own light, which brings out all that is still dark and shadowy, all that needs to be cleaned out and washed away by the Blood of Jesus. What a precious gift from God, when that light is sent down from heaven to cleanse our hearts.
Such a cleansing is indeed a most wonderful experience. How wonderful, too, to realise that God is willing to come into our hearts, that He is not repelled by hearts that are still unclean in His sight, and that He is eager, indeed, to come and cleanse us because He loves us. He wants to change us into His likeness and to fill us more and more with His life, with His gifts, with His nature. The Lord is in no way reluctant. He is amazing ! He does not hesitate to come to you and say: "You asked for my Holy Spirit : I have not waited till you were perfect on all counts in order to come into your heart, but I waited till you thirsted for Me, to be transformed by My Spirit, to be cleansed and filled with My very own nature so that your life will be a demonstration of what I am, ever more perfectly."
When the disciples of Jesus received that baptism, their lives were turned upside down. They went out into the streets, and began to speak in the languages of all the different peoples who were present in Jerusalem at the time. What were they saying ? They were speaking about the wonders of God, they were revealing the hidden things that the Holy Spirit had just imparted to them, the things they had just been filled with. They were speaking about the wondrous things God had done. How did they know about the wonders of God ? They didnít even know how : they were speaking in languages they had no natural knowledge of. Notice that the Holy Spirit who had just entered into them was already beginning to reveal the wonders of God to them, and through those Holy Spirit-given languages they were explaining and revealing the wonders of God to other men who could hear them speaking their own languages - an amazing supernatural occurrence. Whether your mother-tongue is Spanish, German, French or Italian, or even if you are speaking in a language you donít know, then the presence of the Holy Spirit is going to reveal Godís wonders to you : He will use your lips and mouth to impart those marvels to other people. You will receive deep revelations about the Lord Himself ; you will be able to take them into your own heart and to disclose them to others. When the disciples were speaking, their spirits had already received those revelations. When we speak in tongues, it is our spirits that are speaking, it is our spirits that are being built up. But it is the Holy Spirit within us who inspires those things, and what He inspires is truly wonderful. Hallelujah !
Immediately, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, and of course, he addressed the crowd. He was no longer speaking in tongues, but using his own language to disclose divine wonders that pierced the very hearts of all those who opened themselves up to his words. Peter witnessed to the Lord Jesus Christ and to His mighty works. He spoke about the glory of God, about the Cross of Christ, about how Christ was crucified and then rose from the dead. He spoke about the forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus. He spoke all those things from the depths of a heart that had been freshly filled with the Holy Spirit. More important than the terms he used was the presence of the Holy Spirit who inspired the speaking and covered it with His anointing. That is why Peterís words moved the spirits of the listeners : the Spirit of the Lord was expressing Himself through Peterís spirit. The Word, straight from the Holy Spirit, was issuing from Peterís spirit and lips, and being carried straight into the hearts of the listeners, since were are told that three thousand were converted. So you see that Peterís words owed their power and their cutting edge to the presence of the Holy Spirit, who anointed those words, and pierced and penetrated the hearts of the listeners. It was the Holy Spirit speaking out of Peterís mouth.
In Acts 2:37 we read: "When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart.". Peter had spoken briefly, simply and powerfully. You see how powerful the Holy Spirit is : God was speaking out of the disciplesí mouths. When He speaks through you or me, he demonstrates His power. If your hands are anointed by the Lord and you lay them on a sick person, the power of God flows out through your hands. If you speak out when the Spirit of the Lord fills you, then the power of God issues from your heart and anoints your words. We need to speak words that are oracles of God, words issuing from the Word and the Holy Spirit, so as to reach peopleís hearts.
If we revere the Lord and respect the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we will no longer be at liberty to say foolish or equivocal things, to make off-colour jokes or meaningless, coarse, worldly remarks. We will constantly be aware of the Lordís presence, and of the fact that He wishes to save or to build up those who are listening to us. We will always be connected to the fountain of Godís living water, so that His anointed words will issue from our mouths and be carried right into peopleís hearts. If we are not really and truly baptised in the Holy Spirit, what is it that will come out of our mouths ? A mixture of sortsÖ!
"TheyÖsaid to Peter and the other apostles : ëMen and brothers, what shall we do ?í Peter replied : ëRepent, and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive ñyou too ! - the gift of the Holy Spirití." As you can see, the gift of the Holy Spirit is the crowning of the work of salvation, which always begins with repentance and baptism in water in the Name of the Lord. Then immediately afterwards, "you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit", the same gift Peter had just received, the gift that can only be received into the hearts of repentant men and women who have sealed their commitment by being baptised in water in the Name of the Lord. That is how the gift of the Holy Spirit is granted to hearts that truly thirst, like those of Peter and the other disciples. "The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off ñ for all whom the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:39).
The same baptism that those disciples received on the day of Pentecost and that Peter demonstrated so powerfully in that harvest of three thousand souls, that same baptism is "for you and your children", and all those who will come afterwards. That means it is for us, today, who are living in the end-times, "and for all those who are far off, for all whom the Lord our God will call." That very same baptism is available to us : so I am not going to be content with a ten per cent, or even a fifty per cent baptism, or some sort of substitute for the baptism. What I want is what they received at the beginning, because it canít be improved upon. It canít be improved upon ! It would be a mistake to think that the Church in the end-times will enjoy a greater fullness than the early Church did. I donít believe that can be. In the early Church, we find the pattern for the Church throughout the ages, and we need to follow that pattern in all things, because God gave everything from the very beginning. If we, who are the end-time Church, were filled in the same way as the early Church, we would be witnessing the same things as the early Christians, that is to say the fullness of the presence of Jesus manifested in their midst.
In Acts 2:41, see what took place afterwards and what their lives were like after they were filled with the Spirit : "Those who gladly received his message were baptised." Although the text does not give a detailed account of this, I am sure that they were baptised in water on the same day, and that those who were baptised in water were also baptised in the Holy Spirit, for Peter had just declared : "You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
As we can see later on, that was the first question a disciple was asked : "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you first believed ? Were you filled with the Holy Spirit, baptised in the Spirit ? That was what Paul asked the Ephesians : "Did you receive the Holy Spirit since you believed ? Cornelius, a Gentile, was baptised in the Holy Spirit, and then in water immediately afterwards, for he had received what the disciples had been granted at the beginning.
"They continued steadfastly in the apostlesí doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers." (Acts 2:42).
Because they were baptised in the Holy Spirit, they continued steadfastly in these things. They had received the Holy Spirit, but they still needed to be built up, for the process of growth and building up begins on the very first day and goes on till the end of our lives as Christians on this earth, or till Jesus returns. They needed to be built up through teaching, through prayer, through fellowship, and through partaking of the bread and wine at Lordís Supper. Although they still needed those things, they already had the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Donít let us imagine that we can be built up through biblical teaching if we have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, unless the preaching of the Word, like Peterís preaching, leads us straight into repentance, water baptism, and Holy Spirit baptism. If I get interested in a message I am listening to, it is because the Holy Spirit within me is drawing my attention to it and using it to build me up. But if I were just a cold fish, I could listen to the best message in the world and never get warmed up at all, because there would be no abundance of the Holy Spirit inside my heart, and it wouldnít produce the effect the Word should have on me. Before I can listen properly, I need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
In the same way, beloved, we need to seek the presence of the Holy Spirit before we come to a prayer meeting, a teaching session, before coming together for a time of worship. Before a meeting, we should not say to ourselves : "Iím going there in order to be filled". Donít misunderstand me : in the course of a meeting, one may well be filled to overflowing with good things, but that is not the best way. The best way is to pray beforehand, to be ready beforehand, to be filled beforehand, and to arrive at the meeting with a glowing heart, ready to receive more or to give out all that we have already received from the Lord. If we all do that, how wonderfully we are all going to be blessed ! We shall no longer attend meetings merely to receive, but having been filled before we get there, we shall come laden with good things from the Lord that will bless our brothers and sisters. If they, too, come in that same Spirit, I will be blessed as well, because the Lord doesnít want it to be always the same ones who seek to get filled for the benefit of those who are always on the receiving end. Giving out, of course, doesnít mean that you end up empty, because it is from the Lord that we receive, but what a blessing it is for each and every one of us to receive from others what God has given them. We are a body : so we need to exercise the gifts God has granted us, so that the whole body will be built up. Therefore we need to prepare before we meet. Let us come to our meetings that way. Let us prepare even better than we have done so far, no matter what kind of meeting we attend : let us go there already filled, then pour out into the meeting what God has given us. Whatís more, we shall be much better prepared, spiritually, to receive whatever God wishes to give us during that meeting Hallelujah !
Let us read on, from verse 43 : "And fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles." Why ? Because they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesusí own Life had entered into them ; Jesus was manifesting Himself through them, working wonders and healings and miraculous signs. Indeed, Jesus was alive right inside them ! Jesus was using their hands, their bodies, their voices, and all that was within them to do His work, to continue His work.
I want Jesus to use me, to use my heart, my body, my mouth, my lips, my hands, my eyes, and my whole being, in order to do His work. I say to Him : "Lord, I know that You are alive within me, but I want You to be able to manifest Yourself fully and freely through my body which is Your temple ; I want You to use my soul and my spirit to bless this dying world and also Your Church, which needs You so much. I want You to use me to win souls to You, to build up Your Church and to bring glory to Your Name. Fill me with Your Spirit, Lord, with still more of Your Spirit."
The way they lived, day after day, bears witness to their being filled with the Holy Spirit. Verse 44 tells us that : "All the believers were together and had all things in common". Three thousand of them had been converted : thatís no mere handful, itís enough to populate a nice little town ! Well, they were scattered throughout the city of Jerusalem, in their houses, but they kept coming together, because they enjoyed the presence of the Lord in their brothers and sisters. When they had fellowship with each other, they were built up in wonderful ways, because they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
What an ordeal it is to be with a brother or a sister who lives entirely in the flesh and who is not at all Spirit-filled ! Far from enjoying the kind of fellowship that builds you up, you soon get worn out ! But the company of those who are filled with the Holy Spirit is like heaven on earth ! In a home, when both husband and wife are filled with the Holy Spirit, their coming together is heaven on earth ! When they see each other, when they pray together, they are in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. There are no longer any quarrels, any splits, any antagonisms, any crises. Both hearts have been filled with the Holy Spirit. That is also true of brothers and sisters who are together. And those early believers had "all things in common" ! They had got rid of the notion : "Hey, thatís mine ! Donít you take that, it belongs to me !" Remember the sermon on the Mount : "If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well." (Matthew 5:40). "Rather let your brother defraud you, instead of taking him to court," said Paul. Let him go ahead and cheat you ; you will receive far, far more, up there in heaven. Let him cheat you ! Let him !
How good it is to see them sharing all their possessions, which means that they were aware of each otherís needs. Whoever had plenty would give generously to his brother if he saw him lacking anything : so there was enough and to spare for everyone. Isnít that wonderful ? When I think of my African brothers who live on five pounds a month, and here we are complaining unless we get a fifty-pound raise on our monthly wages, here we are griping and fussing and exclaiming : "Itís not fair, itís a dogís life !" We Christians in Europe and in the western nations ought to be living on half of what we earn so as to be able to send the rest to our African brothers. They would eat it up in no time, but that would be great, because as it is, they are hungry. Of course, all of that needs to be done in the presence and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in the fullness of the Spirit ; for if it is done in the flesh, it is disastrous.
And they continued "daily with one accord in the temple." (Acts 2:46). In those days, they still attended the Temple. Later on, they met in each otherís homes. They broke bread in those homes, and had meals together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God. The way I see it, thatís a little corner of heaven on earth. They shared everything, they were constantly rejoicing and praising God ; they met and ate together with sincere hearts. No slander of any kind, no criticising, no false note. Nothing but sincerity and singleness of heart ! They shared whatever they had, led glad and simple lives, and, filled with the Holy Spirit, they told others about the Lord, and thousands were converted. They "enjoyed the favour of all the people." Indeed, they were filled with the grace of Jesus. Do you know what "the grace of Jesus" means ? It means love, no more and no less ! "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared" (Titus 2:11). For us, that grace has come through Jesus Christ. It means love. If I am filled with grace, I shall be filled with love for my brother and my sister. Far from hurting or grieving or disappointing them, I shall be a blessing to them.
Full of grace ! An inexhaustible flow of grace. "And the Lord added to the Church daily those who were saved." (Acts 2:47). One felt drawn to it. Why ? Because the teaching was good ? No, that was not why. Because they had the right kind of apostles ? No. Because they shared all their possessions and the poor had their needs met ? No, not at all. One felt drawn to that Church because God Himself was present in their midst, and He manifested Himself through them because they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. That is the only reason why. There is no other reason ! If we are all filled with that Spirit, none of us will do any faultfinding in our brotherís life, even if there are faults to be found in it. There will be so much love in our hearts that we shall be able to help him, pray for him, speak to him in loving ways, exhort him, and lift him up. Nobody will be demeaned or hurt, and peace will prevail in the power and the love of the Holy Spirit, and those around us will be attracted by the presence of Jesus.
Let us turn to chapter 4, verse 8: "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to themÖ" You see, Peter was there, on every occasion. He was summoned before the Sanhedrin : "Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to themÖ" He didnít worry about what he was going to say. Jesus had said : "Take no thought beforehand about what you will say."(Matthew 13:11). Make sure that you are filled with the Holy Spirit, and do not worry about what you should ñ or should not ñ do for your brother, or about what he has ñ or has not ñ done for you ! Make sure that you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then you will know what you need to do. Thatís all ! Let your only care be to live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and then you will know what to say and what to do.
Further on, in Acts 4:23, we see that after having been held and threatened, then released, the disciples were filled with gladness. "They went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voices to God." Let us do likewise ! "And they said : ëLord, you are God, the maker of heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and all that is within them. By the mouth of your servant David, you have saidÖí."
In verse 29, they remind the Lord of His promise. "And now, Lord, listen to their threats, and enable your servants to proclaim your Word with all boldness, and stretch out your hand to heal, so that signs and wonders may be accomplished in the Name of your holy Son Jesus."
Once they had prayed, the answer came swiftly. "the place in which they were assembled shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke Godís Word with boldness. And the multitude had but one heart and one soul." One heart, and one soul !
"None of them claimed any of his possessions as his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus."
What enabled them to witness so powerfully to the resurrection of Jesus ? It was because they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Not only did they witness to the resurrection ; they were also filled with the Holy Spirit.
That is the kind of baptism I want to see in my own life. That is the kind of baptism I want to see in the lives of my brothers and sisters, and I want to pray to receive it, saying: "Lord, send us a renewal ! A real renewal, Lord ! Not just that we may seek the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, whether it be in laughter, or weeping, or gifts which will be granted anyway, that is not what I desire most. What I long for is the presence of God in my heart, in great abundance ; a true Holy Spirit baptism that lifts me into the heavenly places, into the presence of God, and through which my life will be cleansed and transformed, so that the anointing of the Lord may come and remain. May I be constantly, daily doing the Lordís work, doing His will, healing the sick, proclaiming His Word which is able to change peopleís hearts, and casting demons out of those who are demonised. That is what I long for, Lord, both for myself and for Your people, Lord."
Let us pray, let us pray for those things, beloved ; for when the disciples prayed, "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." Of course, the prayer must be from a sincere heart ñhow could it ever be granted, otherwise ? If anyone is living in sin, how can he pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit ? He simply canít !
So out of the depths of hearts that long for the presence of God, and truly desire to walk in purity and holiness, let us pray fervently, like this: "Lord, please reveal more of Yourself, so that we may now receive a fuller measure of the divine Life of Jesus, so that the deepest places in our hearts will be opened up to Him. Lord, whatever parts within us have not yet been filled, let them receive of Your fullness now. Renew all that is within me, send down Your river of life afresh from on high, Lord : I truly desire to be, in Your hands, a perfect instrument that You can use, just as You, Lord, are perfect. Hallelujah !
Dear Father, I long for this heavenly gift in all of its abundance, all of its fullness. I long to be renewed by Your Holy Spirit tonight. Please do this for me and for each and every one of us who is now praying to You and asking for it. O Lord, renew us. See those who are threatening us, see what Satan is doing, Lord, and see what our enemies are doing to us, what the world and the flesh are doing. Father, I ask You to pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us like a mighty flood, to renew us, to fill us with Your love, Your peace, Your joy, Your heavenly power, Your wonderful fruit, Your gifts, and all the things that You have prepared for us through Your Holy Spirit. In Jesusí Name I pray, Father, Amen.