Rhythms of Grace – Always Be Filled with the Holy Spirit – John 20:19-23

When Jesus died, the disciples were devastated.  There lives had revolved around him these past three years, they had put their hope in Him, He had changed their lives and was changing their world …. and now, He was gone. Dead.  Cruelly killed. Their lives were now threatened.  They are in hiding, locked in, in an upper room.

Suddenly He is there, He has broken into their place of hiding.  Seemingly, Alive and Well. …… Peace be with you!

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Put yourself there with the disciples, Jesus is with you, sense His peace.  See his hands and side, evidence of His death, the signs of His sacrifice.  Here He is … real, not an illusion.  

Again He speaks

‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them, ….. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.

The Power to be, the power to live, the power to love, the power to serve, the power to demonstrate that God’s Kingdom has come. 

The power in which they are sent.

The power in which you are sent.

The power in which we are sent. 

Without the Holy Spirit we are not Christians, we are not followers of Jesus.  It is the Holy Spirit that regenerates life in those who believe and put their trust in Jesus.

Having begun our Christian lives by the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures then urge us to walk in close fellowship with him and continue in His power to work out our new life of following Christ.  This happens by continually receiving the Holy Spirit.

Eph 5:18 ‘be filled with the Spirit.’

present continuous tense – be filled and go on being filled with the Spirit.

We were saved by Grace and so must continue in Grace. Our growth and service to the Lord should be motivated, directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit through Grace. We must ‘walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature’ as Galatians 5:16 puts it. Accessing the vast supply of ongoing Grace through the Holy Spirit is the only way to live the Christian life effectively. We are dependant entirely on God yet must be responsive, completely to the Holy Spirit.

The New Testament indicates four key observable elements involved in the normal Christian birth: 

– repentance from dead works and all known sin; 

– faith in the finished work of Christ; 

– baptism in water as a sign of being a follower of Christ; 

– and baptism/filling (continuous) in the Holy Spirit as a ‘seal’ marking us as his people. 

These are all required for the Holy Spirit to interact with us in a way that will produce all that He desires. Anything lacking is like one of the valves in a four stroke engine misfiring; the car might still move but not how it was designed to.  You’ve all probably heard a four cylinder sermon!!

What a chore all this is

I have repent

I have to put my trust in Jesus

I have to get baptised

I have to receive and go on being filled with the Holy Spirit

Yes you have to …  but more than that you get to.


Our nature is changed through a miracle of the Holy Spirit. Once we were dead to God, blinded to the truth and incapable of seeing the reality of the Gospel. When we were ‘born again’ of the Spirit, a new heart or nature was created in us by a secret work of God only observed and identified by the fruit produced. 

The Old Testament hope In the Old Covenant God’s Spirit was very much seen as an invading elusive visitor to God’s people. It seemed that only specially selected individuals were endued with God’s Holy Spirit: mostly prophets, priests and kings. 

However the prophets in the Old Testament looked forward to a day when the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon all of God’s people, not just the select few for special tasks and seasons. Examples can be found in Joel 2:28 I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  

Ezekiel proclaimed a similar message, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you and will remove the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes” (Ezekiel 36:26–27).

And Moses’ prophetic desire expressed in Numbers 11:29. I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!  The sacrificial priestly system foreshadowed a greater and more perfect age to come when Christ our great sacrifice and high priest would come and do away with the things that only pointed to his day. 

The day of Pentecost in Acts 2 marked a new age of the Holy Spirit and his activity amongst mankind. This new dawn was longed for by those who looked for it in the Old Testament. But only in Christ and flowing from his victory on the Cross could this new age of the Holy Spirit be ushered in. We now live in this new age where God’s Holy Spirit is liberally poured out and made available for all who seek to know him. This is through Grace, there are no other criteria for receiving the full measure of the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives other than that we call upon Christ our Saviour.  

‘Gracious Lord Fill Me!’

The New Testament reality Acts 1: 4-5 and 2:1-17 shows the promises and longing seen in the Old Testament fulfilled. Jesus saw it as essential that his Church was endued with power from above before they undertook the commission he had given them in reaching the nations with the Gospel. If he saw it important then we must see it important.

The church is birthed by the outpouring of the Spirit as seen at Pentescost

Every sovereign move of God in church History is a demonstration of the Holy Spirit Power of God breaking in to the here and now.

Every time the Holy Spirit ‘comes upon’ or ‘fills’ a person they sense His presence and Power.

For all who believe and seek to follow Jesus, the Holy Sprit is present.

It has been likened to a pilot light that is always on

but when the HS fills us – whoosh – We know it 

Why is the power and gifts and fruit lacking in the church today? at least as compared with the accounts of the NT church?

Well I guess over time fewer and fewer people sought the gifts of the Holy Spirit or practiced their use. Consequently fewer people expected the gifts to be a normal part of church life. When no-one expected them I believe preaching and teaching then sought to normalise and explain their absence by finding passages that explained and fitted the current experience of the church. There is a warning here that we must always preach what the Bible says even if we are not experiencing it at present. 

For example I cannot with integrity teach that God makes people ill or that he ever wants them to be sick. I can only find examples of Christ healing people in his ministry. I can never find him saying ‘this affliction is good for your character development therefore I will leave you sick’. The reality though in life now is that I often find people are not healed. But if I twist Scripture to suit and fit my present experience, and what is often my pastoral observation, I limit faith being developed for greater things to be seen. More seriously, I actually distort Scripture to suit my own experience and observation. I would rather live with questions than change the message. 

I still long for the church, our church to move in the Power of the Spirit as I see it in the pages of the New Testament.

All this Grace we are missing out on.

We need both fruit and gifts and in great measure. This is the clear application of Scripture into our generation and all future generations until Christ returns.

Our nature is changed through a miracle of the Holy Spirit. Once we were dead to God, blinded to the truth and incapable of seeing the reality of the Gospel. When we were ‘born again’ of the Spirit, a new heart or nature was created in us by the work of God evidenced by the fruit produced. 

Being filled with the Holy Spirit should be normal experience to followers of Jesus. 

As followers of Jesus, it is important to be informed ‘of’ and confident in moving ‘in’ the gifts and ministries of the HS. 

Grace has not only saved us but has placed us into a position where we have purpose in the Kingdom of God. Christ has a calling on each of our lives, which he planned before we were born. He desires to equip and release each of us into this and He rejoices as He sees His calling on us unfold. This calling is not going to function in all the fullness possible unless it is energised by receiving of the Spirit for empowerment. 

Ephesians 1:13-14: ‘And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.’ 

Continuously being filled with the Holy Spirit is not automatic or unfelt; it is a constant seeking after and is evidenced and identifiable in our lives as a result. This is the gracious promise that all can access if they so desire.

Often people, whether newly saved or even after living as Christians for a while, are aware of areas of compromise and sin still troubling them in an ongoing way. It is not that nothing has changed, but rather that they wish to stop sinning in some specific areas that seem entrenched. They feel stuck and disempowered to push through. Often lack of intimacy with Christ causes a heart to remain still strong with affections for other things. Such a person might conclude ‘I must get this sorted out before I can ask God to fill me with the Holy Spirit’. This is like expecting a car to drive without petrol. The Holy Spirit is required in our lives precisely to help us change and grow. 

If we confuse justification with sanctification we will very likely end up in condemnation!

We cannot do it without him. He is not a badge of achievement that some receive having progressed to a more spiritual level. He is an essential foundation to any Christian life to make genuine and lasting progress that is full and robust in its nature. We simply cannot do the will of God without the equipping of God. 

In Grace God gives us the Holy Spirit to enable us to become all that he has called us to be and he will relentlessly and patiently work with us to achieve this.  We are promised ongoing Grace in Philippians 1:6:  ‘Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’. 

The Holy Spirit causes us to cry out ‘Abba Father’, in other words he causes our relationship with God the Father through Christ to have a conscious affection and intimacy about it. This draws us not to want to sin or have any other idols in our lives drawing our affection. Repentance and change is genuinely stimulated by intimacy not by fear.

The Doctrine of Grace is Transformational

we are forever declared righteous before God

It is unmerited and unlimited.

Paul is clear about our new standing before God

Rom 5:1,2

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this Grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

2 Cor 3:6

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

We need to be filled, soak in be saturated by the Holy Spirit

We will then lead each other into this new life in the spirit.

By Grace as followers of Jesus we are sustained by the Spirit who leads and guides us into spiritual freedom and Kingdom Power.

We need to take time to take in the glorious doctrine of Grace – The Holy Spirit is our guide.

Thoughts and Questions for group or individual reflection:

Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?  If not why not?

You have probably heard about the need to be constantly filled because we leak!  What are some of the causes of leakage?

What areas of your life do you think the Holy Spirit needs to work on?

How do you think Jesus maintained a fullness of the Holy Spirit?

How may we help one another to be ‘full’ of the Holy Spirit?

If you have known the Holy Spirit come ‘upon’ you in a dynamic way, you might like to share the experience.

What could our church look like if it was ‘full’ of people who are ‘full’ of the Holy Spirit?

Why not pray right now for the Holy Spirit to fill you.

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