Monday, June 19, 2006

The Divine Infilling Part 1

Since my congregation dismissed church last evening due to Father's Day, I asked my father's permission to allow me to give him a gift; for Father's Day I wanted to preach the Sunday evening sermon at my father's pastorate in honor of him on his day. He graciously agreed and so I filled his pulpit last night.

My main text was Ephesians 3.14-19, my favorite of all of the Apostle Paul's prayers recorded in Scripture. Today we will consider the first of three main points that I made during my sermon.

Let's look at the first division together:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, (Eph 3.14-16 ESV)
The Spirit of God is mysterious. We can visualize the God-Man, Jesus Christ. We can understand something of the nature of the heavenly Father due to Christ's description of him and our native understanding of human fatherhood. The Spirit, however, is different. It is hard to fathom a spirit, even so glorious a Spirit as God, himself.

Paul prays for the Ephesians that they are "strengthened with power through [God's] Spirit in [their] inner being" (Eph 3.16b ESV).

Please understand this point--Paul was praying for Christians, not sinners. Since all Christians already are in relationship with Christ's Spirit (Romans 8.9) Paul teaches us here that there remains a depth of a relationship we can sound with the Holy Spirit beyond initial salvation. We can go deeper, higher, farther in our relationship with the Spirit of the Lord.

Christianity isn't static but dynamic. Our relationship with the Spirit can be blazing hot, gently crackling the firewood or cooling like the dying embers of a soon spent fire.

We need the Holy Spirit's strength. Consider Adam Clarke's words in his Commentary:
Ye have many enemies, cunning and strong; many trials, too great for your natural strength; many temptations, which no human power is able successfully to resist; many duties to perform, which cannot be accomplished by the strength of man; therefore you need Divine strength; ye must have might; and ye must be strengthened every where, and every way fortified by that might; mightily and most effectually strengthened."
Let me ask you--how is your relationship with the Spirit? Is he a powerful reality in your life or do you tend to think of him in theological abstractions? Is he your friend or do you treat him like a distant acquaintance? You will never be satisfied with your life in God without a powerful infilling of the Holy Spirit (unless you are deceived and oblivious of your spiritual bankruptcy).

When Paul writes, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit," (Eph 5:18 ESV) he uses some specific Greek grammar (present passive imperative) to make his point. Paul wrote, "Keep on being filled with the Spirit." In other words, it's not a once for all time deal. You must live surrendered to the powerful Spirit of God.

Are you filled?