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Be Filled with the Spirit.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

Charles Finney (1792-1875), the great evangelist who led, by all accounts, over a million people to Christ, shared his personal story about being powerfully filled with the Spirit. Here’s part of his story:

“I returned to the front office and found that the fire I had made of large wood was nearly burned out. But as I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection that I had ever heard the word mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body, and soul. Like a wave of electricity, I could feel the impression going through me. Indeed, it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love, for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me like immense wings. No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love, and I do not know, but I should say I bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, one after the other until I recollect, I cried out, "I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me." I said, "Lord, I cannot bear any more," yet I had no fear of death.

How long I continued in this state, with this baptism continuing to roll over me and go through me, I do not know. But I know it was late in the evening when a member of my choir — for I was the choir leader — came into the office to see me. He was a member of the church. He found me in this state of loud weeping and said, "Mr. Finney, what ails you?" I could not answer for some time. He then said, "Are you in pain?" I gathered myself up as best I could and replied, "No, but so happy that I cannot live." [1]

Finney's experience was very powerful. He went on to serve the Lord in a mighty and self-sacrificial way. Everyone has their own story of how God has interacted with them, and no two experiences are the same. However, things are different in a person's life when the Spirit of God takes the throne of their life. Often a person's inner being or heart is moved with compassion over things that did not bother them before conversion or being filled with the Spirit. When this internal change came to me, I remember walking along my hometown's street soon after my conversion to Christ, feeling compassion for the people around me. I now see this as the Holy Spirit's influence in my heart. My one goal in those early days of my Christian experience was to be able to speak on the streets to people about Christ. I wanted to talk to anyone who would listen, not only to my friends but also to others interested in spiritual things.

I went to London and preached the gospel in Hyde Park at the famed Speaker's Corner. I also went with my wife, Sandy, through France, Spain, and Portugal, with teams of other young people. We spoke publicly, performed drama skits, and told the message of Christ through songs and different creative ways of expression, doing anything to draw a crowd and share the gospel. Within four years, my wife and I were church planting with a couple of friends by multiplying small groups in my hometown. The marijuana and drug habit that held my life in my teens was wholly broken off me. A new power at work enabled me to conquer old habits and bring control and discipline to my life, something that I had not been able to do before. I long for this same power and love of God to be in you as well. Keith Thomas

Taken from the series, On Fire with the Spirit. More of Charles Finney’s story is found in God Uses Ordinary Believers.



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