MARKS OF A SPIRIT FILLED CHURCH

MARKS OF A SPIRIT-FILLED CHURCH by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

MARKS OF A SPIRIT-FILLED CHURCH

Acts 3:1-10  1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple;  3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.  And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”  5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.  6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”  7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.  8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.  9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God.  10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Overall Background:  The Book of Acts could be referred to as the Book of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2 we read about His coming — 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Some people have misinterpreted that verse to think that the Holy Spirit is like a wind or some mystical power or force. The first thing that you and I need to understand is that the Holy Spirit is a real person with feelings, emotions, and personality. The Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as “He” or “Him” and never “it.”

The second thing to remember is that the Holy Spirit came as promised by Jesus to His disciples— John 14:16  16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth… Jesus sent Him to take His ministry to a whole new level—John 16:7-8  7 “…I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. Where Jesus in His humanity could only be with one of us at a time, the Holy Spirit can be with all of us all of the time. But the most important thing: He came to glorify Jesus Christ—John 16:14 He will glorify Me…

The whole purpose of the Holy Spirit is centered on Jesus Christ.

What happened when He came? Incredible things began to happen:

–       He transformed the previously timid and no-count disciples into fearless apostles. Acts 2:14 “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice” What a transformation from the Peter who couldn’t stay awake and pray with His Master! This same Peter denied Jesus three times, to the point of cursing Him.

–       He took the ministry of Jesus to a whole new level. At the end of Peter’s sermon. Acts 2:41 “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”

–       He took the previously unreliable and unfocused group of men and women and organized them into a dedicated and focused church. Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. The list goes on and on—caring for each other’s needs, meeting from house to house, praising God, having favor with all people, and more were added.

How did all this happen? Acts 2:4 gives us the secret, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” It means that they were under the full control and direction of the Holy Spirit. He was in charge, calling the shots. Not only that, but He brought with Him all the resources they needed to accomplish the task that Jesus had given to them. He brought for them everything they needed to be like Jesus. In short, it was a Spirit-filled church.

In Acts 3, we come across an incident that shows us what this Spirit-filled church looks like. It was marked by three very important things. If we are going to be a Spirit-filled church, these are the very things that should mark us – Love, Hope, and Liberty.

MARK #1 – LOVE

Background: We just read about the incident where Peter and John were walking into the temple and they came across a man who was lame from his birth. Where I grew up, I saw thousands of such men, women, and children. In fact, I remember a blind man who used to sit on the bridge by the train station. I remember seeing him as a little boy and he was still there when I left as a teenager to come here. He would sing beautifully all day. If I had a quarter, I would drop it in his cup. He would climb up and down the bridge with a cane. He was just a fixture.

This was not an unusual sight for Peter and John. They had seen thousands of such people. There’s a reason why this incident is mentioned in this book. Peter and John and the rest of the church were now filled with the Holy Spirit. Their eyes had changed. They didn’t see the same way they used to see. 4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”

The Holy Spirit had given them Jesus eyes – eyes of compassion, mercy, and love. He was not a fixture anymore. He was a real person with real feelings, real pain, and real needs. Can you imagine the conversation between Peter and John? – “You see him.” “I’ve seen him all my life.” “It must be hard living like that.” “If Jesus were here, He would do something.” “Let’s go talk to him.”

The Holy Spirit had transformed their judgmental, critical, negative, condescending eyes into the eyes of love and compassion. The first fruit of the Spirit is Love (Galatians 5:22). We know that the Father is love (For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son – John 3:16); we know that Jesus is love; but did you know that the first evidence of the Spirit filled life is “Love.” Not human love where we love those who love us and love those who are lovable but love that loves those who hate us and loves those who are unlovable. Only the Holy Spirit can give us such a love.

Romans 5:5 “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Show me a person who is busy finding fault, constantly critical, constantly hateful, and I will show you a person who is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Show me a family that is constantly at each other’s throats and I will show you a family that is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Show me a church that is constantly bickering and fussing and fighting and I will show you a church that is not filled with the Holy Spirit. They may make a lot of noise but it is nothing more than “sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” (I Cor. 13:1) But show me a church that loves Jesus, loves each other, and loves the lost and I will show you a church that is full of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Does that mean there will not be any problems? Of course not! But “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (I Pet 4:8)

That’s why church is unlike any business or organization. You can run a business and not love your customers; you can run a clinic and never love your patients; but you can never work with God without love. Only love can break down all barriers and only the Holy Spirit filling a church can give that kind of love to each other and those outside.

Do you have love in your heart? The real question is “Are you filled with the Spirit?”

MARK #2 – HOPE

What is interesting is that they didn’t just love this man but they had hope for him.

Background: This man was lame from his mother’s womb. He had never walked before. He never expected to walk ever. He was hopeless. He was expecting some money so he could buy some food.

Imagine once again Peter and John talking – “What do you think he wants John?” “Same thing he’s always wanted – some money, maybe food and clothes.” “What would Jesus do for him?” “I think He would make him walk.” “Let’s go make him walk.”

4…Peter said, “Look at us.”  5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.  6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

The Holy Spirit had transformed their hopeless, powerless lives into hope-filled, power-filled, radiant lives. Rom. 15:13  “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” When the Holy Spirit comes in all fullness, He brings hope, abounding hope.

For e.g. The year was 2005. Nicole and I had been in Henderson for 7 years. We had done our best to reach people. We had worked two jobs. We would hear things like—“No one will ever come to your church.” “You are wasting your time.” We were not immune to the “greener-grass syndrome.” It was a very discouraging time to say the least. This was also the time that God was teaching me about the life of Christ—Spirit-filled life. God began to impress upon our hearts that we are to invest our lives in this community. This was not a stepping-stone. God began to fill our hearts with hope for this 30-mile radius. It would be another 3 years before we would leave the old building and begin afresh but hope had come into our hearts. In 2008 we finally moved and began the work of tearing down the old and building the new—new constitution, new core values, new mission. 5 years later, look where we are today! That’s what hope will do for you!

Show me a person who is hopeless and I will show you a person who is not filled with the Holy Spirit. Anytime I hear I don’t think it’s going to work or I’m afraid it’s not going to work and I see a person who at that moment is not filled with the Holy Spirit. The problem with our nation and our community is hopelessness. You can talk about hope and you can make hope your campaign slogan but if there is no genuine hope, nothing will happen.

MARK #3 – LIBERTY

Background: Look at what happened to him – And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. No baby-steps here. He is jumping for joy!

The Holy Spirit had transformed his bondage to liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17 “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” What is Liberty? It is not liberty to sin. It is liberty from every man-made formalism, tradition, and legalism. Don’t misunderstand me – The Holy Spirit will inspire you to obey God but it will not assist you in your dead, meaningless rituals. D.L. Moody once said, “there must be a funeral in a good many churches before there is much work done, we shall have to bury the formalism so deep that it will never have any resurrection.” I’ve had some people come to me wanting to resurrect the old—“Back in our home church.” Very nicely and yet firmly, I reminded them that five years ago, we had a funeral. This is a Spirit-led church. This is a Book of Acts church. In fact, I have actually counseled people to go to other churches.

What is the benefit of having a Spirit-led, Book of Acts church? 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God.  10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Excerpts from the Letter to the Kindle Ministry from Flint Hill.

The world wants to see a church doesn’t make any sense.

Application: We cannot live without the Holy Spirit. If you are leaning on anybody but the Holy Spirit this morning – not only are you miserable but also you are making that person miserable. You are expecting from them what only the Holy Spirit can do. A person who is filled with the Holy Spirit will be filled with love, hope, and liberty. He will set your eyes on the crucified Jesus Christ.

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