Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 1 Message Outlines
Luke 1:56-80 (7)
by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 7 August 29 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(089)Thesis:God's plan for "filling" man with Himself involves a "faith in revealed truth" methodology.
Introduction:This morning we are going to "slow down" a little in our hurried rush through Luke's words to Theophilus. I have been arrested by Luke's focus upon the "filling of the Holy Spirit" in relation to the way most of us, as believers, live. This motivates my curiosity about God's provision for life as that Provision is identified as the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, we have "life" as the experience that results from God's (pretty much direct) provision of relational reality so that "peace" with God results in a "restfulness" of the soul and spirit as our confidence in what He has said grows and includes "me". Then, on the other hand, we have life as the experience that results from the way things "happen" to us in this world where the "restfulness of the soul and spirit" is directly challenged by events that we did not plan, we did not foresee, nor did we "want". Both of these issues of "life" have a solid root; but that root has only a rather tenuous "connector" to us. Luke addresses the "root" in our text this morning as he draws out his illustration of the tenuous "connector" that has so much of an impact upon our actual experience of life. What we are seeing is God's plan for human "life" as a participation with Him in Who He is as Life Personified. His is not the "potato" plan, but the "tomato" plan. So, this morning, let's reconsider Luke's concept of the "filling of the Holy Spirit" and why it is mentioned.
I. Our First Issue in the Text: the "Filling of the Holy Spirit".
A. There is a difference between Luke's concept as it is unveiled by his writings in Luke and Acts and Paul's concept as it is expressed in Galatians and Ephesians.
1. The "words" chosen to express the concepts are different.
a. The word Luke uses has the sense of "domination" as illustrated by what happens when a sponge is plunged into a mixture of vinegar and water: it is so permeated by the mixture that the focus on the sponge disappears as the mixture fills it up.
b. The word Paul uses has the sense of "powerful influence" as illustrated by what happens when a bottle of potent perfume is opened in a house and the odor fills the house: it is highly notable, but not as dominating as the mixture that filled the sponge.
c. The distinction between the words has mostly to do with the degree to which "permeation" has occurred: if the permeation is more or less "total", the "filling" is "completely dominant"; if the permeation is mostly "suggestive", the "filling" is "influential", not "dominant".
2. The "results" expressed in the texts are different.
a. When Luke records that someone was "filled", the result is invariably "speech" that is "absolutely true".
1) This introduces the issue of "infallibility" into the mix and addresses the issue of "zero-tolerance" [absolute truth springs from omniscience and infinite wisdom and cannot be altered except to make it a lie].
2) This is the "root" of life as the revelation of "exactly" how life "works".
b. When Paul exhorts "filling", the result is attitude characteristics that enable people to get along with God, themselves, and one another.
1) This introduces the issue of "fallibility" into the mix and addresses the need for an extraordinary level of "tolerance" of people in their "in-process condition" [permitting a significant amount of fallibility because of the incompleteness of the process].
2) This is the first extension of the "root" of life as the "application" of the processes of life.
a) The "processes of life" include the fact of human twistedness without diminishment ["...in my flesh dwelleth no good thing..."].
b) The "processes of life" include the fact of divine input that is partial, but progressive unto completeness ["...the Law of the Spirit of Life... has made me free from the Law of Sin in my members..."].
B. Our Second Issue in the Text: "...He Prophesied, Saying...".
1. The issue of "prophecy" in Luke's record is "verbal revelation".
a. The main idea of "prophecy" is revealed in Luke 22:64 to be "the speaking forth of accurate information that cannot be obtained by human means".
b. The connection of "prophecy" to the future is rooted in the interconnectedness of Truth (it is impossible to speak "truth" that does not have implications for the future).
c. The issue of verbal revelation that is directly from the Holy Spirit is absolutely foundational to the processes of life in that this is where they begin -- as infallible, omniscience-based, truth begins to impact man in his twistedness.
2. The word "saying" is a word that invariably exalts the "content" of what is being spoken so that any who hear with wisdom will stop and ponder carefully what was actually said.
a. Speech can be presented in a way where the focus is simply upon the noise that is produced.
b. Speech can also be presented in a way where the focus is upon the concepts that are being expressed.
C. The Point of the Text: Absolute Truth Expressed Through a Human Being by God the Dominating Spirit.
II. The Mistakes We Make in Regard to Luke's Mention of the Filling of the Spirit.
A. Some of us follow Zacharias' earlier error...
1. We either discount the absoluteness of the truthfulness of that which the Spirit says in His fulness, or we discount our inclusion in that truthfulness.
2. The bottom line is the same in any case: we do not live on the basis of the Truth.
3. This is driven, in every case, by the angry despair that is natural to human twistedness.
B. Some of us follow the error of the Pharisees...
1. We make the error of attaching an "infallibility" to our understanding of what the Spirit has "infallibly revealed".
2. We make the second error of requiring the same "infallibility that we have" of others to the exclusion of mercy.
3. This is driven by the angry arrogance that is natural to human twistedness.
III. The Root of Our Mistakes.
A. In either case ["Zachariahism" or "Pharisaism"], the root is fear that arises out of false belief.
1. The "despairing" fear because they over-exalt their twistedness beyond the grace of Yahweh.
2. The "arrogant" fear because they diminish their twistedness so that grace is not necessary.
3. Neither escape fear because it is the ever-present experience of all who are not enveloped in the glory of the grace of Yahweh.
B. In neither case do the participants perceive the real root: fear that the grace of Yahweh will prove to be insufficient in "my" case.
1. Is this fear real? Can the grace of Yahweh prove to be insufficient in "my" case?
b. There will be multitudes upon multitudes upon whom the wrath of Yahweh will fall...this is the testimony of Yahweh in His words "...many there be who shall go in thereat..." (Matthew 7:13-14).
a. The despairing are overwhelmed by their "obvious" incapacity and wallow in their perceived disobediences and "feel" depressed and angry...and ultimately discover their worst fear is realized.
b. The arrogant are underwhelmed by their "obvious" responsibility and wallow in their perceived obediences and "feel" competent and angry...and ultimately discover their worst fear is realized.
a. God has never turned any away who come to Him in either despair or pride and acknowledge their reality.
b. God has never accepted any who refuse to acknowledge their reality.
IV. Some Modern Errors That Have Arisen Because of Misunderstanding the Filling of the Spirit.
A. Those who do not understand the difference between Luke and Paul often move in the direction of thinking that they are "sinless" when they are "filled with the Spirit", because they have not embraced grace as God's way of relating to "His imperfect people".
1. This error produces a kind of spiritual pride that does two things regularly...
a. It produces "boasting" and...
b. It produces a great violent anger when the boasting is pointed out.
2. The boasting and the anger ought to speak loudly, but it only does that to the on-looker.
B. Some who do not understand this difference move in the direction of dismissing the Bible in favor of something more dependable because they do not understand that if they cannot understand the Bible they will never understand any substitute.
1. This error produces "vain philosophies" in "epistemology" for the non-Christian.
2. This error produces "Charismatics" in the arena of Christianity.
C. Some who do not understand this difference move in the direction of what is often called "dead orthodoxy" because they give lip service to the Bible and its truth, but the lip service doesn't result in the "filling of the Spirit" in Paul's terms.
A. The "root" of life is the absolutely dependable revelation of God in terms that can be understood both as to content and dependability.
B. The "tenuous connector" to that root is man's "faith response".
1. The connector can be strong like piano wire.
2. The connector can be weak like boiled spaghetti.
3. The difference is not in what God does as He observes the "faith", but in the condition of the soul in the interim between the "word of God" and the "action of God".
C. If God had a "potato" plan, He would have made us the root; but He has a tomato plan in which the nourishment of the root feeds into the fruit by "faith".