Are You Filled With The Holy Spirit?

Written By: John - Jun• 13•13

My study of John 14 has led me to some rather deep waters in terms of the work of the Holy Spirit.  Outside of the commentaries I’ve used throughout the series I have poured myself into three books—JI Packer’s Keep In Step With The Spirit, Sinclair Ferguson’s The Holy Spirit, and John Owen’s work, The Holy Spirit.  If you are interested in a deeper understanding of the Third Person of the Trinity I would highly recommend all three books.

Throughout my life I’ve heard a lot of things about the Holy Spirit, the filling of the Holy Spirit, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  I don’t have the time or the space to deal with all three of those things, but I do want to talk about the filling of the Holy Spirit for a moment.

When you study the events of Pentecost and the life of the early church in the rest of the New Testament you find that “the expectation that the Spirit’s full ministry to Christians would begin at conversion…”  JI Packer said, “We may confidently say that since nine o’clock on that momentous morning the Holy Spirit has been active to fulfill in one way or another to all Jesus’ followers the full ministry that Jesus foretold in John 14-16 and that the whole New Testament celebrates; and so He is today.”  (page 75)

In Romans 8:9 we are clearly told that if we do not have the Holy Spirit we are not saved.  He indwells everyone the moment they are born again and that is always true of all followers of Jesus Christ.  The only reason that we find the early disciples experiencing a two stage filling is that they were believers before the day of Pentecost and that situation will never again be repeated.   There are a few other two-stage fillings in the book of Acts, but notice that they were a part of the Gospel spreading to the nations and that after that event we do not find it happening again.

I find it extremely interesting that on the day of Pentecost the disciples, who were filled with the Spirit, preached to the nations.  Luke said they asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?”  Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Luke went on to say, “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”  The crowd believed in Jesus and the Spirit indwelled them.  That is the NT pattern for all believers.

Packer said, “A person receives the Spirit by receiving Christ, not in any other way, and the idea that one can have the Spirit and be ‘spiritual’ apart from personal encounter with the risen Lord is a damaging error.”  He went on to say, “No, the question we should ask instead, both of ourselves and of each other, is, ‘Does the Holy Spirit have you?’  Does He have all of you are only some parts of you?…” (pages 77-78)

Throughout the book of Acts the primary evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit was a bold witness for Christ. Many will tell you that the evidence of being filled is speaking in tongues, but that is not based on the teaching of God’s Word.  Look at the day of Pentecost…it is true that the disciples “were filled with the Spirit and began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance,” but we are never told that the crowd spoke in tongues.  We are simply told that the Holy Spirit gave the disciples the gift of tongues, which was a language gift and not an ecstatic utterance gift, and the people heard them in their own language.   I think the miracle was the hearing more than the speaking, but let’s consider the rest of the book of Acts.

Do you know how many times we find people speaking in tongues outside of Acts 2?  If you listen to some people you would think it would be throughout the entire book, but we find it exactly two more times.  In Acts 10:46 when the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles and in Acts 19:6 when Paul met the disciples of John who had believed John’s message, but had not heard of the Holy Spirit.  Outside of 1 Corinthians 13 and 14 that is all that we hear of the gift of tongues and I do not think anyone would set the Corinthians as the ideal church model.

I’m not trying to build a case for the existence of tongues or the cessation of tongues in this blog.  Many godly men have differing opinions on that subject but I do want to make a clear case for this one thing—the Holy Spirit indwells you the moment you are saved and the filling of the Holy Spirit is not you getting more of Him; rather, it is the Holy Spirit getting more of you as you repent of your sin and learn to walk in obedience.

So I would ask you—does the Holy Spirit have all of you?  Are you walking in Him or in the flesh?  The Spirit who indwells us transforms us and we will see more about that this Sunday.  I hope you’ll join us as we continue to make our way through John’s Gospel.

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