The pleasures of the world and of the flesh do not compare with the power of the Holy Spirit and the effects His presence has on man’s spirit, soul, and body. For so long we have played church and set up the meeting houses as social clubs while minimizing and sometimes outright denying the overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised. Why would anyone be drawn out of the world with such a powerless gospel? Why wouldn’t people want to revel in addictions, lusts, numb out and escape reality through a variety of temporal pleasures if the church does not offer what is real and freeing and beyond what the world offers? When the local church preaches a weak and mealy-mouthed gospel who would want to give all to follow that?
The great deception in our age is that we must come away from the things of the world and live staunch and pompous lives to please God. Nay, I say! When we come to God by believing in Jesus and are filled with the Holy Spirit to take on Christ’s nature and leave our old nature on the cross, then we have access to blessings, revelations, and power over the evil one that Jesus did. In Him we are pure and righteous, for we take on Christ’s holiness. Here we will be so close to the One who made us we will not only revel in His presence but heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and accomplish all manner of miraculous works that He desires to do through us as He empowers us with His Holy Spirit. We have His peace and joy that overtakes us to a degree that makes every worldly distraction or enticement pale in comparison to the experience of God within us. In His presence, we lose the taste for worldly pleasures when we at last discover the reason we were created – Intimacy with the Almighty.
When the Holy Spirit fell upon the believers at Pentecost everything changed. What is Pentecost? The Jews celebrated Shavuoth, the Festival of Weeks which observes the time when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple as well as the giving of the Torah (Law) at Mount Sinai. The disciples were commanded by Jesus to dwell in Jerusalem and wait. The did so in an upper room and they tarried there to see what the Lord would do. Pentecost means “fiftieth” in Greek from the word Pentekoste. Jesus was on the Earth for 40 days after His resurrection and ascension into Heaven, and there were 10 days between his ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) 40 days+10 days = 50 days. On the 50th day, instead of giving them the Law, God gave them the Holy Spirit which was provided because Jesus fulfilled the Law with his sacrifice on the cross. The Holy Spirit showed up and was poured out to dwell in those present and for believers throughout the ages.
At Pentecost Peter explained the evens to all those who had witnessed Jesus’ promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He explained how this event fulfilled what was proclaimed by the Prophet Joel from the Old Testament:
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Acts 2:14-21 and Joel 2:29-32)
What do we need to enter into this divine existence of the Holy Spirit living in us and pouring out through us on earth? Andrew Murray (1828-1917) in his book Experiencing the Holy Spirit reveals the one thing needed to experience this outpouring of the Holy Spirit which is naturally evidenced with “the greater works than these” that Jesus promised is a total giving up of our lives to God:
One great stumbling–block lies in the way of the full blessing of Pentecost. It lies in the fact that two diverse things cannot at the same time occupy the very same place. Your own life and the life of God cannot fill the heart at that the same time. Your life hinders the entrance of the life of God. When your own life is cast out, the life of God will fill you. As long as I myself am still something, Jesus Himself cannot be everything. My life must be expelled, then the Spirit of Jesus will flow in. Let every seeker of the full blessing of Pentecost accept this principle and hold onto it.
We must eventually come to this point. As long as a Christian imagines that in some things – for example in his eating and drinking, in the spending of his time or money, or in his thinking and speaking about others – he has the right and the liberty to follow his own wishes, to please himself, and maintain his own life, he cannot possibly attain to the full blessing of Pentecost.
…It is an unspeakably holy and glorious thing that a man can be filled with the Spirit of God. It demands inevitably that the present occupant and governor of the heart, our individual self, be cast out and everything be surrendered into the hands of the new inhabitant, the Spirit of God. If only we could understand that the joy and power of being filled with the Spirit will come once we comply with the first and principal condition – namely, that He alone be acknowledged as our Life and our Leader.
At last, we have tasted and seen being in the world results only in emptiness and destruction and the social church offers no power or authority over all that Jesus said we had power and authority over. We are so hungry for God that we are coming into a season of outpouring. Let us enter into the reality that God provided a way for us through Jesus’ work on the cross to operate as the Body of Christ. As believers, we are to be a church without walls that embraces brothers and sisters who believe in Him from around the world. We are to be a church that operates in the various giftings of the Holy Spirit and bearing the Fruit of the Spirit, so that we may build one another up and draw all men unto God through Jesus Christ.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’”
“Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. If you love me, keep my commands. 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 world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.’ Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, ‘But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’ Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.’”
II Timothy 3:1-17
“But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. hey are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth.They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings – what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”