Acts 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Here we have another fulfillment of Acts 1:8. It was also a direct answer to the believers’ prayer in verse 29. The point is, the Holy Spirit isn’t given to us just to make us feel good (even though it can feel very good indeed) but rather to empower us to be Christ’s witnesses. Much of what we see on the Pentecostal/Charismatic scene is inward-focused: “Come to this conference and be blessed.” We have far too many “Charismatic junkies,” eager for the next conference so they can get their fix, instead of proclaiming Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. That naturally turns some other sincere Christians off, causing them to write off the whole business. Both sides of that are tragic! Paul addressed this issue at some length in 1 Corinthians 14. “Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:12) “Charismania” was a problem even in the 1st Century! Every believer should indeed desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit as much as possible, but we must remember that God has His purposes for every gift, and so seek the Giver rather than the gift itself, so that we may be useful to Him.
I’ve certainly experienced this in my own life. As I shared again in the message this past Sunday, my baptism in the Holy Spirit was delayed because I was seeking the gift of tongues more than I was seeking the Holy Spirit. It was only after I separated those two in my understanding and simply asked to be filled that God acted. At the time, I felt nothing, which was a good lesson in not pursuing feelings, but two days later I abruptly realized I was sharing Christ with a total stranger for the first time in my life, and with that realization I remembered Acts 1:8, and knew that God had been true to His Word. A couple of months later God did give me the gift of tongues, and in the years since then I have experienced all of the gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12, and others, but I have had to remember that every instance of every gift is to build up the Body of Christ in some way, giving God alone glory. I haven’t been faced with the threat of imprisonment for my faith, much less martyrdom, but many across the world today encounter such risks daily. I am to pray for them earnestly, and seek to be available to God for however He wants to work through me where I am, for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for what You are doing in this church. I pray that everyone in this church would indeed be empowered by Your Spirit as Christ’s witnesses, both in word and in action, so that many may be liberated from the traps of the enemy, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!