God’s Promise Of Power
"Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me"(Acts 1:8).
"Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost" (Acts 8:14-15).
It is one thing for you to possess the Holy Spirit, and it is another thing for Him to possess you. You can have eternal life and yet not have abundant life. It is one thing for you to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit; and it is another thing for the Holy Spirit Himself to flow out of you as "rivers of living water" (John 7:38). You must receive Christ as your Saviour before you can receive the Holy Spirit as your Indweller.
Many say that because the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost there is no necessity for us to tarry to be endued with power from on high. I believe that is why we have such a woeful lack of power in our ministry. I stand with Booth, Moody and Torrey, and declare there is only one way to have power today for Christian service and that is by waiting until we are endued with power from on high.
When we started our revival meetings in Europe, I had meetings first just for the ministers and Christian workers. I asked them all to come and kneel at the front and we once again presented our bodies a "living sacrifice" (Rom. 12:1), and we asked for a special baptism of power for those revival services. Only as we wait in His presence do we receive a fresh unction of heavenly power. Unction is the supernatural power of God resting upon His messenger. We need to wait in God’s presence. We need to know we have this baptism of divine power.
Oh, if only pastors and a few believers would pray on Saturday night – pray from 10 o’clock to 6 o’clock on Sunday morning! Or if they would rise up at 4 o’clock on Sunday morning and pray for mighty deluges of the Holy Spirit on the Lord’s Day – it would revolutionize their ministry! It would revolutionize the Church.
Why the Lack of Power?
I believe that the first great reason why so few believers are full of the Holy Spirit is because they are not ready to receive this priceless blessing from God. I believe that the gift of the fullness of the Holy Spirit is the greatest blessing that comes to the heart of any child of God!
I hear believers pray, "O, God, fill me with Thy Spirit." People who are living in sin – Christians who are living in disobedience – believers whose lives are not on the altar – men and women who are not trying to win souls for Christ, very glibly pray, "O, God, fill me with Thy Spirit." I am horrified when I hear people pray like that when they are not ready to receive Him. Oh, if only we were ready – I believe God would give this baptism of divine power instantaneously. I wonder, are you ready?
"You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts" (Jas. 4:3).
You cannot have power if you do not want holiness of the Spirit. Many of God’s people do not want to lead a holy life, but they want this supernatural unction of the Holy Spirit that they may be successful in "their" Christian work. What a tragedy! What blasphemy! They want to be able to talk of "my converts; my church; my work." I wonder if your motives are pure when you seek to be filled with His Spirit. I ask you now, and I ask myself, "Am I doing this for God’s glory and for His glory alone?" Why do you, why do I want this divine blessing?
God Gives the Holy Spirit To Them That Obey Him
Another reason why so few are full of the Holy Spirit is that they are not willing to deal with disobedience in their life. Disobedience is sin.
You would not drink out of a dirty milk bottle, would you? You would not use a dirty vessel in your home. It would have to be cleansed before you would use it. It is an insult – it is blasphemy, to ask God to fill a dirty vessel with His Spirit. It is not great sins that hinder believers from being filled with the Spirit, but legitimate things. Things that are not sins have to go when you are full of the Holy Spirit.
"All things are lawful…but all things are not expedient" (1 Cor. 6:12). There are things in your life which are not sin but they are a spiritual hindrance, and they are a stumbling block to God having right-of-way in your heart and life. Do you understand what I mean? If the Holy Spirit would convict you of it now, would you be willing to let God deal with it, and let it go and let the Blood of Christ wash it away? (1 John 1:7).
Thirsting for God’s Fullness
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Matt. 5:6).
Again, so few Christians are filled with the Spirit because they are not thirsting after God and longing to be filled with all His fullness. You can never be filled with the Spirit until you thirst after Him as a hart thirsts after water brooks.
I spent hours, I spent days waiting upon God for the fullness. Some fine Christian people told me I was a fanatic, and when I used to come to church on Sunday mornings, you could see by my eyes that I had been up all night. Some would say with scorn, "Uh, had a prayer meeting last night, Jimmy?"
I said, "Yes." And they gave me a look as if I was a bit off in my head. Oh, yes, I was only a boy fourteen years of age, and they laughed me to scorn because I had a burden for lost souls – souls without Christ and without hope.
I knew God commanded me to be filled with the Spirit. I knew I had to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I was hungry. I was thirsty for Him. When other boys were out playing football, I was left alone. Oh, I was hungry for God! I thirsted for God!
Be Filled with the Spirit
I plead with every child of God to pray what the saintly Murray McCheyne prayed, "O God, make me as holy as it is possible for a saved sinner to be this side of eternity."
In other words, that Presbyterian minister of Scotland, Murray McCheyne prayed, "O Lord, my heart is hungry. Lord, lead me into Thy fullness."
James A. Stewart, born in Scotland, started evangelizing at age 14, and became an international evangelist, revivalist and author greatly used of God. He died in 1975.