Study 8 LUKE 11:13 – THEN AND NOW!
TWELVE OF MY FAVOURITE BIBLICAL THEMES
by Francis Dixon
Study verses: Luke 11:1-13
There are some statements in scripture which need very careful exposition. This is especially true of many scriptures relating to the Holy Spirit’s ministry. One reason for much confusion about the Person and work of the Holy Spirit is that verses and statements are taken out of context and out of their dispensational settings. One illustration is connected with Luke 11:13. These words were spoken by our Lord before Pentecost. We who live after Pentecost do not need, nor should we pray for, the indwelling, the incoming of the Holy Spirit, because if we are true believers He has come in and He lives in our hearts (John 14:16-17). Dr Scofield is right when he says in his Notes: “For us today to go back to Luke 11:13 is to ignore the truth that now the Holy Spirit indwells every believer… It is to ignore Pentecost.” This is true. We do not have to ask for His indwelling because He indwells every believer (Romans 8:10; 1 Corinthians 6:19). Every believer has been born of the Spirit (John 3:5); has been baptised into the body of Christ by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13); is sealed with the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). If we have trusted Christ as our Saviour we do not have to ask for the Holy Spirit to come into our lives, but we do need to pray and wait upon God to receive the filling and empowering of the Holy Spirit, to enable us to live a normal Christian life and be equipped to serve God effectively. With this in mind, let’s notice the sequence of truth in Luke 11:13.
1. The promise of Luke 11:13 was made by the Lord Jesus Himself
He was the One who said - Luke 11:13! and we need to link up these words with what He had previously said in verses 9 and 10. It is important to do this, because He gave this wonderful promise to His disciples to assure them concerning God’s willingness to hear and answer prayer.
2. This promise is made to all the children of God
It is important to notice this. This promise is not made to the unsaved but to those who know God as their “Father in heaven”. Notice also in verse 9 that the Lord begins by saying, ”So I say to you…” It is obvious that the promise is made to Christians, to those who through faith in Jesus Christ have been born into God’s family - look up John 1:12-14.
3. The promise assures us that God longs to give to His children the full blessing of the Holy Spirit, so that He may fill us and empower us.
Notice the words in Luke 11:13 – “how much more”. Earthly parents love to give good gifts to their children. How much more God loves to give good gifts to us! Notice the promise in Psalm 81:10, and compare Ephesians 3:16-21.
4. Our Lord’s promise assures us that our part is to wait upon God in prayer
The one condition which has to be made on our side is that of asking. Why are we to pray, to ask, and how are we to ask? Consider the following:
- 1. Asking is an admission of need. When we ask for something it is like saying that we do not have it, and we need it. We do not ask if we are not conscious of our need. Put this to the test with the following scriptures: (1) When you read Acts 1:8, you will want to say, ‘Lord, that’s my need!’ (2) When you read Acts 2:4, you will want to say, ‘Lord, I need that!’ (3) When you read Ephesians 5:18, you will want to say, ’Yes, Lord, I need to be filled!’ You see, asking is an admission of need.
- 2. Asking is an evidence of faith. Why do we ask? Because we read the Lord’s promise and believe it. We read, for example, what He said in verses 9 and 13 in this passage, and we believe what He said; therefore we come in simple faith and say, ‘Lord, give me this which I pray for!’
- 3. Asking means a willingness to receive. When we ask, we do not try to get God to give what He was previously unwilling to give; or, as someone has said, we do not have to twist God’s arm to make Him more willing to give. When we ask, we are waiting before God, ready for Him to do His will in us, and His will in this particular matter is to fill and empower us with the Holy Spirit. So our prayer is a prayer of faith accompanied by a prayer that He will increase our capacity to receive.
- 4. Asking is a guarantee of the answer to our prayer. What greater guarantee could we wish for than that which is declared to us in the promises of Jesus Himself in verses 9-12 and in verse 13? - look up and compare 1 John 5:14-15.
- 5. We must go on asking so that we may go on receiving. In Luke 11:5-8 we have the case of the demanding friend who would not be silenced; he simply went on asking. In the same way we need to continue to ask, not because God does not give, but because we are in constant need of fresh filling and of new supplies of His grace and power. As God goes on giving we must go on receiving, for there is no such thing as a once-and-for-all fullness of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). It is interesting to note in this connection that in the Amplified Bible Luke 11:13 reads: “How much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!”
The Lord Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit as He commenced His public ministry (Matthew 3:16); the early Christians were empowered before they began witnessing (Acts 2:4); Peter and John, as they stood before the authorities, were filled afresh with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8); Saul of Tarsus, at the commencement of his Christian life and ministry, was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17) - and the Lord’s word to us is Luke 11:13!