By Evan Burns
Evan is a message bearer and currently lives among the unreached.
As Moody was getting into the carriage to hurry to another service, he was touched on the shoulder by an unknown, frail, old man. With his finger pointing at D.L. Moody, he said,
“Young man, when you speak again, honor the Holy Ghost.”
…. Later in his ministry, Mr. Moody would say to his successor R.A. Torrey before he would leave for his evangelistic campaigns,
“Torrey, don’t forget to honor the Holy Ghost. Tell them about the Holy Ghost.”
Moody, arguably the most renowned evangelist at the turn of the century, was challenged by two ladies in Chicago. At the close of each evangelistic meeting, they told him that they were praying for him.
To this Moody replied one time, “Why don’t you pray for the people?” They said, “You need the power.” This set Moody thinking. He resolved in his heart to urgently plead for God to fill him with His Spirit. One day, while walking down Wall Street in New York, Moody recalled,
“Oh, what a day!—I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted.”
The sermons were not different, but the servant was. The truths were not new, but now they were potent and penetrating. Few were converted before, but now converts came by the hundreds.
Before, it had been the driven energy and determination of the man, but now it was the dynamic of the Holy Spirit.
Biblically and historically, whenever there is a true outpouring of God’s Spirit upon His people, it is always followed by four signs: passion for Jesus Christ, power in prayer, boldness in witness, and joy in peril.
But before there is a filling of the Spirit, there must be an emptying of self. This includes repentance, confession of sin to another, a surrendered heart, and lifestyle obedience.
Repentance is the first word of the gospel, not love or even grace. It is, “repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” John the Baptist said, “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” Fruit-bearing is the evidence of salvation.
The fruit of the Spirit is the natural produce of a branch fully connected to the Vine. Christ-like character proves we are truly indwelt with the Spirit of Christ. This divine character is not developed easily—it is wrought through the Refiner’s fire.
We must be actively confessing sin to one another, obeying and surrendering to God’s will even at the cost of humiliation and reputation. This is the quality of a vessel required for the overflow of the Spirit.
A surrendered heart is one where God is exalted to His rightful place—as King. Humility simply says, as Louie Giglio aptly puts it,
“You are I AM, and I am not.” A surrendered heart says with Job, “Though He slay me, still I will hope in Him.”
God dwells on a high and lofty place and also with the one who is broken and contrite of heart, who trembles at His word. This is the prerequisite for a life overflowing with God. Emptiness always precedes fullness.
The filling of the Spirit is a simple concept, much more so than what our traditions make it out to be. The Holy Spirit is God. He (notice the personal pronoun, not “it”) is called the Spirit of Christ. To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with God, to be filled with Jesus, who already indwells us.
We see in Acts (which is more accurately named, “Acts of the Spirit”) that when God’s people were filled with the Spirit, their filling was directly connected with their perseverance in prayer and their passion for the glory of Christ.
When the Spirit came upon them, He compelled them to proclaim the gospel with supernatural boldness, often in the face of certain death or suffering. And the evidence of the Spirit also enabled them to have abundant joy in the grip of persecution.
After three years of being apprenticed under Jesus, the disciples would be the premier candidates for any ministry position today. Nevertheless, this education and training was insufficient according to Christ.
Before He left, He specifically instructed them to wait for the filling of the Holy Spirit, and today more than ever we need this fullness of the Spirit. Then when the Spirit would fall, they were to be witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the remotest parts of the earth. So, what did they do? They waited and prayed with fervent persistence.
The church was birthed in a prayer meeting. It was continually saturated with the Spirit, and with blood-earnestness, as it sought to proclaim Christ, no matter the cost. And still today, this legacy is ours to inherit.
God’s people are filled with the fullness of God when they seek with all their hearts to know Christ and to make Him known, at whatever cost. This life of fullness has been called the exchanged life. It is a life set apart, even from its fellow church-goers.
Very few believers discover this tremendous secret. The exchanged life is sold out, poured out, crucified, and magnified. It is the jealous fire of God burning within.
“O, that God would make us dangerous.”