I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but there was a huge shift in my theology and relationship with the Father and Jesus when I came to understand the full personality and ministry of the Holy Spirit. It wasn't that I didn't believe in the Holy Spirit, it was just that in my 30+ years as a Christian I had been given no guidance for a personal knowledge or experience of Him as His own separate and equal Being. It had always been presented to me that He was an extension of Jesus; a substitute or understudy, so to speak. But as I began receiving revelation from the Word, I could see and intuit that He was God Himself, just as Jesus was. And with that knowledge came the desire to know Him and experience Him, as the Bible tells me I can.
But here's the thing... as that began to happen, I also began to see a distancing or separation from some of my fellow Christians. I was told that the kind of experiences I was looking for weren't possible for today's Believers; that the power and fire that rained down on the First Century Believers was only to jump-start the Church; that the closing of the Canon has left us with centuries of faith in the saving grace of Jesus, so we don't need those manifestations. But is that really the case?
Here is what seems so evident to me: God birthed the Church at Pentecost and poured out His Holy Spirit upon it. He baptized it in the Holy Spirit, filled it with the Spirit, and anointed it with the Spirit. In case you need Biblical confirmation of this, here it is: Just before Jesus ascends into Heaven, he gives His disciples (who would start His Church) the following instructions ... "Don't leave Jerusalem... in a few days you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:4-5)". He also told them, "But I promise you this -- the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power" (Acts 1:8). Then in Acts 2:4, Paul tells us "They were all filled and equipped with the Holy Spirit and were inspired to speak in tongues -- empowered by the Spirit to speak in languages they had never learned!". The Modern Church will tell you that Jesus is only proclaiming these promises for those twelve men.
I would also suggest that the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit is not a one-time occurrence -- whether in a person or the Body of Christ. It is something that is meant to last and grow. "Revivals" are great for stirring the souls and spirits of people to seek that encounter with the Holy Spirit, but our experiences are not to be temporary events. The out-pouring of the Holy Spirit is to be continuously and increasingly evident.
But how many Christians today believe this? Why is the experience of the First Century disciples not the goal of us Twenty-First Century disciples? Why is it so easy for Believers today to dismiss the importance of experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives? If we can embrace the idea that these fleshly bodies are now the Temple where Jesus resides, why can we not believe Paul when he tells us in Ephesians 2:22, "This means that God is transforming each one of you into the Holy of Holies, His dwelling place, through the power of the Holy Spirit living in you!" Paul is not speaking to the twelve disciples here. He is speaking to believers in Christ. Furthermore, he is teaching that there should be a transformation in our lives through the power of the Spirit living in us. That means the power is active, not passive!! There should be evidence of His presence in our lives!
At times, I fear we are not too far removed from the Christian heresy of the 4th Century called the Pneumatomachian heresy. Those who believed in this false teaching denied the full divinity of the Holy Spirit and taught that He was a created being, subject to the Father and the Son. In fact,
Pneumatomachians were called “opponents of the Spirit” or “Spirit fighters.” Sadly, today there are Churches that feel dry, dead, and empty of the Spirit; as if He has left the building. Speaking in tongues, healing, or prophesying and revelation, which were all evidences of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Early Church, are denied and even denounced as false Christianity.
What makes more sense to me is that as the teaching of the power of the Holy Spirit in us (which Paul clearly confirms) is removed from the Church, the Spirit departs from where He is not wanted. You see, when the Holy Spirit is welcomed and present in the Body of Christ, there is a peace and righteousness in God's House -- both in the church building and in the individual believer. He cleanses the Temple of the Lord; convicting us of our sin and empowering us to walk in the same power and effectiveness that Jesus had when He was anointed of the Holy Spirit; giving each of us our calling/ministry to continue Jesus's work.
When the Body of Christ attempts to limit the supernatural empowerment of the Holy Spirit, the effects upon the Church are real -- Divine revelation and illumination of Scripture is replaced with [and limited to] denominational doctrine; we seek other teachers instead of receiving heavenly insight from the Holy Spirit. In addition, our prayer life becomes centered in our flesh instead of flowing out of the anointing and power of the Spirit. We must ask ourselves if we are yielding to the Spirit and inspired by Him when we pray, or if our prayers emanate from our minds and soul.
I can only speak for myself, but I don't want to be an empty vessel. I want to be filled up to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. I want to experience manifestations of His Presence and I won't limit displays of His power in me as I surrender to God's calling on my life. I will seek and ask for the fullness of the Spirit in my ministry and in the gifts He bestows upon me. I will be subject to the Spirit's teachings and His wisdom. And above all else, I will testify that Jesus is the Lord of my life, having been empowered to speak of His saving power through the leading of the Holy Spirit. I praise God for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and I welcome Him as the means of God's gifts, signs, wonders, miracles and revelation in my life and this Age. Holy Spirit, You are welcome here!
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power [of the Holy Spirit] at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.