In gatherings, I often heard the pastor preached, “it’s said in the Bible, ‘But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit with. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will’ (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). We should pursue to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is spiritual gift. Only those who are filled with Holy Spirit have spiritual life. Once we have a gift of speaking in tongues, our spiritual life will progress. If we only pray with our minds, but don’t improve our spirituality level, entering into the kingdom of heaven is still up in the air when the Lord comes.”
Every time hearing that, I felt it’s very important to be filled with the Holy Spirit and actively pursue kinds of gifts. However, no matter how I try to pray, I can’t get spiritual gifts. I felt depressed. Every time, I heard other believers pray in tongues after gatherings. I envied them: Why can’t I? Why don’t I have any gifts? In one gathering, after hearing the preacher’s experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit, I was a bit down in the dumps: These years, I have never been filled with the Holy Spirit. Without spiritual life, how can I enter into the kingdom of heaven? I felt upset for this.
After a long time, I noticed that, more and more believers have got the gift of speaking in tongues, but less ones focused on reading Bible and practicing the Lord’s words. Moreover, some of them often resent others, tell lies, lust for money, and struggle for position. They are purely men of the world and can’t be able to testify of the Lord. I suspected that being filled with the Holy Spirit and having the spiritual gifts are gaining the spiritual life. Does this kind of pursuit truly accord with the Lord’s will? Especially, when the pastor laid his hands upon man to pray for man, some of them cried, some giggled, some fell to the ground, and some couldn’t stop speaking in tongues. On seeing that, I felt more confused. To make it clear, I asked the spiritual figures one after another. Some answered me: being filled with the Holy Spirit and having spiritual gifts are indeed having spiritual life, so I can rest easy and boldly pursue. Some doubted: this kind of pursuit doesn’t accord with the Lord’s will. After discussion, I didn’t get the answer, more perplexed. This problem directly relates to whether or not we can gain the approval of God, even relates to whether we can enter into the kingdom of heaven. If not clear, we’ll embark on the wrong path in our belief in God and lose our chance for salvation. Hence, I made up my mind to make it clear.
Thanks be to the Lord for God’s grace. After constant seeking, I finally have a little understanding of whether being filled with the Holy Spirit represents having life.
Being Filled With the Holy Spirit Doesn’t Mean Gaining Life
In the church, the pastor and most believers agree that having spiritual gifts means gaining the life. For example, those who can speak in tongues or interpret the tongues have life.
To know whether it’s right or wrong, we have to understand what is the true life. The Lord Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). “the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Only Christ can express the truth, redeem mankind, and save mankind. Because Christ is God become flesh, He is God’s Spirit realized in the flesh. That is, all that God possesses, including what God has and is, God’s disposition, and the wisdom of God are all realized in His flesh. Christ has the substance of divinity, and is the embodiment of the truth. Only following Christ, can we gain the truth and life. When we gain truth as our life, we truly possess life. That means experiencing God’s work and word, achieving understanding many truths, gaining true knowledge of God, understanding His will in all things and living based on His words. Those who gain the truth as life can truly obey God, be loyal to Him, love Him and revere Him. What’s more, they can triumph over Satan. No matter how it deceives, tempts, they can see through Satan’s plots, never fall into its trap, and no longer disobey God, resist Him and rebel against Him. With these behaviors, such people are those who have gained life. However, those who have spiritual gifts often long for money, covet the enjoyments of the flesh, and pursue fame and worldly trends. They’re unable to withstand Satan’s deceptions at all, always fall into temptation and can’t extricate themselves. No one can keep God’s commandments and obey His way. How can they say that such people have life?
The Significance of “Being Filled With the Holy Spirit” in the Age of Grace
The Lord Jesus said, “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And it is recorded in Acts, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). From these, we can know that, after the ascension of Jesus, all disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. In one regard, they got more confidence and the ability from Holy Spirit to testify to the Lord and spread the gospel. In another regard, there’s background on that. At that time, many people from other countries couldn’t speak Hebrew. God bestowed the disciples tongues so that they could speak in other tongues to spread the gospel. Nowadays, there’s a substantial difference between many believers’ tongues and disciples’. On the one hand, they speak in so-call “tongues” that are not the languages of other countries or nationalities, and no one can understand. On the other, speaking in tongues today is not for testifying to God’s work and spreading the gospel. Beyond a doubt, “tongues” are not from Holy Spirit.
The Truth Behind “Being Filled With the Holy Spirit”
If “being filled with the Holy Spirit” doesn’t mean having life, and is not from Holy Spirit, then whence does it come?
The Bible says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). From the verses, we can see that all kinds of evil spirits will imitate and fake the work of the Holy Spirit to deceive people by performing simple signs and wonders. Therefore, we should learn to discern the work of the Holy Spirit from the work of evil spirits, or else we will easily treat the work of evil spirits as if it were the work of the Holy Spirit, exploited and deceived by Satan. We should know evil spirits usually work through supernatural things that normal person is incapable of. Moreover, once evil spirits work on man, their sense will become aberrant and disordered. Even they don’t know what they have done. They speak incoherently, and no one can understand what they have said. All the above is the manifestation of the work of the evil spirit. While the work of the Lord Jesus has spread all over the world, the Holy Spirit doesn’t work in a supernatural way. Now that the Holy Spirit ceases to work, the evil spirits take the opportunity to deceive people.
The Bible says, “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran on him with one accord, …And they stoned Stephen, calling on God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:55-59). From this passage, it clears tell us: Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit and got more confidence. He didn’t afraid to face the persecution of Jews. Instead, he could obey God’s orchestration and arrangement, giving his spirit to God. In the effects of the Holy Spirit’s work in people, the pursuit brought by the work of the Holy Spirit is positive. The Holy Spirit bestows people courage, confidence and resolution so that they can be motivated to pursue the truth, long for the light and justice, and obey the Lord. They will not have been under the control of any person, occurrence, or thing to testify to the Lord’s name. Despite persecution and tribulation, they still want to pursue to love God and even sacrifice their lives to stand witness to God. Those who have enjoyed the work of the Holy Spirit treasure God’s words and pursue the truth. Because they understand God’s will, they have greater and greater faith, and actively cooperate with God, even able to abandon everything to expend themselves for Him. What’s more, they have love for others. When brothers and sisters run into difficulty, they can help others with love. These are the effects of the Holy Spirit’s work in people. While, “being filled with the Holy Spirit” nowadays, there are no such positive effects in speaking in tongues.
Finally, I realize that I was confused in my pursuit in the past. I couldn’t clearly distinguish what is gaining the life, what’s the work of the Holy Spirit, and what is the work of evil spirits, blindly pursuing to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I truly was in peril! Enlightened by God, I got a fix on what is truly gaining the life, what is the manifestations of the work of the Holy Spirit, and see clearly the work of the evil spirits. And I find out the right way to believe in God: To gain the work of the Holy Spirit, I should believe in God according to His words and His will, and have His words as my life instead of pursuing the vague and unreal things.
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