God IS Unchanging, Amen.

We can sound arguments/opinions/beliefs/thoughts…

Stephen was one of the outstanding characters in the early Church, and we read about him in Acts 6:5-15; 7:1-60; 8:2; 11:19; 22:20. He was a radiant, mighty soul-winner and the secret of his life and ministry is the fact that he was ““a man full……of The Holy Spirit”” (Acts 6:5). It is important for us to understand that the Spirit-filled life is God’’s plan and provision for every Christian; the fullness of the Holy Spirit is not given to a spiritual aristocracy, to the more mature Christian, the minister or the missionary only. On the Day of Pentecost ““all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”” (Acts 2:4); the promise is to ““all”” (Acts 2:39), and the command is to every Christian (Ephesians 5:18). As we look at Stephen we shall see what a man is like when he is full of The Holy Spirit. What are the characteristics of a Spirit-filled Christian?


In Acts 6:1-5, we read of a problem that arose in the early Church, of the way the apostles dealt with it and of their decision to select seven men to administer the benevolent fund. The qualifications required for these men are seen in verse 3, and their names are mentioned in verse 5, the first of which is ““Stephen, a man full……of the Holy Spirit””. These men were wanted not for preaching or any prominent task, but to “wait on tables”. All seven were ready to do that, and Stephen headed the list. It is clear, therefore, that a Spirit-filled Christian is one who is available to the Lord for whatever work He may appoint. Are we available to the Lord in this way? Are we ready to obey Him? – look up 2 Samuel 15:15.


In Acts 6:8 we read that Stephen became a mighty preacher and performed miracles in the name of the Lord; but although verse 8 says, ““Stephen……did great wonders and miraculous signs…”…”, was it Stephen who did these things? No! It was the Holy Spirit working through him; he was the channel, and through him flowed the power of God, and wherever there is a man full of the Holy Spirit the same thing will happen. If a man is ““full of the Holy Spirit”” then God’’s power will be at work in him. Wherever a Spirit-filled Christian goes, lives will be touched, souls will be saved and miracles will be performed, for God the Holy Spirit does His work through human channels today, just as He did in the first century.


Acts 6:9-14 tells us of the terrific onslaught that was made on Stephen by the religious people. They disputed with him, secured false witnesses and hatched up an evil plot to get rid of him. Has anything like this happened to you? Have people said unkind or untrue things about you? Stephen had all that –- and much more! How did he react under this fierce provocation? –- look at verse 15 and see, for this is how we shall react if we are “full of the Holy Spirit”. We would have sympathised with Stephen if he had retaliated under such pressure from his enemies, but he reacted graciously when he was provoked and pressed almost to the limit. What a tremendous testimony he bore in his life and on his face!


In Acts 7:2-53, we have the record of the defence that Stephen made before his accusers, and notice that his “sermon” was filled with quotations from the scriptures. A careful review of these verses reveals that:-

  1. 1. He KNEW the Scriptures. Only one who was familiar with the record of God’’s dealings with His people could so accurately relate such a story.
  2. 2. He BELIEVED the Scriptures. He believed the historical parts of the Old Testament; he referred to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the twelve Patriarchs, Joseph, Moses and the deliverance at the Red Sea…,…He also believed the prophetic scriptures, as verse 52 makes perfectly clear.
  3. 3. He PREACHED the Scriptures. How skilfully he wielded the “sword of the Spirit”! –- look up and compare Hebrews 4:12 and Ephesians 6:17.
  4. 4. He presented CHRIST in the Scriptures. He spoke of the Lord’’s incarnation, His sinless nature, His trial and of Calvary.
  5. 5. He APPLIED the Scriptures to his listeners. He did this powerfully and fearlessly, as verse 51 tells us.

A Spirit-filled Christian is one who is full of the Word of God –- look up Colossians 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:15.


In Acts 7:54-59 we read of the furious situation that built up around Stephen, ending with his death by stoning. What were his reactions in the midst of these tremendous sufferings? Was he filled with self-pity? Did he cry out to his accusers to spare him? No, he was wonderfully sustained, he rode the storm of trial triumphantly, and Acts 7:55-56 tells us how he was able to do this –- ““But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up…“…” This is what a Spirit-filled man does when death itself comes; he knows how to look up and to see Jesus exalted and glorified, and he is upheld in the hour of trial by the clear vision he has of his Lord – compare Hebrews 11:27; 2 Corinthians 9:8; 12:9-10.


Acts 7:59-60 gives us a moving picture of Stephen’’s martyrdom. What was he doing while he was being stoned? He was doing what Jesus did when He was dying on the cross –- compare Luke 23:34 and 46 with Acts 7:59-60. The one thing above everything else that will characterise a man as being full of the Holy Spirit is that he is like the Lord Jesus – – look up 2 Corinthians 3:18.


In Acts 8:2 we read of the sorrow that filled the hearts of the “godly men” who carried Stephen to his burial; they “mourned deeply for him.” What a loss it was to the Church when Stephen went to Heaven! A Spirit-filled man will always be missed.

This, then, is what ““Stephen, a man full……of the Holy Spirit””, was like. Are you ready to be so emptied of sin and self that the Holy Spirit may fill and use you?

Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because The Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching The Word in the province of Asia at that time.

The influence of The Holy Spirit…

4 Levels of Holy Spirit Influence

The Holy Spirit has been in this world from the beginning of creation (Gen 1:1-2).  This is the first level of Holy Spirit influence.  The Holy Spirit functions in the natural world as well as in the sphere of man.  The Spirit does not stop natural or manmade destruction.  However, He does determine the level of destruction and the carnage nature or man can cause.  In short, the Spirit limits Satan’s power in this world; limiting his power over the natural world and over the human sphere.  We see this in the story of Job.

This first level of Holy Spirit influence will not always hold back the degree of natural or manmade destruction.   The book of Revelation tells us that someday the “winds” of destruction will be let go upon this earth (Rev 7:1-3).  Even the book of Genesis foretold this withdrawing of the Spirit’s general influence in the world (Gen 6:3).   In fact, even today this gradual withdrawing of the Holy Spirit’s influence is being seen in the events taking place around the world.  This final withdrawing of the Spirit’s influence in the world will take place when the judgment ends (Rev 15:6-8).  At that time the world enters  the great tribulation described in Revelation chapter 13, the seven last plagues (Rev 16) fall upon the world (without “mixture – without mercy – Rev 14:10), every man and woman are either for or against God (Rev 22:11-12), then Jesus returns in glory.

The second level of Holy Spirit influence is the convicting and converting power of the Spirit that is available to every man, woman and child.  It is this level of the Spirit’s power that brings the born again experience (John 3:1-8).

The third level of Holy Spirit influence is what the Bible calls the baptism of the Spirit or infilling of the Spirit.  In the Old Testament times this level of Holy Spirit influence was only available to a few individuals who God chose for a specific work such as Moses, Elijah, Elisha, the Old Testament book authors, etc.  This limited level of Holy Spirit influence continued until after Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension to the Father.

Joel foretold that the time would come when this third level of Holy Spirit influence would be available to “all flesh,” meaning being available to every believer and it would take place following the appearance of the “I AM” in Israel (Joel 2:27-29).  Jesus also told His disciples of this happening when He said the time was coming when the Spirit would “dwell in them;” not just “with them” (John 14:16-18).  The availability of the infilling, baptism of the Spirit for every believer in Jesus took place on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).  Peter in his sermon on that day pointed to this outpouring of the Spirit as fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Acts 2:14-20).  Every believer should daily ask God to fill them with His Spirit so they can daily experience this third level of Holy Spirit power in their life (Ephesians 5:18).

This third level of Holy Spirit influence called the baptism of the Spirit or infilling of the Spirit is also referred to as the “early rain” of the Spirit (Joel 2:23).  However, in this verse in Joel he also refers to a “latter rain” of the Spirit (Joel 2:23).  This latter rain of the Spirit is what I call the fourth level of Holy Spirit influence.  Also, by Joel using the term “early rain” to refer to the great outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost he informs us that we must personally experience the early rain, baptism of the Spirit to the fullest if we want to benefit from the latter rain of the Spirit. 

This fourth level of Holy Spirit influence or latter rain of the Spirit will become available at the very end of time to God’s people who have grown fully into Christ under the early rain power of the Spirit (Acts 3:19-20) as God’s last warning message to the world is given in the greatest power described in Revelation chapter fourteen.  This chapter describes the latter rain empowered people who give the message (Rev 14:1-5, 12), God’s last warning message they give (Rev 14:6-11), and Christ glorious return (Rev 14:14-20).  This fourth level of Holy Spirit power is necessary for God’s people to not only give God’s last warning message in the Spirit and power of Elijah; it is also necessary for God’s people to experience in order to victoriously make it through Satan’s final attacks just prior to and during the tribulation, and be ready for Christ second coming (1John 3:2-3).

In the last days, God says, “I will pour out My Spirit on all people; your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”

Published by Fellowship of Praise: ALL praise to God our Reason, Hallelujah!!!

To God be The glory. Let us praise God together for His ALL in our lives, Amen.

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