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Finding again the fire of the Holy Spirit

Examining CH Spurgeon's words on the Holy Spirit, Don Attenborough explores how it is vitally important that we obtain, by request and confession of sin, both the regeneration work and the empowering of the Holy Spirit

CH Spurgeon, the well-known Victorian Baptist minister, wrote, “We need a work of the Holy Spirit of a supernatural kind, putting power into the preaching of the Word, inspiring all believers with heavenly energy, and solemnly affecting the hearts of the careless, so that they turn to God and live.

Holy Spirt300"We would not be drunk with the wine of carnal excitement, but we would be filled with the Spirit. We would behold the fire descending from heaven in answer to the effectual fervent prayers of righteous men. Can we not entreat the Lord our God to make bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the people in this day of declension and vanity?”

Although there are some mighty works of God going on within various Christian groups at this present time in the UK, many of us still remain deeply concerned about the general spiritual decline and ineffectiveness of the Church in our country and would agree that what Spurgeon preached and wrote for his generation, is true for ours today.

Spurgeon also wrote in his sermon number 1619: “The first thing we want as a church is to be filled with the Spirit”, and in his sermon number 1790 he asks his readers the question “Are you filled with the Spirit?”

Was Spurgeon suggesting that people were not saved unless they were filled with the Spirit? I do not think so! He knew that we receive the Holy Spirit at our conversion to make us alive spiritually towards God. It would seem to me that Spurgeon is indicating that we may not have received the full extent of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our lives that we were meant to have received at our conversion, leaving us operating in ministry in our own limited strength.

Jesus received the Spirit of God at his water baptism not for conversion, because he was God in flesh and blood and did not need to be regenerated (that is made alive to God). He received the fullness of the Holy Spirit for his ministry in this world, thus showing us, who are his new creation, what we are meant to receive in terms of supernatural enabling for our kingdom service!

It is vitally important that we obtain, by request and confession of sin, both the regeneration work of the Holy Spirit that makes us alive to God, which is described in the bible as being ‘born again’ (John 3:3) and the filling, the empowering of the Holy Spirit for ministry that God intends for us all so we can effectively follow in the footsteps of Jesus in this world. In Ephesians 5:18 we are told to “be filled with the Spirit”, and in the original Greek I understand this infers being filled again and again; it is to be a reoccurring experience.

Was Spurgeon suggesting when he asked the question ‘Are you filled with the Spirit’, that the believers to whom he was speaking had not received the Holy Spirit at their conversion? Of course not. He was saying there is an empowering that we can and must receive for greater affectability in ministry.

Was Spurgeon indicating that Christians should know they are filled with the Spirit by his question in sermon number 1790? It would seem so, because otherwise he was asking a question could not be answered.

Spurgeon wrote, “The notion has sprung up that you cannot tell whether you have the Holy Ghost or not; but you can. Give a man an electric shock, and I warrant you he will know it; but if he has the Holy Ghost he will know it much more. You may sometimes raise the question, ‘Did I ever feel the Holy Ghost in years gone by?’ but you cannot ask the question, ‘Do I feel it now?’ for if you feel it now you have the witness in yourself that the Lord is at work in you…If you do not feel the Holy Ghost at work distinctly and perceptibly even now, then lift up your heart to God for it, and pray that you may now receive him in all his fullness.”

Spurgeon ends his sermon by saying we should ask God for all he is willing to give us. Being filled with the Spirit, baptised in the Spirit, anointed with the Spirit, call it what you may, is an experience we should know and can ever forget. I know from the personal experience I had some ten years after my conversion. When the Holy Spirit enters the life of Christian it is the most wonderful emotional life changing experience any human being can have!

We become fully connected up to the power source that empowered the creation of the world and raised Jesus from the grave. Again Spurgeon writes, “May God send us a season of glorious disorder! Oh for a sweep of wind that will set the seas in motion and make our ironclad brethren now lying so quietly at anchor to roll from stem to stern! As for us, who are as the little ships, we will fly before the gale if it will but speed us to our desired haven! Oh for fire to fall again—fire which shall affect the most stolid!

"This is a sure remedy for indifference. When a flake of fire falls into a man’s bosom, he knows it. And when the Word of God comes home to a man’s soul, he knows it, too. Oh that such fire might first sit upon the disciples and then fall on all around!”

To that prayer I want to add a loud ‘AMEN!’

Lord Jesus, I repent of all my sin and ask that I might know the tangible assurance of your love and sins forgiven again.
Fill me afresh with the supernatural fire of the Holy Spirit that I might be freshly motivated and empowered in my service for you!
Send the fire of your Spirit in a powerful way upon the church in our nation in our day! Amen!’

Don Attenborough is a retired Baptist minister  

Picture: Temple of the Holy Spirit with the Seven Gifts of Grace/Franz Georg Hermann/Wikimedia Commons
Baptist Times, 29/09/2014
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