5.31.2018 - Holy Spirit Night - Pastor Brian Connolly
The culmination of our 12-week Restoration U experience was last Thursday, on the final day of May. This also marks our i61 stopping point until early September, when we resume with our regular 6:30 PM Thursday meetings. Thursday did not disappoint, as the presence of God fell and stuck around for many people that came for an encounter, a filling up, a refresher, or even a prophetic word. God was there, and, as Pastor Brian often says, He was to people what they needed Him to be.
It's not Automatic - Ask/Wait
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” LUKE 11:11-13
One of the main theological mistakes that churches, congregations, denominations, and individuals make is that the Holy Spirit is "automatic" upon being born again, or saying "yes" to Jesus. Even worse, some hold that this baptism is not even relevant for today or it's non-existent altogether. In laying out the biblical defense of the baptism in the Spirit, Brian detailed this costly error that has bound the modern American church. This very paragraph is sandwiched by two red-letter sections of scripture that (both from Luke) prove this idea wrong in a purely chronological sense. In Luke 11, Jesus says to ask for the Holy Spirit, which implies that "it" is something He gives, and "it" is something that's distinct and separate (note that He is talking to His disciples, who have already made the choice to follow Him). In Luke 24 he charges those same disciples to stay in the city until they've been clothed with power from on high, or, in other words, baptized in the Spirit. So there's definitely an 'asking' and a 'waiting' element to receiving this baptism, which makes it very difficult, scripturally, to be "automatic" upon being a Christian or becoming born again. You can pick up what happened next for these men, who asked and waited, in Acts chapter 2.
"I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." LUKE 24:49
Baptizing with the Holy Spirit...and Fire
In the verse below, which Brian pointed out in this week's Propheticast, it's very interesting if we dissect it slowly and carefully. The one who came after John was Jesus, for the record, and He will baptize you [us] with the Holy Spirit... and (in addition to) fire. This is pretty fascinating, and it's also easy to miss if we have a habit of coasting through the Bible without stopping to find meaning or allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate things. The other thing that strikes me about this statement is that the two things - (Holy Spirit(1) and Fire(2) - are successive. In other words, the fire follows the Holy Spirit. I can't say with certainty that it must be this way, but I can tell you that they work in tandem and that in this instance the Holy Spirit is first, as this verse makes clear. Below are three characteristics of fire that I found after examining scripture, that I believe relate to this verse contextually.
PRESENCE - Exodus 3:2 - Exodus 19:18 - Exodus 12:21 - Numbers 14:14
PURIFICATION - Isaiah 1:25 & 6:6-7 - Isaiah 43:2 - Jeremiah 6:29 - 1 Peter 4:12
REFINEMENT - Numbers 31:22-23 - Malachi3:2-3
The first (presence) has to do with an awe, fear, & reverence of the Lord. In the Exodus verses, along with fire being present, things are trembling and shaking in God's presence. Purification has to do with burning out iniquities to make room for holiness and righteousness. The verses on purification also imply that those who experience this purifying blaze will not be physically harmed, as they would with physical fire. Finally, refinement has to do with the process of being developed or tempered, like how metal is formed and perfected with fire.
"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." MATTHEW 3:11 NIV
A Purifying Presence
One characteristic of last Thursday was the cleansing flame that several had sensed in the room. This purifying fire was literally cleaning house for a lot of people. The night was leaning toward these types of revelations: repentance, freedom from sin, righteousness, & holiness, more so than people being baptized in the Spirit for the first time. This turn came after a bit of delay. What I mean by that is, in contrast to other similar nights, Brian had to press harder and longer before we saw manifestations and people were touched. Of course, we don't know exactly what was happening in people's hearts, but persistence was needed to a degree, and that's OK.
Thursday was a beautiful ending to a wonderful series where we know people were touched, filled, freed, encouraged, and refreshed. Remember that Isaiah 61 will break for three months and return to its regular, weekly meetings on September 6th. Thank you guys for attending, reading, listening, for being hungry, and for pressing in. Bless you and we hope to see you soon!
-JF D'Orsie - Communications Director - PCC