Tonight is the first presidential debate, and everyone is guaranteeing it will be entertaining. I don’t doubt it. One of the tactics we may see tonight, often used by politicians, is the redefining of a word. This change in definition can give a candidate with a past unpopular statement a way to maneuver out of a corner they have put themselves in through their words.
Remember the redefining of the word “is” during a former president’s term in office? If they can make the word mean something different than what you and I have always understood it to mean, do words even matter? They do. After all, how can anyone carry on a conversation if the words they are using have different meanings to each person in the conversation?
We recently unveiled our new mission statement in the context of a new message series on the vision for the church. It is “Helping broken people become Spirit-filled followers of Jesus who help broken people.” During the process of constructing our mission statement, our Vision Team labored over each word used. We wanted to clearly capture what we believe is God’s direction for the church body.
One word continued to rise as a clear example of who we are — “Spirit-filled.” For our church, it is important we all have the same definition when we are stating our mission. When we talk of Spirit-filled followers of Christ, we mean those who have had an experience with the Holy Spirit following their salvation through belief in Jesus Christ. This experience is not the same as receiving the Holy Spirit in the way everyone does when they become a follower of Jesus. It is different and separate.
We have several examples of this in Acts 8:15, 9:17, and 19:2. These scriptures tell us of a secondary work happening in the lives of people after they believed on Jesus Christ. This experience is referred to as baptism in the Holy Spirit, baptism with the Holy Spirit, baptism of the Holy Spirit or being filled with the Spirit. Theologians will argue the differences, but for us, they have the same meaning.
If you have not experienced being filled with the Holy Spirit as defined in the Bible, you do not have all that God offers; being Spirit-filled is provided for every believer. Jesus told his disciples and consequently us, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you." This is strength through the Spirit to face life’s obstacles, authority to use the Gifts of the Spirit (healing, knowledge, wisdom, faith, etc.) and the faith and confidence needed when sharing Christ with those at work, school, neighborhood, family and beyond.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is for everyone who is a believer in Jesus Christ and not confined to a church, denomination or label. Don't be content with where you are spiritually, but ask Jesus to fill you with the Holy Spirit. Ask and you will receive.