Thursday, November 5, 2009

Where Is the Power?

God has promised us power to do His work through His Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). How do we obtain this? If we look at the Book of Acts, we find that the disciples were not filled with the Spirit of God as a one-time thing, but that the same people could be filled again to meet new situations. Now there are two words translated "filled". One, in Ephesians 5:18, refers to God's enabling us to obey Him. But the one used in Acts refers to God's empowering us for service. At Pentecost, those present are filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). But later Peter and John are filled again (Acts 4:8) when faced with opposition by the Jewish leadership. Paul is filled at his conversion (Acts 9:17), but later was filled in a new way to handle an opposing sorcerer (Acts 13:9). "Filled" is in the passive, and while one time it was in answer to prayer (Acts 4:31), it is pictured as something God does to us. The ultimate case of this was John the Baptist, who was filled and acted on that filling in his mother's womb (Luke 1:15, 41). But is this filling connected at all to what we do?

Let us look at the case of King Saul. Saul was told by Samuel to go to a certain oak and receive two loaves of bread from the people there. Then he was to go to a certain hill and meet prophets playing music, and the Spirit of God would come upon him (1 Samuel 10:1-13). No one that I know of claims the way to be empowered by the Spirit today is by doing these things. Later, God took the Spirit away from Saul because of two acts of disobedience (1 Samuel 16:14). Now he was not told, "You have two strikes and you're out," but God knew Saul's heart and decided that was it (1 Samuel 15:22-31). Later, King David committed two more serious sins (adultery and murder; see 2 Samuel 11), but he prayed that the Spirit would not depart from him (Psalms 51:11) and He did not. But later, Saul is in pursuit of David with murder in his heart. He is as far from any truly spiritual state of mind as a man can be. And the Holy Spirit comes upon him, causing him to prophesy so David escapes (1 Samuel 19:18-24).

The empowerment of the Spirit is given by God to fulfill His purpose, even in ways we would not anticipate. But if we are attempting to follow God, if we are trusting in Him and praying for His assistance, God will provide us the power we need to accomplish His purpose in our lives. But it is His purpose, not necessarily what we want (Romans 8:28, 12:2; Ephesians 1:11).

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