About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Filled with The Spirit


My goal in this article is to define the term "filled with the Holy Spirit," show other synonymous terms, and, demonstrate from the book of Acts (NIV 1984 edition) that being filled with the Spirit is always for a specific purpose.  It has nothing to do with a Holy Spirit induced high, as if He is the euphoric drug of choice for Christians.      


As a presupposition to the following, there is more to the Holy Spirit than one body can contain as seen when Jesus was water baptized.  When Jesus rose from the water the Holy Spirit "descended upon" Him (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22) or "came down upon" Him (John 1:32).  Knowing that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9, 1 Peter1:11) Jesus' Spirit, who resided in Him, also came upon Him.  As Christians, we can have the Holy Spirit within us and yet have Him come upon us simultaneously.      


There are a few terms found in the book of Acts that are synonymous with the term "filled with the Spirit."  They are; baptized or immersed in the Spirit, and, having the Spirit come upon or poured out on someone.  I define these terms as one being overwhelmed or enveloped by the Holy Spirit, and thus, influenced by Him to accomplish God's specific goal at any given time.     


In Acts 1 Jesus predicted that the disciples would receive the promised gift of the Father (the Holy Spirit) by means of being "baptized" or immersed into the Spirit (Acts 1:4 - 8).  This was realized on the Day of Pentecost where Luke records the disciples being "filled with the Spirit" (Acts 2:4).  Note the word "baptized" that Jesus used and the word "filled" that Luke used were in reference to the same event, which was the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit into their lives.  These disciples received the Spirit by means of being baptized or filled with Him for the precise purpose of being effective witnesses for Jesus (Acts 1:8).  This was seen when three thousand people came to Jesus because of Peter's Holy Spirit inspired preaching (Acts 2:41).     


The same Peter who was baptized or filled with the Spirit in Acts 2 was "filled" with the Spirit again in Acts 4:8 for the precise purpose of speaking boldly to a hostile Sanhedrin.  Others, who were "baptized or filled" with the Spirit in Acts 2 were also filled again in Acts 4 so that they too could speak boldly (Acts 4:31).       


Acts 6:3 states that seven men who were "full of the Spirit" were appointed to distribute food to the poor.  Even this manual task required men who exhibited a life of being influenced by the Spirit's empowerment.   


Stephen was "filled with the Spirit" as he was being stoned to death (Acts 7:55).  His execution was his greatest witness for Jesus.      


Acts 8 tells us that Philip led a number of Samaritans to faith in Jesus, which included them being water baptized, but, they did not receive the Holy Spirit when they first believed.  It was only at a later date when Peter and John laid hands on them that they received the Spirit when He "came on them" (Acts 8:15 -16).  In this instance, the filling of the Spirit was in fact the reception of the Spirit into their lives, resulting in them being born again.


In Acts 9:17 Ananias prayed for Paul so his blind eyes could see and so he could be "filled with the Spirit."  I believe Paul received the Holy Spirit into his life when he was filled with the Spirit.  He too was born again.   


Acts 10:44 states that while Peter was preaching to some Gentiles, the Spirit "came on" these Gentiles, and as a result, they were instantaneously saved.      


Certain disciples were "filled with joy and the Holy Spirit" as seen in Acts 13:52.  This was in contrast to the Jewish leaders being "filled with," or overcome with, jealousy (Acts 13:45).  This filling enabled these believers to maintain their joy and stand strong through adversity and beyond, when the persecution subsided.          


In Acts 19 Paul met some men who had heard John the Baptist's preaching of the soon-coming Christ.  They did not know that Jesus had already come, gone, and left His Spirit in His place. When Paul explained this he laid hands on these men and the Holy Spirit "came on" them (Acts 19:6).  Their salvation was sealed, something Paul taught about in Ephesians 1:13. 


A detailed study of being filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts shows that it is synonymous with being baptized in the Spirit and having the Spirit poured out or come upon you.  Such a study also demonstrates that being filled with the Spirit means being overwhelmed by Him, and thus, influenced by Him in such a way that He enables you to accomplish God's will in your life.    


This I know for sure: the Holy Spirit is not the Christian's drug of choice that it appears some seek at an altar of prayer.  If you claim to have been filled with the Spirit, and if that filling has not accomplished God's intended goal, then I suggest, God has either wasted His time filling you, or you were not genuinely filled with the Spirit.  It's that simple.         


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