Luke 24:46-49

[Jesus] told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

The Secret Power

In Luke 24:49 the King James Version reads – And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. I’d like to show you from the Bible, that it is a normal part of the Christian life to be filled with the Holy Spirit. What I share here is not an attempt to “win” you to a certain position, and we may even end up having to agree to disagree agreeably on this issue. That said however, as he referred to this subject of being endued with power from God the Holy Spirit, D.L. Moody taught that we need to be filled and refilled because we humans are leaky vessels compared to Jesus of Nazareth. Call it “baptized,” call it “filled,” we will probably agree that as Christians we need His power to live in this sin-sick world as a disciple of our Lord–and especially as this apostasy continues its inevitable growth.

As a matter of fact the great 19th century evangelist D.L. Moody was an instrument that the Lord used to bring hundreds of thousands into a saving relationship with God in Christ. And I say since we’re not seeing many who actually come to Christ these days that whenever we have the chance to hear what men who were used so mightily of God have to say then we ought to be like sponges and soak up every last drop of their godly wisdom. So, concerning our look into the vital importance of having more power from God to impact our world, let me pour out a little D.L. Moody from his classic book The Secret Power for us to readily absorb:

Those who have left the deepest impression on this sin-cursed earth have been men and women of prayer. You will find that PRAYER has been the mighty power that has moved not only God, but man… [Truthfully] there are many Christians in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, but upon whom He has never come in power; we need this secret power. [emphasis his]

Baptized And Filled

The Bible teaches that the very instant a human being becomes a believer in the Christ he is born again by the Holy Spirit (see–John 3:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 2 Corinthians 5:17). At that very moment God the Holy Spirit comes to live in you (see–John 14:17; Romans 8:9-11). However, this is where all the confusion comes in; because there are those who say: I got all of the Holy Spirit when I was saved, there is no need for me to be “filled” with what I already have. But my friend, while we who are Christians certainly do have all of the Holy Spirit, He does not yet have all of us–and so we must then be filled and refilled by Him.

Think of it this way, the Holy Spirit is an ocean when compared to us as human beings. We are like an empty bottle tossed into the sea. It would take a while for the water to enter into the smaller mouth of the bottle and then to eventually fill it until it would disappear beneath the surface of the ocean. And so it is with too many Christians today, just floating along on top of this ocean of power and fellowship with God the Holy Spirit, but unwilling to remove the stopper plugging up the small opening of our human bottle. O but if we would only remove that cork, then we would be filled immediately by Him, and begin to sink completely into the wonderful relationship that our loving Lord wants us to have with Him. And I might add, a relationship which was the norm in the New Testament, and exactly the power that Jesus is talking about in our text.

A large part of all this confusion (and who is the author of confusion?) surrounding our being filled with God the Holy Spirit comes from those who have been teaching that it wasn’t until the day of Pentecost that the disciples received the Holy Spirit. But the actual historical witness of Scripture itself shows this to be false. I say, a funny thing happens when someone puts his “feelings” aside, and just lets the text of the Bible speak; he finds the truth.

Let me show you in the Bible–from an eyewitness account–and from the lips of Christ Jesus Himself that His disciples received the Holy Spirit before the day of the “rushing wind,” and the “tongues of fire” later described in Acts 2. John chapter 20 these disciples who are about to be made Apostles and to graduate from students to messengers receive an unexpected visit from their Master, Jesus of Nazareth, after His resurrection from the dead in verse 21 – Again Jesus said; “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.

The Birth Of The Church Of Our Lord

It is here that these men become Apostles–apostolos–in the Greek, which means “one sent forth.” Now please follow closely here in verse 22 – And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” It’s tough to sneak a false teaching past Holy Scripture – For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword. Verse 22 again in the KJV, Jesus says – Receive ye the Holy Ghost – these men are born again right here; when God Himself breathes the breath of life on them–symbolic of when the LORD God breathed life into Adam in Genesis 2:7. Now look at verse 23 – If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven. Since this is one of the functions of the Church of our Lord, then right here we have the birth of the Christian Church; what was yet to come was the full power of God the Holy Spirit upon the Church.

With this background, now we can understand the Book of Acts properly. As we prepare to look at Acts chapter 1 and verse 4, how many have just received the Holy Spirit here in John? Eleven; as Judas had already hanged himself. Acts 1:4 – On one occasion while He [Jesus] was eating with them – [the Eleven] – He gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Let’s skip down to verse 8 – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. That’s because, as we have just seen in John 20:21, these men had received Him–the Holy Spirit was already in them.

Notice that Jesus refers to the gift My Father promised. Now think back to what the Master teaches us in Matthew 7:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (vv. 7-11)

Most of us already know that the original Greek is written to let us understand that Jesus is saying – “keep on asking; keep on seeking; keep on knocking” – for these good gifts. What is not generally thought about is what our Lord is telling us to keep on asking-seeking-knocking for, and this would be to be endued with power from on high, as well as to persevere for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And this is what the Apostle Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 14:1 when he says – Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts. It would be rather silly for the Master to tell us to keep on asking-seeking-knocking, and for God the Holy Spirit to confirm this by also telling us to eagerly desire something we cannot have, would it not?

And now we can move along here in Acts 1 to verse 15 – In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty). Notice how many are here, new people have been converted and added to the original Eleven. And then note the phrase among the believers – and we can’t escape it in the KJV either, for it reads among the disciples. The term “believer” is only used in the Bible for someone who has received Christ as their Lord and Savior. Certainly one would have had to have been a believer for God the Holy Spirit to inspire Luke to refer to them as the disciples. And we also have seen that the Bible teaches that once a person receives Jesus as Lord and Savior he is “born again,” and indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. So, for there to have been a hundred and twenty believersdisciples – the Holy Spirit would have had to have already come into these people to regenerate them.

To Be Possessed By God

Let’s look at the beginning of verse 8 once more – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. What is about to happen in Acts chapter 2 is for God to come fill them in power. We turn a page or two and look at Acts 2:4 – All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. These believers/disciples–already indwelt by the Holy Spirit–are now filled with Him. Turn a couple of more pages to the right to Acts to chapter 4 and you’ll see these very same believers are filled by the Holy Spirit yet again. Acts 4:31 – After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit – and watch what happens, they – spoke the Word of God boldly. That’s a clear indication someone has been baptized and filled with God the Holy Spirit–a bold witness for Christ.

Dr. Stanley Toussaint of the very dispensational DTS is right when he comments on Acts 2:4:

No believer there was exempt from this experience,… The filling with the Holy Spirit is separate from the baptism of the Spirit. The Spirit’s baptism occurs once for each believer at the moment of salvation (cf. Acts 11:15-16; Rom. 6:3; 1 Cor. 12:13; Col. 2:12), but the Spirit’s filling may occur not only at salvation but also on a number of occasions after salvation (Acts 4:8, 31; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 9:17; 13:9, 52) (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT, p.357, emphasis added).

The truth is, this deepening of your relationship with God–His filling you–and more fully possessing you is not something to be afraid of. Rather, the Bible tells us to be continually being filled with the Holy Spirit (see–Ephesians 5:18, literal Greek). It should be the goal of every Christian to be fully possessed by the Holy Spirit (see–Ephesians 1:13,14). After all, we who are Christian do belong to our Lord – Do you not know that you body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price (see–1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Today let’s fully give ourselves to Jesus, and see what He can do with us. Today, let’s put away our fear to ask God for whatever He may wish to give us. Let’s ask Him to fill us–to baptize us in His power–that same power we have read about in the Book of Acts. Remember Malachi 3:6 – I the LORD do not change. Well, He came into His Own world, and Hebrews 13:8 tells us that – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. So why shouldn’t it be able to be said of the Body of our unchanging Lord God Almighty-now today–just as it was said about the early Church of Jesus Christ in Acts 17:6 – “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here” – to every community He has sent us to.