Paul’s last letter was written to Timothy, a young minister he had ordained. Paul said: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:6-7, NIV). We get a picture of a fire that’s almost out, embers that need to be breathed on to keep the fire alive. Paul wanted Timothy to fan the flames of the Spirit. He warned Timothy not to neglect them, but to stir up the fire and keep it going. Whatever Timothy did, he was to prevent the fire from being extinguished; he was to give attention to the Spirit’s work in him. Without that anointing, Timothy would never fulfill the purposes of God for his life.

Charles Finney, a nineteenth-century Presbyterian minister and former president of Oberlin College, preached a series of lectures on revivals of religion, which later became a book and is now considered a spiritual classic. In it he describes three key points about the Holy Spirit:
  • Jesus promised the Spirit’s fullness. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
  • Scripture commands Christians to be filled with the Holy Spirit. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Just as there are commands to love one another and not to steal, “be filled with the Spirit” is no different. It is expressed in the imperative form, meaning it is a command no different from any other biblical command.
  • The fullness of the Spirit is a necessity in our lives. When Jesus declared, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), He meant what He said.

When God takes control of a life or a church, He takes control through the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is the Helper Jesus sent to do the job. When we fear giving control to the Spirit, we really fear God’s control over our lives. When we refuse to yield to the Spirit, we miss out on the holy excitement of living beyond ourselves.

Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.