Friday, February 29, 2008

The Free Offer- Pastor David King

Presbyterian pastor and author David King gave this call at the end of a session at the 2006 Alpha & Omega Conference. I will admit that when I heard this in person, I didn't think it was quite "Calvinistic" enough. Now, however, I would say this is one of the most Biblical, genuine, and passionate pleas to come to Christ that I have ever heard!:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Free Offer- More from Spurgeon

Here is an interesting sermon (though preached much earlier than Bread Enough and to Spare)... Spurgeon noted that he felt he'd sometimes faltered in inviting sinners as freely as he should. Perhaps Spurgeon should have added "If you are willing, then bless God, for it is by His own grace and power that you have been made willing." But then again, just as in the verse Spurgeon is expounding, God doesn't add that to every invitation...

In the second place we observe from the text that the invitation is very wide—"WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY." How wide is this invitation! There are some ministers who are afraid to invite sinners, then why are they ministers! for they are afraid to perform the most important part of the sacred office. There was a time I must confess when I somewhat faltered when about to give a free invitation. My doctrinal sentiments did at the time somewhat hamper me. I boldly avow that I am unchanged as to the doctrines I have preached; I preach Calvinism as high, as stern, and as sound as ever; but I do feel, and always did feel an anxiety to invite sinners to Christ. And I do feel also, that not only is such a course consistent with the soundest doctrines, but that the other course is after all the unsound one, and has no title whatever to plead Scripture on its behalf. There has grown up in many Baptist churches an idea that none are to be called to Christ but what they call sensible sinners. I sometimes rebut that by remarking, that I call stupid sinners to Christ as well as sensible sinners, and that stupid sinners make by far the greatest proportion of the ungodly. But I glory in the avowal that I preach Christ even to insensible sinners—that I would say even to the dry bones of the valley, as Ezekiel did, "Ye dry bones live!" doing it as an act of faith; not faith in the power of those that hear to obey the command, but faith in the power of God who gives the command to give strength also to those addressed, that they may be constrained to obey it. But now listen to my text; for here, at least, there is no limitation. But sensible or insensible, all that the text saith is, "Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely."

The one question I have to ask this morning is, art thou willing? if so, Christ bids thee take the water of life. Art thou willing? if so, be pardoned, be sanctified be made whole. For if thou art willing Christ is willing too, and thou art freely invited to come and welcome to the fountain of life and grace.

Now mark, the question has to do with the will. "Oh," says one, "I am so foolish I cannot understand the plan of salvation, therefore I may not come and drink." But my question has nothing to do with your understanding, it has to do with your will. You may be as big a fool as you will, but if you are willing to come to Christ you are freely invited. If you could not read a single letter in the alphabet, or spell out a word in the book, yet may your lips—ignorant lips though they be—now drink of this water of life. It has nothing to do with your understanding; it does not say "Whosoever understandeth let him come," but "whosoever will," and I do not doubt but what there are many souls who when they first come to Christ have very little understanding of the way of salvation, and very little knowledge of the way in which he saves; but they come to Christ, the Holy Ghost makes them willing to come, and so they are saved. Oh ye who have been for many a year wearing the pauper's garb, ye who come here from the workhouse, ye that are ignorant, ye that are despised among men—are you willing to be saved? Can you say from your heart, "Lord, thou knowest I would have my sins forgiven?" Then come and welcome. Jesus bids thee come. Let not thine ignorance keep thee away. He appeals, not to thine understanding, but to thy will.

"Oh," says one, "I can understand the plan of salvation, but I cannot repent as I would. Sir, my heart is so hard, I cannot bring the tear to my eye, I cannot feel my sins as I would desire.

"My heart how dreadful hard it is,
How heavy here it lies;
Heavy and cold within my breast,
Just like a rock of ice."

Ay, but this text has nothing to do with your heart; it is with your will. Are you willing? Then be your heart hard as the nether millstone if thou art willing to be saved I am bidden to invite thee. "Whosoever will," not "whosoever feels," but "whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely." "Yes," says one, "I can honestly say I am willing, but my heart will not soften. I wish that grace would change me. I can say I wish that Christ would soften my heart. I do desire that he would put the living fire within my cold breast and make me repent, and make me love him, and make me believe in him. I am willing." Well, then, the text is for thee, "Whosoever will, let him come." If thou art willing thou art freely invited to Christ. "No," saith one, "but I am such a great sinner. I have been a drunkard; I have been a lascivious man; I have gone far astray from the paths of rectitude. I would not have all my sins known to my fellow creatures. How can God accept of such a wretch as I am, such a foul creature as I have been?" Mark thee, man! There is no reference made here to thy past life. It simply says, "whosoever will," Art thou willing? Art thou willing to be saved? Canst thou say, "Now, Lord, I am willing to be saved, give me a new heart; I am willing to give up my sins; I am willing to be a Christian; I am willing to believe and willing to obey, but oh for this no strength have I, Lord, I have the will; give me the power." Then thou art freely invited to come, if thou art but willing. There is no barrier between thee and Christ except thy stubborn will. If thy will is subdued, and if thou art saying "Yes, Lord, I am willing," then art thou freely invited. Oh, reject not the invitation, but, come and welcome, sinner come."

But saith one, "I cannot come, I cannot believe; I cannot do as I would." Well, but it does not say, "Whosoever can, let him come," but "whosoever will, let him come." Art thou willing? You know there is many a man that has more will than power, but God estimates us not by our power, but by our will. You see a man on horseback, he is in haste to fetch a doctor for some dying man: the horse is a miserable jade, and will not go as rapidly as the man would like, but you cannot scold him because you see him whipping and spurring, and thus proving that he would go if he could, and so the master takes the man's will for the deed. So is it with you, your poor heart will not go, it is a sorry, disabled jade, but it would go if it could. So Jesus invites you, not according to what you can, but according to what you will. "Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely." All the stipulation is—Art thou willing—truly willing? If so, thou art freely welcome. Thou art earnestly invited to take of the water of life, and that freely too.

Surely as this goes round the hall, there will be many found who did answer to it, and who will say, from all their hearts, "I am willing: I am willing." Come let the question go personally round. Let me not talk to you in the mass, but let the arrow reach the individual. Grey head, give thy reply, and let you fair-haired boy answer also. Are you willing now to be saved—are you willing to forsake sin—willing to take Christ to be your master from this day forth and for ever? Are you willing to be washed in his blood? Willing to be clothed in his righteousness? Are you willing to be made happy—willing to escape from hell, and willing to enter? Strange that it should be necessary to ask such questions, but still it is. Are you willing? Then remember that whatever may be against you—whatever may have defiled you—however black, however filthy, however worthless you may be, you are invited this day to take of the fountain of the water of life freely, for you are willing, and it is said, "Whosoever will, let him come."

"Ah!" saith one, "God knows I am willing, but still I do not think I am worthy." No, I know you are not, but what is that to do with it? It is not "whosoever is worthy," but "whosoever will, let him come." "Well," says one, "I believe that whosoever will may come, but not me, for I am the vilest sinner out of hell." But mark thee, sinner, it says, "whosoever." What a big word that is! Whosoever! There is no standard height here. It is of any height and any size. Little sinners, big sinners, black sinners, fair sinners, sinners double dyed, old sinners, aggravated sinners, sinners who have committed every crime in the whole catalogue,—whosoever. Doth this exempt one? Who can be excluded from this whosoever? It mattereth not who thou mayest be, nor what thou mayest have been, if thou art willing to be saved; free as the air thou breathest is the love and grace of God. "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

Thus have I tried to show you how broad the invitation is.

"Come and Welcome"

The Free Offer- An Example from Spurgeon

Let us add a few words to close with, close grappling words to some of you to whom God has sent his message this morning, and whom he intends to save. O you who have been long hearers of the gospel, and who know it well in theory, but have felt none of the power of it in your hearts, let me now remind you where and what you are! You are perishing. As the Lord liveth, there is but a step between you and death; but a step, nay, but a breath between you and hell. Sinner, if at this moment thy heart should cease its beating, and there are a thousand causes that might produce that result ere the clock ticks again, thou wouldst, be in the flames of divine wrath canst thou bear to be in such peril? If you were hanging over a rock by a slender thread which must soon break, and if you would then fall headlong down a terrible precipice, you would not sleep, but be full of alarm. May you have sense enough, wit enough, grace enough, to be alarmed until you escape from the wrath to come.

Recollect, however, that while you are perishing, you are perishing in sight of plenty; you are famishing where a table is abundantly spread; what is more, there are those whom you know now sitting at that table and feasting. What sad perversity for a man to persist in being starved in the midst of a banquet, where others are being satisfied with good things!

But I think I hear you say, "I fear I have no right to come to Jesus." I will ask you this: have you any right to say that till you have been denied! Did you ever try to go to Christ? Has he ever rejected you? If then you have never received a repulse, why do you wickedly imagine that he would repel you? Wickedly, I say, for it is an offense against the Christ who opened his heart upon the gross, to imagine that he could repel a penitent. Have you any right to say, "But I am not one of those for whom mercy is provided"? Who told you so? Have you climbed to heaven and read the secret records of God election? Has the Lord revealed a strange decree to you, and said, "Go and despair, I will have no pity on you"? If you say that God has so spoken, I do not believe you. In this sacred book is recorded what God has said, here is the sure word of testimony, and in it I find it said of no humble seeker that God hath shut him out from his grace. Why hast thou a right to invent such a fiction in order to secure thine own damnation? Instead thereof, there is much in the word of God and elsewhere to encourage thee in coming to Christ. He has not repelled one sinner yet; that is good to begin with: it is not likely that he would, for since he died to save sinners, why should he reject them when they seek to be saved? You say, "I am afraid to come to Christ." Is that wise? I have heard of a poor navigator who had been converted, who had but little education, but who knew the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and when dying, very cheerfully and joyful longed to depart. His wife said to him, "But, mon, ain't ye afeared to stand before the judge?" "Woman," said he, "why should I be afeared of a man as died for me?" Oh, why should you be afraid of Christ who died for sinners? The idea of being afraid of him should be banished by the fact that he shed his blood for the guilty. You have much reason to believe from the very fact that he died, that he will receive you. Besides, you have his word for it, for he saith, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out"—for no reason, and in no way, and on no occasion, and under no presence, and for no motive. "I will not not cast him out," says the original. "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." You say it is too good to be true that there can be pardon for you: this is a foolish measuring of God's corn with your bushel, and because it seems too good a thing for you to receive, you fancy it is too good for God to bestow. Let the greatness of the good news be one reason for believing that the news is true, for it is so like God.

"Who is a pardoning God like thee?
Or who hath grace so rich and free?"

Because the gospel assures us that he forgives great sins through a great Savior, it looks as if it were true, since he is so great a God.

What should be the result of all this with every sinner here at this time? I think this good news should arouse those who have almost gone to sleep through despair. The sailors have been pumping the vessel, the leaks are gaining, she is going down, the captain is persuaded she must be a wreck. Depressed by such evil tidings, the men refuse to work; and since the boats are all stove in and they cannot make a raft, they sit down in despair. Presently the captain has better news for them. "She will float," he says; "the wind is abating too, the pumps tell upon the water, the leak can be reached yet." See how they work; with what cheery courage they toil on, because there is hope! Soul, there is hope! There is hope! THERE IS HOPE! To the harlot, to the thief, to the drunkard.

"There is no hope," says Satan. Liar that thou art, get thee back to thy den; for thee there is no hope; but for fallen man, though he be in the mire of sin up to his very neck, though he be at the gates of death, while he lives there is hope. There is hope for hopeless souls in the Savior.

In addition to arousing us this ought to elevate the sinner's thoughts. Some years ago, there was a crossing-sweeper in Dublin, with his broom, at the corner, and in all probability his highest thoughts were to keep the crossing clean, and look for the pence. One day, a lawyer put his hand upon his shoulder, and said to him, "My good fellow, do you know that you are heir to a fortune of ten thousand pounds a year?" "Do you mean it?" said he. "I do," he said. "I have just received the information; I am sure you are the man." He walked away, and he forgot his broom. Are you astonished? Why, who would not have forgotten a broom when suddenly made possessor of ten thousand a year? So, I pray that some poor sinners, who have been thinking of the pleasures of the world, when they hear that there is hope, and that there is heaven to be had, will forget the deceitful pleasures of sin, and follow after higher and better things.

Should it not also purify the mind? The prodigal, when he said, "I will arise and go to my father," became in a measure reformed from that very moment. How, say you? Why, he left the swine-trough: more, he left the wine cup, and he left the harlots. He did not go with the harlot on his arm, and the wine cup in his hand, and say, "I will take these with me, and go to my father." It could not be. These were all left, and though he had no goodness to bring, yet he did not try to keep his sins and come to Christ. I shall close with this remark, because it will act as a sort of caveat, and be a fit word to season the wide invitations of the free gospel. Some of you, I fear, will make mischief even out of the gospel, and will dare to take the cross and use it for a gibbet for your souls. If God is so merciful, you will go therefore and sin the more; and because grace is freely given, therefore you will continue in sin that grace may abound. If you do this, I would solemnly remind you I have no grace to preach to such as you. "Your damnation is just;" it is the word of inspiration, and the only one I know that is applicable to such as you are; but every needy, guilty soul that desires a Savior is told to-day to believe in Jesus, that is, trust in the substitution and sacrifice of Christ, trust him to take your sin and blot it out; trust him to take your soul and save it. Trust Christ entirely, and you are forgiven this very moment; you are saved this very instant, and you may rejoice now in the fact that being justified by faith you have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. O come ye, come ye, come ye; come and welcome; come ye now to the Redeemer's blood. Holy Spirit, compel them to come in, that the house of mercy may be filled. Amen, and Amen.

"Bread Enough and to Spare"

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

On The Free Offer of the Gospel

The Free Offer of the Gospel- John Murray

Sovereignty and Responsibility in Judas' Betrayal- Jim Savastio

Are There Two Wills in God?- John Piper

Now, at this point, I remain unconvinced that 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9 are speaking of every individual. We also know from other places that God's judgments are just, and God is most assuredly glorified in having vessels of honor and dishonor (Romans 9, for example). None of the above links deny this. But Ezekiel 18:23 does say that, in some way, God does not take delight in the death of the wicked. And various other texts from the Old Testament brought up by Murray seem to agree. Other texts brought out in my pastor's sermon in respect to Judas are causing me to reconsider this issue. Does God merely declare that all men everywhere repent (Acts 17:30), or does He in some sense desire this as well?

Murray writes in his article:

It must be admitted that if the expression [desire] were intended to apply to the decretive will of God then there would be, at least, implicit contradiction. For to say that God desires the salvation of the reprobate and also that God wills the damnation of the reprobate and apply the former to the same thing as the latter, namely, the decretive will, would be contradiction; it would amount to averring of the same thing, viewed from the same aspect, God wills and God does not will. The question then is: what is implicit in, or lies back of; the full and free offer of the gospel to all without distinction? The word "desire" has come to be used in the debate, not because it is necessarily the most accurate or felicitous word but because it serves to set forth quite sharply a certain implication of the full and free offer of the gospel to all. This implication is that in the free offer there is expressed not simply the bare preceptive will of God but the disposition of lovingkindness on the part of God pointing to the salvation to be gained through compliance with the overtures of gospel grace. In other words, the gospel is not simply an offer or invitation but also implies that God delights that those to whom the offer comes would enjoy what is offered in all its fullness. And the word "desire" has been used in order to express the thought epitomized in Ezekiel 33:11, which is to the effect that God has pleasure that the wicked turn from his evil way and live. It might as well have been said, "It pleases God that the wicked repent and be saved."

Again, the expression "God desires,'' in the formula that crystallizes the crux of the question, is intended to notify not at all the "seeming" attitude of God but a real attitude, a real disposition of lovingkindness inherent in the free offer to all, in other words, a pleasure or delight in God, contemplating the blessed result to be achieved by compliance with the overture proffered and the invitation given.

This view would not mean that God was grieved over His ultimate plan, however. He is not sitting back wringing His hands, like the Arminians would have us believe. There is no plan B with God-- all His decrees are fulfilled, and He does what He pleases (Psalm 115:3 and 135:6). Piper says in his article:

The difference between Calvinists and Arminians lies not in whether there are two wills in God, but in what they say this higher commitment is. What does God will more than saving all? The answer given by Arminians is that human self-determination and the possible resulting love relationship with God are more valuable than saving all people by sovereign, efficacious grace. The answer given by Calvinists is that the greater value is the manifestation of the full range of God's glory in wrath and mercy (Romans 9:22-23) and the humbling of man so that he enjoys giving all credit to God for his salvation (1 Corinthians 1:29).

Biblical examples: the Fall, the sufferings of Christ

I will give a contemporary, everyday example. My pastor and I were talking several weeks ago about a snow-storm that had canceled a Wednesday night prayer meeting. He told me something he'd heard from another pastor: "We shouldn't judge God's heart by His hand." God delights in His people gathering for corporate prayer, but for whatever reason His hidden will decreed, He chose to send that snow-storm.

Hopefully this is good food for thought...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Far More Abundantly Beyond

Ephesians 3:20-21- "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen." (NASB)

Over the last month, the Lord has been reviving my heart after a particularly dry season. You know-- those dry seasons where you half-heartedly try to go through the motions of prayer and Bible reading, and you feel your love for Christ and His Church burn low? Not to mention the apathy that arises when you start thinking "God's not going to save my lost family, and, after all, He's sovereign, so why pray?" Sure, we can all answer this question theologically but...sometimes that which should be our lifeblood can seem so routine!

Well, blessed be God, for a broken spirit and a contrite heart He will not despise (Psalm 51:17)! And the Spirit helps in our weakness, interceding for us when we do not know how to pray (Romans 8:26-27)! There were some issues that I had to deal with between myself and God, and, to put it simply, He is blessing the decisions I have made in that regard.

One major area of meditation is the topic of this blog entry: what God has given us in Christ. How much time have you spent doing this? We may have sung "count your blessings, name them one by one" in VBS, but have we done it in earnest? I know that it is something I could do a lot more! After all, Ephesians 1:3 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ."

We can spend so much time talking and thinking about what we don't have. We can also spend lots of time talking and thinking about what God hasn't promised us. And there is room for that. There are people out there who are making millions off of telling us God will give us 10-bedroom houses and red Ferraris, with lifetime supplies of Colgate Total tossed in, if only we had just enough faith. There are also those out there who would tell us they love Jesus or that they believe in salvation by grace, but they mean something totally false and totally different than we do. We must take that into account and give them a Biblical answer.

But what I am saying is this: I don't want the default position of my mind set on who Christ is NOT and what He has NOT promised; I want the default to be about who Christ IS and what He HAS promised!

With that in mind... I will address just several of the major areas in which God has been teaching me.

1. The Word of God

In every historic corporate reviving of the people of God, the Word has been central. And it is no different in personal revival.

It is the sword of the Spirit, is it not (Eph 6:17)? Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

Jesus, after praying to the Father for us to be sanctified in the truth, declared "Your Word is truth" (John 17:17). The world tries to make us believe that the answers lie in culture, academia, self-help, psychology, and a myriad of other things. But the people of God are shaped and grown by the Word of God!

King David sang about this Word in Psalm 19:7-11
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.

We should pray that God would make us love His Word more than any other book, any commentator, any Puritan. Not that commentaries and the Puritans are all bad. But we should desire to be reading our Bibles, praying while we read, asking God to make our hearts obedient and submissive to the truth, seeking the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. And then supplementing our Bible reading with solid authors and commentaries.

2. Prayer

I have already mentioned this in the paragraph on the Word of God. That's because we need God's help to understand and apply His Word. In fact, we are to pray in everything (Phil 4:6) and without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17). Beyond this, we are to devote ourselves to prayer (Romans 12:12; Col. 4:2).

Here are just some of the things that we are to pray for:

Ephesians 6:18-19- "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel"

Jude 1:-21- "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life."

Matthew 26:41- "'Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'"

Psalm 122:6- "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: 'May they prosper who love you.'"

I Timothy 2:1- "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men"

Matthew 5:44- "'But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you'"

Luke 6:28- "'Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you'"

After all, God hears, and even delights in, the prayers of His people!:

Proverbs 15:29- "The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous."

Proverbs 15:8- "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is His delight."

Isaiah 56:7- "Even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples."

Revelation 5:8- "When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."

Revelation 8:3-4- "Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand.

In praying, we help fulfill the Great Commission!

2 Corinthians 1:11- "you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many."

It was the first thing the disciples did after the Lord ascended into Heaven:

Acts 1:14- "These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers"

My pastor just preached on this text in his exposition of Acts. He explained that "with one mind" can also be translated as "with one passion" or "one soul." The Greek term used is homothumadon, which denotes a burning, red-hot desire. May the Lord grant to us a unity in our churches that goes beyond our intellectual assent to truth! May we be united in our love and zeal for the exaltation of Christ and the furtherance of His Kingdom!

3. The Holy Spirit

I've been realizing that I need to rely on the help and aid of the Holy Spirit more. It is so easy to try to live out the Christian life on our own strength. And yet when we try, we end up failing and at best settling into a life of mere routine and half-hearted service. Why is it that we as Reformed people can neglect this aspect of our Christian walk? Perhaps we need to hear Paul's rebuke: "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3).

I think a large part of this is pride. I know by experience. "I know the Doctrines of Grace. I read the Puritans. I'm even a presuppositionalist! Oh yeah, and a cessationist, so people like me just don't pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit. It's pretty much intellectual, the Spirit already indwells us, so why ask for more of Him? And being filled with the Spirit is something *I* do, right, by simply living out my Christian life?"

I don't know how I got around this verse before:

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:13)

Or this one:

"'For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure'" (John 3:34)

Seems to me that we are to ask for more of the Spirit in our lives, not that we don't have Him already indwelling us, but that we need to be filled more and more with Him.

What has God given to us in the Holy Spirit?

-We were born again of the Spirit (John 3:8)
-We were baptized by Him and made to drink of Him (I Cor 12:13)
-The Spirit indwells us from the time of our conversion (Romans 8:9)
-We were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise for the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30)
-He was given into our hearts as a pledge (2 Cor 1:22)

But my main problem was realizing what the Spirit does now in the life of the believer. Here is His ongoing work:

Romans 8:26-27- "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."

John 14:16- "'I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever'"

John 14:26- "'But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.'"

John 16:7= "'But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.'"

Galatians 5:22-23- "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

Romans 8:15- "For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba! Father!'"

Acts 4:31- "And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness."

(Some continuationist may say, "Doesn't Acts 2:4 say. 'And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.'" I believe that this particular manifestation of the Spirit was needed just in the Apostolic era. For more on this, see Sam Waldron's book To Be Continued?). Boldness to preach the Gospel, of course, is still very much needed!

And this last verse is well-needed for balance and a proper understanding, for the Spirit testifies to and exalts Christ.

"'When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me'" (John 15:26)

Rolling around on the floor and laughing hysterically is not testifying to Christ. Hearing God's Word with power, the Spirit's intercession on our behalf, His comfort, the assurance we have that we are adopted, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and the bold proclamation of the Gospel are Christ glorifying!

"And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 13:52)

"And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18)

Oh, that God would show us our weakness and need of the Spirit to empower us daily! And may God grant to us truly Spirit-filled men, women, and churches who love the Lord Jesus and seek to live lives marked by a dependence on Him and glad-hearted obedience to His will!