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The modern church can’t seem to make up its mind on what a “Spirit-filled ministry” looks like. For some, it is proclaimed through the practice of divine healing and supernatural miracles as the Bible is demonstrated. For others, it is proclaimed through the practice of obedience and growth in sanctification as the Bible is taught. One stresses experiential, while the other demands subjectivity. Yet both are required to have a genuine “Spirit-filled ministry.” It is possible to have both and still be biblical, but we must follow the example of Jesus to insure that.

According to Luke 4:14, Jesus returned from his temptation experience “in the power of the Spirit.” What he was teaching (subjective truth) and ministering (experiential truth) caused such a commotion that crowds began to gather wherever he went. Our definitions of “Spirit-filled ministry” are based more often than not in denominationalism rather than the Bible. Luke 4:18-19 gives us a concise, clear, and workable definition of what a “Spirit-filled ministry” looks like. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD.”

A true “Spirit-filled ministry” will always deal with the “poor,” meaning primarily  the “poor in spirit.” The very form of this designation given by Jesus indicates this group was lacking something. These are men and women who are helpless, miserable, helpless, and hopeless. It is more than a condition; it’s an attitude of the soul toward God. It is the utter realization that one has nothing to offer and everything to gain from an encounter with God. Miracles take place in this atmosphere when the impotence of man encounters the magnificent power of God. This “poor” condition aptly describes every person Jesus met.

This “Spirit-filled ministry” also deals with liberation, which is freedom. Just as Jesus encountered the battlefield casualties of creation’s cosmic war, so do we. He saw the spiritual captives that were held at spear point as prisoners of war. He saw the “blind ones” whose prison cells were so deep in darkness that the pupils of their eyes had become darkened by the perpetual smoke of the pit they found themselves shackled in. He saw the “shattered ones” who were broken in so many pieces that wholeness and health for them was not even an option. He saw them, but do we?

Jesus saw and he acted. He liberated the prisoners of war and broke the taunting spear of slavery the enemy was dependent on. He restored the sight of the blind and broke open their prison doors revealing the brightness of his glory. He gently collected the fragile pieces of the shattered and carefully put them back together. He freed them from the crushing weight of sin and sickness. He not only liberated them, he also pardoned them, canceling their debt. Can we do any less?

The lame began to walk. The blind began to dance. The demonized began to worship. The dead began to live. Adulterers, tax collectors, prostitutes, and thieves began to listen to the Word of God and obey it. Miracles, healings, obedience, and growth in godliness began to take place at astounding speed in the most obscure places in Israel. Jesus illustrated a “Spirit-filled ministry” for all to see.

Perhaps we need to stop arguing about how it looks and start doing what Jesus did, the way Jesus did it. Imagine for a moment—if Jesus had argued about it with the religious experts of his day, we would have no example of what it should look like—but he didn’t and we do! Yet, the world is still looking for a viable, continuous example of what a “Spirit-filled ministry” looks like. Perhaps we should follow the example of Jesus and let everyone else argue.