What Does Acts 4:31 Mean?

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.

Acts 4:31(NASB)

Verse of the Day

Being baptised into the Body of Christ, sealed by the Spirit of God, and having Him take up permanent residence in our mortal body, are some of the wonderful ministries that take place the moment a sinner believes in Christ and trusts the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation.

These supernatural ministries occur once in the life of every believer at the point of salvation. They change our relationship with God, our status on earth, and our eternal destiny. The Holy Spirit has other supernatural offices in the life of a believer that are set in motion at the point of salvation. They include the bestowing of spiritual gifts and His 'filling' office, for we all receive spiritual gifts according to the proportion of our faith, and we are all are commanded to 'be filled with the Spirit'.

Although the filling of the Spirit is inextricably linked to our initial salvation, it is an ongoing ministry that continues throughout life. It is a work of the Spirit that can be stifled and quenched by carnality and fleshly behaviour, or one that can blossom into spiritual fruit, as a believer is filled time and again.

In Ephesians, we are commanded: "Be filled, and keep on being filled, with the Spirit," for when we abide in Christ, the indwelling Spirit is given authority to work the works of God in our life. When we submit to Him, our spiritual giftings are exercised for the glory of God. And when we walk in spirit and truth, we will grow in grace, mature in the faith, produce spiritual fruit, and live a life that honours our Father in heaven.

Being filled with the Spirit means we are emptied of self. It is linked with abiding in Christ and resting in His sufficient strength, rather than trusting in our own insufficient abilities. It means living godly in Christ Jesus as we obey His Word and maintain fellowship with the Father through the regular confession of our sin: "For if we confess our sin God is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

OH, we are POSITIONALLY forgiven! We are permanently forgiven at salvation and clothed in Christ's eternal righteousness, which gives us eternal peace with God. But we live in a fallen world and need the ongoing peace of God to govern our hearts. Sins we commit in life break the precious communion we enjoy with the Father, and broken fellowship must be restored through the confession of sin. Oh! NOT through a priest, a confessional, or earthly mediator, as some like to teach. We are to confess our wrongdoing directly to our Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ our heavenly Mediator.

To be filled with the Spirit, we need to "walk by the Spirit," so we will not gratify the desires of the flesh: "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with Him, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin." When filled with the Spirit we will: "Follow Christ's example, as dearly loved children." Having escaped the corruption in the world, we will abide in Christ and He in us, and we will become 'living epistles' whose lives are an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord.

In a number of places in Acts, we find believers being filled with the Spirit. The first time was at Pentecost when the Church was born. That was the point when those who obediently remained in Jerusalem, as instructed by Christ, were collectively baptised by the Spirit into the Body of Christ. They were filled with the Spirit and received the gift of tongues, as we read in Acts 2.

The Church grew rapidly in those early days of Christendom, and in Chapter 4, we find another lovely example of Christians being filled with the Spirit as they prayed together: "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."

There was not only a numerical increase since Pentecost but also spiritual growth. At first, they proclaimed God's wonderful works, but in this passage, they were further empowered to speak the gospel of God with boldness. Earlier verses showed individuals like Peter and the apostles being filled with the Spirit, but here it was a collective occurrence. 

An important thing to note is that this fresh new filling was a sovereign act of God, which took place under His authority in response to prayer, and for a particular purpose. God supplied them with the courage and enthusiasm to tell forth the truth of the gospel when He deemed it necessary. We cannot demand to have a fresh filling of the Spirit, nor can we make some 'positive confession' forcing God to fill us anew at our whim and our instruction. The type of filling in this chapter was under HIS sovereign authority and for HIS specific purpose. In this passage, the filling of the fledgling Church was to speak the Word of God with boldness.

While the filling of the Spirit in Acts 4 was a sovereign act of God, we are also commanded to be filled with the Spirit, and to keep on being filled. Our responsibility to be filled with the Spirit is achieved as we submit to the Spirit's leading and guiding, as we die to our own desires and live for Him. We are not, however, to make selfish requests to be filled so we appear more spiritual than others, or because we like the idea or the 'feeling'.

May we be so in love with our Saviour and so desirous to do His will above our own that we do everything for His glory. May we be ready at all times to submit His sovereign authority over our lives and be filled with His Holy Spirit at His pleasure; to do His sovereign will, in His chosen way, at His perfect time, and for His greater glory.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, as I read about the awe inspiring events that took place when those assembled were all filled with the Holy Spirit, I can only praise and thank You for this amazing gift. Thank You that I have been saved by grace through faith and have the indwelling Spirit of God living in my heart. I pray that I would maintain fellowship with You, by walking in spirit and truth, and trusting You in all things. Father, I want to offer my life as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to You, and I pray that You would use me in whatever way You choose. Equip me, I pray, for the good work You have prepared for me to do. May I die to self and live and work for Your praise and glory. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

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