Abundant Living Is Possible
Godís wonderful plan of salvation is absolutely perfect. But we must admit that the vast majority of Christians are living on the lower plane. The question arises, "Is Godís plan practical?" Is it possible for the average Christian to live his life on the highest plane?
Perhaps some of you are saying, "The truth regarding life on the highest plane is Biblical and logical, but it does not match my experience nor that of many Christians of my acquaintance. Is not Godís plan of salvation too perfect to be practical in a world like this? Is such fullness of Christís life possible for each of us?"
Everything in Godís Word proves its practicability and possibility for every Christian. Whoever has Christís life in any measure may have it in fullness.
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
"For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in Him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power" (Col. 2:9-10).
John the Baptist in two wonderful proclamations, declared the entire scope of Christís work when he said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29), and "He that sent me to baptize in water...the same is He that baptizeth in the Holy Ghost" (John 1:33). Christís twofold work was to take away sin and to baptize in the Spirit. Part of Christís work was to bring every Christian into as definite a relationship to the Holy Spirit as he has to Himself, although it was to be a different one.
Christ promised to bestow a gift upon the one who received Him as Savior, which would bring perfect satisfaction and sufficiency to him and then through him overflow in rich blessing into other lives. Christís offer to the Samaritan woman was a gift which would change her source of supplies from a water pot to a well, and then convert her life into a channel through which rivers of Living Water should flow.
The Holy Spirit Ė Christís Gift to the Believer
What the gift was we are told explicitly.
"But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believed on Him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39).
Please note that in this verse Jesus tells us three things:
(1) What the gift was Ė "The Spirit"
(2) To whom given Ė "They that believed on Him."
(3) When bestowed Ė "When Jesus was glorified."
In the divine plan there is as definite a purpose in the gift of the Spirit as in the gift of the Son. Through the Son the sinner has life; through the Spirit the believer has life more abundant. Through the Son the sinner leaves the sphere of the natural and enters the sphere of the spiritual; through the Spirit the believer is lifted to the highest heights of the life on the spiritual plane.
It is Godís purpose that every Christian should live a life of deep, growing spirituality. The Holy Spirit lives within us to accomplish this in three ways. He reveals through the Word the fullness to be had in the glorified Christ; He creates in our hearts a desire for this fullness; then He acts as the channel for its transmission from Him to us.
In one terse command God shows us the highest point the believer can reach in relationship to the Holy Spirit. "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18).
"Be filled with the Spirit." You have Him dwelling in you. But that is not enough. Give the Spirit full right of way. Let Him fill you from center to circumference. Permit Him to energize you with His mighty power through filling you with Himself.
"Be filled with the Spirit." This is every Christianís birthright. By virtue of the new birth he has the right to such fullness. It is not the privilege of a few but the prerogative of all. Are you despising your birthright, as Esau did his, and selling it for a mess of pottage? Do you care more for pleasure or money or position than you do for the fullness of the Holy Spirit?
"Be filled with the Spirit." This is every Christianís need. No one can live a truly spiritual life without the Spiritís fullness. One hundred and twenty were filled at Pentecost, only eleven of them were apostles. Some were women who went back home to cook, to sew, to care for a family. Others were men who returned to the field and the shop. The names of only a very few are recorded in the Bible, but I have no doubt that the rivers of living water flowed from their lives into other lives.
Do not think you are too young to be filled with the Spirit. It will save you from the years of wilderness wandering of many older Christians. Do not say that you are too old, that the hold of sinful habits is too strong upon you. Give the Spirit a chance. Only admit that to be filled with Him is your greatest need and submit your life to Him and He will do the rest.
"Be filled with the Spirit." This is every Christianís responsibility. "Be not drunk with wine." Do you obey this command? Surely you do. "Be ye filled with the Spirit." Do you obey this command? Why not? Is it not equally binding upon you?
Suppose your pastor were habitually dead drunk. Would your church take any action regarding such conduct? Suppose he is not filled with the Holy Spirit and never has experienced such fullness. What is done about it? Is not one command just as binding as the other? Is not God dishonored through disobedience to one just as much as to the other?
As no Christian is refused the blessing of such an experience, so none will be exempt from its responsibility. As refusal of life in Christ is the greatest sin of the unbeliever, so refusal of the abundant life through the Spirit is the greatest sin of the believer. The fullness of the Holy Spirit is not optional but obligatory. "They were ALL filled with the Holy Ghost."
"Filled" Ė "Full" Ė "Fullness."
"Be filled with the Spirit" Ė A Crisis.
"Full of the Holy Ghost" Ė A State.
"Filled unto all fullness" Ė A Process.
The apostles were with Christ for three years but they were not filled with the Holy Spirit until the day of Pentecost. This was a crisis. But they were filled more than once, until we read of Stephen and of Paul that they were "full of the Holy Ghost." This was a state. But there was an inexhaustible, infinite fullness from which they might draw according to their receptive capacity, so there was a continuous infilling. This was a process.
There should be a definite time when we are "filled" for the first time. But there should be repeated infillings that we may be habitually full and yet ever taking in more and more of the fullness of God. To be spiritual one must be filled and kept filled.
Manifestations of the Holy Spiritís Fullness
Scripture clearly teaches a threefold manifestation:
The Realization of Christís Abiding. "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith..." (Eph. 3:16-17).
The lives of the early Christians seemed fairly surcharged with a vivid, joyous consciousness of the presence of their glorified Lord. He was very real to them. Is the spiritual presence of the living Lord such an intense reality to you? This is one of the rich rewards of a Spirit-filled life.
The Reproduction of Christís Holy Life. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law" (Gal. 5:22-23).
Compressed into these nine exquisite graces is a marvelous word picture of the character of Jesus Christ in its essential beauty, symmetry and perfection. Such character is not the product of human nature but the fruit of the divine nature. When the Holy Spirit fills us, He reproduces Christís life within us.
The Re-enactment of Christís Supernatural Power. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
The fullness of the Holy Spirit is the only thing that will change a carnal Christian into a spiritual one. On the day of Pentecost the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, and a casual comparison of their lives before and after Pentecost reveals a marvelous change. They had daily companionship with Christ; He had taught them deep truths and shared His prayer life with them; they had lived for three years under the spell of His matchless personality.
Yet witness the failure, defeat and sin, jealousy, ambition, selfishness, pride, cowardice, self-will, self-love, self-seeking Ė all were there largely as before. But at Pentecost self was dethroned and Christ was enthroned and became the Life of their life.
The result was sevenfold. They became men of perception, purity, passion, prayer, power, persecution and praise. They knew their Lord and apprehended the deep truths of salvation. They became men of pure heart. Pride was displaced by humility; selfishness by love; cowardice by courage; and worldliness by heavenly-mindedness.
Within their renewed, satisfied spirits was kindled a passionate desire to win others to the Lord who had saved and transformed them. This sent them to God in prayer which became their chief delight and constant occupation. Prayer released power and rivers of living water began coursing through these purified channels into Jerusalem, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth.
Such manifest power drew down upon them fierce persecution, but even prison cells could not restrain their songs of praise. Pentecost had changed them from carnal into spiritual Christians. Has it so changed you?
"In him a well" (John 4:14). The Holy Spirit, a well of Living Water, a continuously upspringing fountain, is in every Christian. There is then no need of dearth. The promise is you "shall never thirst." The Spirit-filled life is one of satisfaction and sufficiency.
"Out of him rivers" (John 7:38). Satisfaction in Christ means the overflow of Christ. If there is a divine inflow, there is always a divine outflow.
Is such a life yours? If not, do you desire it? It is for you if you truly thirst. "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink" (John 7:37). Drink until you are satisfied, until you are full, yes, until you overflow. The fullness of the Holy Spirit is for every one who thirsts and who drinks of the Water of Life.
Taken from Rivers of Living Water by Ruth Paxson.