Friday, December 10, 2004

The Inebriating Rivers of the Holy Spirit

Doing research for a new book (Miracles and Manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the History of the Church), I came across this item, a commentary by Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers (AD 315-367) on Psalm 64 concerning the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 65:9,10 “Inebriate its rivers, multiply its generations. He will rejoice in its misty rain, when it arises.” [Hilary is obviously working from a Latin translation.]

Hilary’s comments: “The Holy Spirit is called a river. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we are made drunk. Because out of us, as a source, various streams of grace flow, the prophet prays that the lord will inebriate us. The prophet wants the same persons to be made drunk, and filled to all fullness with the divine gifts, so that their generations may be multiplied…. We begin to have insight into the mysteries of faith, we are able to prophesy and to speak with wisdom. We become steadfast in hope and receive gifts (plural) of healing. Demons are made subject to our authority.”

[Kilian McDonnell and George T. Montague, Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Evidence from the First Eight Centuries. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical 1994, Second, Revised Edition, pp. 183-4. Citing Hilary, Tract on the Psalms, 64:14; CSEL (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum) 22.246.]
However well Hilary may have captured the essence of this psalm passage, he gives us an interesting insight into the mind of the fourth-century Church: There is a fullness, an inebriation of the Spirit that brings forth words of wisdom, words of prophecy, a boldness of faith, gifts of healing and authority over the demonic. Hilary speaks of them as being fully present in his day.

Jesus promised the disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). On the day that happened, the Spirit-filled disciples were mistaken for drunken wine-bibbers, so much so that when Peter rose up to speak, he began, “These are not drunk, as you suppose… but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:15-16).

Paul also knew of this Holy Spirit inebriation: “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Being filled with the Spirit is very different from being filled with wine. The filling of wine leads to wasteful strife. But the filling of the Spirit leads to fellowship and unity — singing to each other with Spirit-led psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord, giving thanks always to Him, and submitting to one another (Ephesians 5:19-21).

These are the Rivers of Living Waters. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). John notes for us that Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit (v. 39).

Step into the flow of the river of God and let the inebriation of the Holy Spirit come upon you. Become drunk in Him, letting Him direct you in all you say and do. Care not for you own will and ways, your own strength and gifts, your own understanding. Yield yourself, and control of yourself, to the Holy Spirit of God. Let His River flow through you.