Drenched with the Spirit….Singing in the Rain

John Piper, in a sermon from Isaiah 44:1-5,  “A Precious Promise: The Outpouring of God’s Spirit”

rainGod promised in the eighth century BC that a day was coming when he would fill his upright servants with himself. The idea of pouring is the idea of copiousness. When we say, “It’s pouring outside,” we mean something more than, “It’s drizzling, or misting, or dripping.” We mean, “If you go out, you’ll get drenched.” So God’s pouring corresponds to our being drenched or soaked or filled. In other words, God promises a day when his people, his servants, will be drenched with the Spirit.

I would argue that ever since the day of Pentecost, when this prophecy (as well as Joel 2:28, Ezekiel 39:29, and Zechariah 12:10) received its inaugural fulfillment, it has been a Christian duty to delight to seek and maintain the fullness of God’s Spirit. Ever since Peter claimed in Acts 2:16–17 that the last days of outpouring had begun, none of us who reads this promise in Isaiah 44 should be content until we are drenched with the Holy Spirit.

What Does the Outpouring of the Spirit Accomplish?

What will that mean according to Isaiah?

1. Our Fears Are Taken Away

First, it will mean that our fears will be taken away. Verse 2: “Fear not, O Jacob, my servant.” The Spirit of God is God. When he is poured out upon you, you are safe! Not safe from trouble, but safe from everything that God Almighty knows is not good for you. When we are drenched with the Spirit, we are drenched with the assurance that Mondays are made in heaven just like Fridays. Whatever seems fearful tomorrow does not need to be fearful if you are filled with the Spirit. Relations at home may be tense, health may be deteriorating, the boss may be planning your dismissal, tomorrow may bring a very threatening confrontation—whatever is making you anxious about tomorrow, open your heart to the outpouring of God’s Spirit; look to his word of promise and he will fill you with hope and conquer your fear.

2. Our Longing for God Is Satisfied

Verse 3 describes the effect of the outpouring in another way. “I will pour water on the thirsty (land).” The word “land” is not in the original (KJV, “I will pour water on him that is thirsty”). I take this to mean that when the Holy Spirit is poured out, not only are fears removed but longings are satisfied. The soul’s thirst for God is quenched—or at least we taste enough satisfaction in him to know where to spend the rest of our life drinking.

Our future can look bleak for two reasons: one is the prospect that misery is coming; the other is the prospect that happiness is not coming. And isn’t virtually all the work of the human heart exhausted by these two things: fearing future misery and thirsting for future happiness? If so, then Isaiah’s promise is just what we need: when the Spirit is poured out into our heart, fear is taken away and thirst is satisfied. Or to put it another way, if the Spirit has taken away what is fearful out of our future and put what is soul-satisfying into our future, then he has given to us the full assurance of hope. And we begin to see the ancient roots of Romans 15:13: “By the power of the Holy Spirit we abound in hope.”

3. We Will Always Flourish

weeping-willowVerse 4 describes yet another effect of the outpouring of the Spirit. Those who experience it “will spring up among grass like willows by flowing streams.” Doesn’t this imply that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is not supposed to be a one-time thing or a sporadic thing, but instead should be continual? We should drink up the Holy Spirit the way a tree by the stream continually drinks up water. In your life right now you might be surrounded by desert, but if your roots go down by the stream of the Spirit, you will always flourish. If you draw on his life, you will never thirst. The assurance of hope will give rise to the flourishing of joy.

4. We Will Overflow in Love

But what about the spillover of love? Does Isaiah promise that, too? Isaiah 58:11 shows that he does: “The Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” There it is. The final promise is that we will be springs, not sponges. The human heart cannot be satisfied until it becomes a spring from which others can drink. Hope we must have! Joy we must have! But the goal of our quest is reached when our joy in God spills over in love to others for the glory of God.

Pour the Word into Your Mind and Heart

It’s not an accident that in Psalm 1 the tree planted by streams of water that brings forth fruit for others is a picture of the person who meditates on the Word of God day and night, while the tree planted by streams of water in Isaiah 44 is a picture of the person who has experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It’s not an accident because the Spirit of God does not produce hope apart from the Word of God; and the Word of God does not produce hope apart from the Spirit of God. But the Spirit through the Word, and the Word by the Spirit, takes away fear, nourishes hope, fills with joy, overflows in love, and glorifies God. That’s what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Therefore the way to experience the outpouring of the Spirit is to pour the Word of the Spirit into your mind and heart every day and believe it.

I urge you in the name of Jesus Christ, if you long for the touch of the Spirit of God upon your life, give yourself day and night to the reading of his Word.

To read the rest of Piper’s sermon, click here: