There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding the whole issue of being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is such a vital issue that I want to tackle it now. I believe being filled with the Holy Spirit can make such a difference in the life of the believer.
How is your Christian walk? Be honest. Are you walking in daily victory? Or are you struggling to pray, read your bible or witness? When was the last time you were filled with the Holy Spirit?
Some people believe that we receive all the Holy Spirit’s power we will ever need when we are saved. I do agree that it is only through the work of the Holy Spirit that we are saved, but I believe we also need to be regularly filled with Him. I love this quote from the great preacher Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones:
“There is nothing, I am convinced, that so ‘quenches’ the Spirit as the teaching which identifies the baptism of the Holy Ghost with regeneration. But it is a very commonly held teaching today, indeed it has been the popular view for many years. It is said that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is ‘non experimental’, that it happens to every one at regeneration. So we say, ‘Ah well, I am already baptized with the Spirit; it happened when I was born again, at my conversion; there is nothing for me to seek, I have got it all’. Got it all? Well, if you have ‘got it all’, I simply ask in the Name of God, why are you as you are? If you have ‘got it all’, why are you so unlike the Apostles, why are you so unlike the New Testament Christians?”
We can lose our edge far too quickly because as human beings our vessels are very ‘leaky’. Also it’s so important that we rely on the Holy Spirit for power and ministry in order to avoid complacency, and the temptation to think that within ourselves we have any ability or power to achieve anything.
The Holy Spirit, as you may well know, is a person, the third person of the trinity, God himself. He has inspired the bible and the bible reveals a lot about how God wants to bless, save and empower us as we join in with His mission.
As it is such a huge subject it is difficult to know where to start, but I believe there are a few key points that I want to highlight now.
The Holy Spirit has filled people throughout the bible, but in the Old Testament it was only for certain people at certain times. For instance the judges, such as Gideon and Samson, were anointed with power to deliver the people of Israel when they were being oppressed. But as God’s plan is revealed throughout scripture we can see that His ultimate intention is to fill every believer with the Holy Spirit. We get one of our first clues for God’s plan through numerous Old Testament prophecies:
The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the Lord. “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,” says the Lord (Isaiah 59:20-21).
“And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved...”(Joel 2:28-32)
I hope you can now see that this promise is for you. As we continue to explore scripture let faith arise in your heart that this promise is for you; you are not excluded.
Jesus needed the Holy Spirit
This may come as a shock to some of you. You would assume that as Jesus was God he could operate from his own power, but the bible says that “he emptied himself” (Philippians 2:7). This is very important. Jesus voluntarily became ‘fully man’ setting aside his divinity and limiting himself to become entirely dependant upon the Holy Spirit. That is why we can do the same things that he did. Acts 10:38 says “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”
What are the pre-requisites for receiving the Holy Spirit?
I want to look at one passage from the bible and take three points from it;
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. (John 7:37).
Are you thirsty? – As you have been reading this, have you had more of a thirst for the power of God’s spirit, and a dissatisfaction of how your life is at the moment? Good! Because you need to be in a place where you are earnestly seeking God, not just coming with the attitude of “yeah, why not? I might as well give it a go.” Jesus was very clear in Luke 11:5-13:
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Also in Jeremiah 29:13 it says “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” And Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
I hope you are beginning to get the idea that God wants to satisfy our desire for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. He is freely and readily available.
Come to Jesus
You must never forget that the gift comes from Jesus. Yes, someone else may be laying hands on you and praying for you, but it is the ascended Lord Jesus who gives this precious gift. We should not wait to be prayed for by a certain ‘anointed’ person or ministry. We go to Jesus. John the Baptist said about Jesus in Matthew 3:11 “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit from Jesus because he has been glorified. The first disciples had to wait for Jesus to be glorified, but now he is ascended we no longer have to wait. You can receive the Holy Spirit now!
Receiving the Holy Spirit is not complicated; we are thirsty, we come to Jesus and then we drink, or ‘receive’. We receive by faith. I hope by now that you can see from the scripture passages that this is for you, that God wants to give you His power and is able to do so. Just as Paul asks in Galatians 3:2, ‘Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?’ It’s a bit like going to a cash machine (ATM), knowing you’ve got plenty of money in the bank. You don’t wonder if you’re going to get any money out, in fact if you didn’t get money out you’d be having words with the bank manager!
Before I finish, I just want to include a few thoughts around this whole subject to help us:
- Ephesians 5:18 says “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” The feeling of this is not a ‘once for all’ filling, but rather a ‘continuous’ filling. It also has the feeling of a command.
- Be prepared to be changed when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. He will highlight sins and other things he wants to deal with, in order to make you holy. His mission is to glorify Jesus and He wants to do that in your life.
- It is not necessarily an emotional experience, but you will know when you have been baptised!
- Praying in tongues is a sign that you have been baptised. There is no evidence that I can see in scripture that it is a guaranteed experience for everyone. If you don’t speak in tongues this doesn’t mean you haven’t been baptised in the Holy Spirit. See 1 Corinthians 12:29-30
- Don’t wait until you feel worthy, you never will be!!
I do hope this helps you. My own testimony is that I have received power for ministry and greater love for Jesus when I have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I know you will too.