Laying Foundations for a "Spirit-filled" Church

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In this series, Ian Ashby will be writing about how leaders can lay a foundation for a "Spirit-filled" church.

Leaders must themselves be theologically convinced about the baptism of the Spirit.

You won't be able to convince others and impart faith to receive unless you are theologically convinced and theologically clear yourself. Why it is essential for the church? Who is it for? How does it happen?

So, for myself, I am convinced, primarily from reading the book of Acts, though not exclusively, that:

  1. Jesus wants to baptize all believers in the Holy Spirit
  2. It is possible to be a believer who is "born of the Spirit" and not be "filled with the Spirit"
  3. Being filled with the Spirit is experiential
  4. Being filled is to be an ongoing experience
  5. The purpose is primarily power for service
  6. Being filled is often accompanied by an audible overflow of a new language, prophecy, or praise.

Leaders should preach and teach about being filled with the Spirit on a regular basis.

I try and preach a message on this at least once or twice a year, as well as referring to our need of being filled whenever appropriate. Other contexts are also helpful, for example some churches have 'Holy Spirit days' or special follow up meetings to instruct and pray for all those who have responded to a message on the subject. Discipleship or membership classes might also include teaching with opportunities to pray for people to be filled with the Spirit.

Preachers should make it part of the gospel message.

In Acts 2, when Peter was asked, "What must we do to be saved?" He replied “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ...and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you..."

It's God's promise. We shouldn't separate this out from repentance and water baptism, it's part of the conversion package. If we include this promise in our gospel presentation then it will create an expectation to receive right at conversion.

Leaders should make it their responsibility.

Three times in the Book of Acts, the Spirit came sovereignly upon groups of people, but in three other accounts people received the Spirit when someone laid hands on them and prayed. In Acts 8, when Peter and John went to Samaria to see the work of salvation that God had begun there through Philip, they recognized that the baptized believers had not yet received the Spirit as they had, and so took care to rectify the situation! In the same way, as leaders, I believe it's our responsibility to help people be filled with the Spirit. It is foundational for living the Christian life, it is foundational to having Spirit-filled churches.

In my next post, I will give some practical advice and tips on helping people to receive the Holy Spirit.

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Confluence is a place where the reformed, the charismatic, and the mission-minded converge to equip and serve the church to transform communities. Our authors are mostly leaders in the Newfrontiers family of churches.