Continuing to follow the ‘full of the Spirit’ language as I’m working through Acts in our current sermon series. In Acts 6, the apostles make ‘being full of the Spirit and wisdom’ a requirement for the 7 men who are to sort out the problems with the feeding of the Hebraic widows and Greek widows. Then Stephen, one of the 7, is specifically mentioned as being ‘full of the Holy Spirit and faith.’
Given that the Spirit has already been so closely associated with the bold proclamation of Jesus in Acts (Acts 1:8, 2:1ff, 4:8,31) it’s no surprise that Stephen goes on to give a huge sermon to the Sanhedrin before being martyred, and Philip (another one of the 7) also has a significant evangelistic ministry.
I am wondering however, given that the 7 men were chosen to free up the apostles for their own ministry of word and prayer, if the apostles were anticipating this kind of proclamation ministry from them, or if it was just a bye-product of the Spirit’s focus on mission in these early days – to be full of the Spirit inevitably meant to boldly proclaim the Gospel.
Either way, it raises the question of how to use the ‘full of the Spirit’ language today. We are just looking to elect new elders in our church, and I have to admit I haven’t used full of the Spirit language to describe the kind of men we are looking for. This is ok in one sense, because Paul doesn’t use this language in 1Timothy or Titus either. But to speak of being ‘full of the Spirit’ is a helpful way of highlighting that we are not just looking for human qualities in church leaders. We are looking for evidence of God being at work.
Time to see how this is going to play out in my talk for Sunday….