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  • Writer's pictureLou Hernández

EMPOWERED TO LIVE ALL IN - THE HOLY SPIRIT - Acts 2:1-8; Eph 5:15-21- June 04, 2023

Updated: Jul 15, 2023



This morning we are continuing our series, Living All in considering how we are to be Empowered to Live All In – through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Let’s begin by looking at Acts 2. Acts 2:1-8

It’s Pentecost - 50 days after Passover, fittingly, the Feast of Harvest or Firstfruits – the Feast to give thanks for the firstfruits of the harvest God provided Ex 23:16 But as would soon be discovered, a time when God would send His Spirit, the firstfruits of a greater harvest to come. God doing something new, sending His Spirit to indwell everyone who called on the name of the Lord. What Moses wished for, what Joel predicted, what Peter explained, was now available to every believer. So that’s the event for them – but our question needs to be what is that to mean for us today?

Sadly, teaching about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit too often divides Christians - the very gift given to unify and empower is the same gift the church has often allowed to weaken and divide. A divide directly opposed to Christ’s prayer ‘that we may all be one – just as He is one’. Jn 17:21,22

The tragedy is that disagreements about some manifestations of the Spirit’s work have kept us from fully embracing what the Spirit longs to give – namely God’s power – for us to live as His disciples. And instead? - polarization that places us either in the: “We’ve got it!” camp OR the “You can have it!” camp - both places that are wrong.

This morning I make no attempt to address all the issues around the ministry of the Holy Spirit. If I had a month of Sundays, I’d be inadequate for the task. At the outset, let’s be clear, there can be justifiable differences how some people understand certain passages; and muddying the water - some very questionable theology and practices that rightly cause concern. That said, we dare not allow the abuse and manipulation to keep us from the power God promises in His gift of Holy Spirit.

To that end, we need to stop fighting about the Holy Spirit, arguing about the things that are uncertain and start living in the power of what we know to be true. So let’s take a look.

Acts 2:1-4 four things happened in this order:


As Jesus points out to Nicodemus, The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. Jn 3: 8.

Wind by its nature is invisible and unpredictable. The wind that blows from the north today, may blow from the south tomorrow. It blows in different ways and for different purposes. It uproots trees and provides relief from overwhelming heat. It fans embers into flame and positions rain clouds over parched ground. In other words, the Spirit comes in the manner God uses to fulfill His purposes: uniquely, creatively, powerfully. If you reference every Biblical passage about being filled with the Spirit and baptized with the Spirit, you will find that sometimes the Spirit gives wisdom, sometimes skill, sometimes revelation and sometimes supernatural languages and manifestations. But always the Spirit gives enablement, frequently referenced as boldness, to accomplish God’s purpose.

Acts 2:2 uses 2 words, wind and Spirit for pneuma. Here the word is used in 2 different ways. That God chose to introduce His Holy Spirit by a violent wind is significant because wind usually brings with it something new – a new storm, a new raincloud, a new breeze, or a new gust that tears away and removes dead foliage. So it is, that the Holy Spirit wants to do a new and fresh work by blowing through each one of us today. We need the wind of the Spirit to blow through our hearts:


Fear with Faith

Anger with Love

Weakness to strength Doubt with Hope

Bitterness with Forgiveness Judgment with Grace

Pride with Humility

Blowing, sometimes violently, to tear away the old, the decaying and the dead parts of our life, as He prepares us for the life He wants to root us in. When needed, it’s a violent wind - sometimes buffeting, sometimes overturning, often unpredictable but always doing what is needed to cause us to let go of that which is decayed so new life can come.

Its violence also telling us that He will do what’s needed to establish His authority in our lives. That may mean dismantling securities we’ve held onto or prying our grip loose from predictable, long cherished beliefs. Shaking away that which is dead, removing things that keep us from knowing and fully trusting God. Not necessarily things that are wrong but things we’ve let in to come that block the flow of life. Not just for those far off from God but also those who are now walking with God. Those who may need a new and fresh understanding or a new and fresh encounter with God.

Like those gathered in the upper room. They were godly, pursuing God; obeying God; doing the right things for God. And God came in with His mighty wind and blew their orderly world apart. It was the breath of life that God blew into Adam to give him life and it is God’s Spirit wind that He wants to blow into us to transform us so we take on the character of Christ. But it is a wind we must be willing to let enter and fill our lives. Asking then allowing God to do His work in us.

Now before we move past this image of the Spirit as “a violent wind”, it’s imperative that we don’t form our doctrine of the Holy Spirit simply around manifestations of His presence. While in Acts 2 ‘wind’ and fire’ are associated with the Spirit, they are merely evidences of something greater.

Chalk marks if you like - God’s fulfillment of His promise He would send another Comforter. Let me illustrate in a way I’ve done before - chalk marks are representations of something greater. The marks made are fully chalk but they aren’t the full chalk. Chalk? – yes but the totality of the chalk? – no. Yet when only viewed as ‘marks’, they misrepresent the far greater.

So too, this is where manifestations of ‘wind & tongues of fire’ fall short in understanding the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not wind. He is not fire. He is not a dove, nor is He a liquid needing to be topped up. He isn’t tongues or wisdom or some prophetic word. Those are just representations – of a ‘person’ of the Godhead who is so much greater, a person in the same way as Jesus and as God is revealed with human characteristics like Father and friend describing God’s relationship with us. When Jesus told the disciples He would send another counselor, He uses the word allos which is to say, He is sending another of the same kind as Him. Scripture tell us the Holy Spirit can be lied to Acts 5:3, grieved Eph 4:30, insulted and outraged Heb 10:29. That said, in some mysterious way, He, the Holy Spirit, is the Spirit of truth who indwells us, empowering God’s Word to become alive in us Eph 3:16, Jn 16:13. In 1 Jn 2:1 we are told, He is our paracleo who, (para stands alongside, caleo called) as our advocate - representing us, defending us, making a case for us and testifying we are His Rom 8:15,16.


I have no idea what those gathered in the upper room thought as the wind of God blew in on them. Some probably acting like human sand bags, barricading doors and fortifying windows, others just hanging on, trying to stand upright. Perhaps others, scrambling to safeguard Scriptures from being damaged by the wind. Whatever they thought, once tongues of fire appeared, none of them doubted they were in the presence of the Holy. The wind was just preparation for His holiness.

Fire is often synonymous with God’s presence. There was God’s pillar of fire by night as the Israelites were guided through the wilderness. There was God’s holy ground appearance as Moses stood before a burning bush that wasn’t consumed. There was the fire of God’s protection when He stood with 3 untouched, unharmed servants in a blazing furnace. Fire that assured of God’s presence and power. Fire of God’s holiness that destroys sin yet redeems sinners. And now that fire had come to rest upon and dwell within His people.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for. Is 6:3-7 .

And in that upper room, an overwhelming sense of God’s power and presence that changed hearts and transformed lives, not for the moment but God in our “now” – making lives different in what comes. Did that mean from then on they would always live on a spiritual high; immune to the nitty gritty of life or free from failure and pain? Nope! It meant living all in for God even in those times when life feels all out - out of joint, out of faithfulness, out of hope. How?

In those times - the power and presence of God’s Spirit – inviting; convicting; disciplining - never imposing, never forcing. Instead, waiting for us to believe and take hold of what He promises.

Ill: This camera’s memory card is an amazing piece of technology - on this little piece of plastic, a zillion hours of movies and pictures. So, impressed with how amazing this is - we take this card and put it on ‘mantle display’ for all to see. But its value is not in how it appears, its value is in what it contains. It strikes me that we often treat the Holy Spirit in that way.

Neatly labelled, it gets placed on our spiritual mantles – present yet unused for the purpose it was designed. Our understanding gets reduced to – ‘I speak in tongues’. ‘I don’t speak in tongues’. ‘I’m charismatic’. ‘I’m not charismatic’. I wonder, do we do the same thing? Neatly labelled. And then put away? Or do we open ourselves up to what God wants to do in us?

The account is told of two women in D L. Moody's congregation who felt an unusual burden to pray, "that the Lord would give Moody the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire. Moody was irritated as he saw them praying in the front row of his church but soon he gave in and began to pray with them every Fri afternoon. He felt like his ministry was becoming sounding brass with little power. In Nov, Moody's church was destroyed in the great Chicago fire, so he went to New York seeking financial help. Day and night he walked the streets desperate for a touch of God's power in his life. Then suddenly, one day, in the city of New York — Oh, what a day!—I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name . . . I can only say that God revealed himself to me, and I had such an experience of his love that I had to ask him to stay his hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world—it would be small dust in the balance. Moody Life of DL Moody.


Okay – let’s back up: when we come to faith in Christ, we are immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He comes into our life and makes us new. We are told that He is the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. There is no such thing as a Christian who does not have the Holy Spirit. But the Spirit doesn’t come just to help carry us through life. He’s not our personal First Responder when life turns tough. No, His purpose is to continually transform us into the image of Christ. As Paul tells us, We … looking in a mirror at the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Cor 3:18

His desire is to make us more like Christ so we live for the glory of God. To be clear, the Holy Spirit didn’t come to make us happier, to enhance our lives or to make our marriages better. It’s true, as Christ’s life is reflected in us, these things will happen, but they are not the primary ministry of the Spirit. Nor did He come to give us ecstatic experiences. The foremost ministry of the Holy Spirit is to make Christ great. Jesus said of the Spirit, He will not speak on His own authority but He will glorify Me make gloriously great Jn 16:13 -15. And in that process, He comes into our lifeless places, our darkest places to bring the power of His life as we are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Paul pictures this in Eph 5:18, Don’t be drunk with wine which is debauchery but be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Talk about a contrast - on one side, drunkenness – uninhibited, unrestrained; loose tongue, looser limbs. In its worse forms – abusive and violent. And on the other side - a life filled and empowered with the Holy Spirit. His question of us – what fills and controls our life?

In Greek, be filled is an imperative, a command in the same way police officers are commanded to put on riot gear before stepping into a violent demonstration or bobsled racers are commanded to helmet up before descending a mountain. If we want to be equipped for what awaits in life – as we parent, as we do the workplace, as we do the relational, Paul is saying, be filled with the Spirit. Not so we do church well but so, with God’s power, we do life well. Filled not for life’s grand event but filled for life’s day by day events. But be filled does require action on our part. That we must ask, that we must yield and center our lives on Jesus, living in the conscious presence that He is Lord.

This command is in the present tense having the idea of continuous, keep being filled action. That tells me being filled with the Holy Spirit is a not a 1 time, I’ve got it experience, nor is it being resourced for a battle we come home from, strip off our protection and wait until we get called up for the next fight. No, the battle the Bible tells us we’re in, doesn’t have work hours or an enemy that books time off.

Several years ago I saw a video of a lady who was in a drive through Wildlife park who ignored signs to, Remain in your car at all times. Instead she chose what she thought was an opportune time to stop and exit her car and in the milliseconds she stood at an open door, a tiger pounced, dragging her to her death. She, ignoring warnings similar to what Peter speaks to, Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Pet 5:8 Scripture want us to understand that continually being filled with the Spirit protects us as it empowers. In Eph 5:15-20 Paul describes the world in which we live and the way we are to live in it.


There was a time I might have needed to convince you of this ‘days are evil’ statement. Now none can deny the evidence, be it: predatory deception, identity theft, corporate fraud, drug trafficking, human trafficking, weapon trafficking – whatever trafficking, Scripture is right, “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Jer 17:9 Evil age destroyers: the co-worker that seduces, the repartee that erodes, the compromise that weakens, the images that disarm. Stalking as they seek authority and control of our lives.


God’s Spirit - not to create good people with good lives but creating God’s people who live in His truth. When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come Jn 16:13.

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor 2:12 -14

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of man except his own spirit within him? So too, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Cor 2:9-11.


It’s important to note Paul’s picture of the Spirit filled life isn’t to just fend off evil. Nor is it a monastic retreat from life. or even a bloody engagement with life. Because in :19 he tells us that a Spirit filled life is a joy filled life - a life that chooses praise even when life is tough and dark. Notice I didn’t say happiness. There are times when life is anything but happy but joy runs deeper than happiness that focuses on Christ understanding that He speaks hope even when life doesn’t. Hope that He holds me when it’s sometimes hard for me to hold on to Him.


The evidence of being filled with the Spirit is not some spiritual high or some spectacular manifestation. The evidence is joy and thankfulness. It’s a life of praise that allows us to feel awe; that allows us to feel wonder; that overwhelms us with the greatness of God and His loving care.

All around us we are pointed away from that. We praise the inventiveness of man that takes us into the heavens but fail to praise the Creator of the heavens into which man wants to go. We praise the beauty of creation but fail to praise the Creator for the beauty He gives us to see.

But the Spirit points us elsewhere, to see past the heavens and past creation to see Christ. Where we stand in awe of Him - invited into the wonder of His love, invited into the wonder of His Cross. And in that wonder, the wonder of God putting His Spirit inside all who come to saving faith in Jesus. His Spirit enabling us to live with purpose and joy in a world desperate for these things.

And in that – thankfulness. Tim Keller describes the absence of thankfulness as cosmic treason - the refusal to acknowledge our debt, overthrowing the rule of the one to whom we owe everything. Several passages tell us that ingratitude is a sin that will put us in bondage.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Rom 1:21. Because you didn’t serve the LORD your God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore you shall serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against you, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things Dt 28:47, 48.


Wind. Fire. Holy Spirit. Languages. Later Peter preached the gospel, 3,000 were saved in one day. Note the sequence again: Wind … Fire … Holy Spirit … Languages … Preaching … Conversion.

Acts 1:8 says plainly: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

God’s Spirit enabled those who were in the upper room to speak with new languages in a way that those in attendance heard the gospel in their own language. He does the very same in our day, speaking the language people need to hear. Now that’s a statement that will trip some up, sending us back into our camps - separating ourselves from one another. Tongues. Signs and wonders. The miraculous; the unexpected; the unpredictable. Things outside my understanding.

Do I believe God still moves in the spectacular? Yes, because He is God. Do I believe He gives visions like report after report that indicate how He is bringing people to faith in Muslim countries. Yes, because He is God. But understand this, the question isn’t tongues or no tongues and putting down stakes on these. That understanding is too small. For the moment, put that question aside.

The much greater question is whether you and I will speak in new languages of love, power and faith that are Spirit empowered and God given. The language of God’s love that speaks redemptive hope and life so people come into saving faith in Jesus. That language of Christ’s love and joy that communicates the reality of a living God. Not tongues or no tongues but the power of God’s presence in my life and yours so people see Jesus.

That, my friends, is the only language that really matters. So let’s quit fighting about the Holy Spirit and instead, begin living in Him, asking Him – no matter what the means and how that is demonstrated - to fill and empower us, enabling us to live - ALL IN.

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