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As we approach the end of our End Times Series, I’d like to look at our need for something more to be able to survive and thrive in these troublous times.
When the Jewish priests and Levites approached John the Baptist as he went around baptizing and preaching repentance because the Kingdom of Heaven was shortly to take place, they asked, “Who are you, and by what authority are you doing these things?”
John replied, “I’m not who you think I am. I’m not the Messiah, nor am I Elijah or that prophet (specking of Moses). Instead, I’m the one Isaiah spoke about, a voice crying in the wilderness saying, “Make straight the way of the Lord.”
And to their question as to why he was baptizing unto repentance, he said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11 NKJV)
The Apostle John, in his gospel account speaks of this same encounter, but he states that in Jesus we have not only received His fullness, but additional grace as one blessing after another.
“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” (John 1:16 NKJV)
This is what those who come into the saving knowledge and faith of Jesus Christ can expect. This is what those who become born again can expect and receive, that is, all the fullness of Jesus Christ Himself.
But even more than that, we’ve been given a special measure of grace, that is, grace stacked upon grace. What this means is that a person can expect to receive this fullness on an ever-increasing degree.
The word fullness means that which fills completely, that is, the sum total that’s possible. In the context of our passage it means the sum total of all that is in God that resides in Jesus. Think about that.
The Apostle Paul said, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:9-10 NKJV)
Of this fullness we receive grace upon grace, that is, an over abundance will be ours. Jesus said that out of the heart of every believer flow rivers of living waters. (We looked at this river this past Sunday in our message entitled, “God’s River of Life.”)
Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38 NKJV)
But then John added, “By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” (John 7:39a NKJV)
And so this over abundance, this promise of a river of living water that flows from a believer’s life, is the Holy Sprit. But the fullness, that which fills completely and over the top is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the subsequent fillings thereafter.
You see, we need this something more in our lives, not only to survive and thrive, but if we’re ever going to make an impact upon this present generation.
Further, if God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, then let me make this observation, that if we’re not receiving what He has made possible, then we may very well be insulting Him in the process. And in so doing we’re becoming content with far less than what God intended.
What Restricts the Fullness?
We have to believe God’s promises, and that His promises are available for us today as they were for those when it was written.
But it was because of the people’s unbelief that they were prohibited from entering into the Promised Land (Hebrews 3:14-19). And it was the people’s unbelief in Nazareth that kept Jesus from doing many mighty works (Matthew 13:58).
Paul said that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). And we are also told in Hebrews 11:6 that without faith it’s impossible to please God.
And so, when we doubt God’s word, especially when it comes to the promises of the Holy Spirit, we’ll miss out on God’s fullness for our lives.
2. Experiences Trumping Scripture
One of the greatest dangers of missing all that God has for us, all the fullness in an ever-increasing measure is the danger of understanding the Scriptures based upon our experiences. This is a real danger, because we should be basing our experiences in light of the Scriptures.
And the danger is that when we interpret the Scriptures in light of our experiences that is usually when we begin to claim things that either go beyond the Scriptures, or contrary to them.
Holding onto traditions is another way we restrict the fullness, because we start placing tradition above that of Scripture.
What’s happened is that tradition has taken the place of the Scriptures. We see this in statements like, “This is how we’ve always done it.” What’s dangerous about this is that we start putting the Holy Spirit in a box saying that this is the only way God can work. And so we miss out on the fullness because we limit the Holy Spirit to our ways and thinking.
Denominational distinctives, like how we are to worship God, restricts the flow of the Holy Spirit. What the Bible says we’re to do is to praise God, whether it’s with our voice, instruments, or even in the dance.
When we teach, or what we say we believed collides with the Scripture, we are to take the Scripture over the teaching. And that’s all doctrine is anyway; it means teaching.
What Brings the Fullness?
Look at what happened when Solomon brought the Ark into the temple. It says that they consecrated themselves, that is, they set themselves apart for the work of the Lord, and it says they all worshipped God in unison, that is, with one voice saying, “God is good; and His love endures forever.”
Now look at what happened. “Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.” (2 Chronicles 5:13b-14 NIV)
God poured out His fullness, which is what happened at they very beginning of the church. Jesus told them that the most important thing they could do now that He was leaving and ascending into heaven, was to wait for God’s promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
“They were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:1-4 NKJV)
When we come together unified seeking after God, seeking after the fullness of the Holy Spirit in our lives, that is when the glory of God descends.
2. Baptism of the Holy Spirit
I really can’t emphasize this enough, and that’s because of Jesus’s and the Bible’s emphasis on its importance. If the filling of the Holy Spirit at the time of belief is all that is needed, then Jesus didn’t have to say for them to wait.
And it wasn’t a suggestion, but a commandment.
“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father … ‘For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” (Acts 1:4-5 NKJV)
Jesus was saying that there was something more awaiting believers, and that something more is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
This is the river of living water that flows freely from the life of a believer (John 7:38-39).
This is the something more that allows believers to experience a greater portion of the fullness of Christ, to receive as John said, “grace upon grace.”
This is the something more that every believer can expect and receive. Every believer in Jesus Christ not only receives the fullness, but also continues receiving it to an ever-increasing degree through continuing to be filled.
And while John baptized with water for repentance, Jesus’s baptism was going to be something far greater. He was going to baptize with the Holy Sprit as an ever-increasing measure of the fullness promised to all who come to faith in Him.
And it is in this filling with the Holy Spirit, this something more that we can not only survive and thrive through these tough and difficult times, but we can also make a difference in this world for Christ.
So we can expect something more and even greater.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study