“…And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:31.
“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 13:52.
“Walk in the Spirit.” Gal.5:16.
“Be filled with the Spirit.” Eph.5:18.
The apostle Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23 is undoubtedly one of the greatest prayers in the Bible. It is a prayer for spiritual discovery. It seems as the petition got more profound as the list increased. The last petition in verse 19 was for the believers to experience the power that raised Christ from the dead. It was not only Christ that was raised by this power, but the believer also. Paul states that this power is the same that made the believer alive in Christ. “And you He made alive , who were in trespasses and sins. … Even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Eph. 2:1,5-6.
This power, like electricity, had coursed through the believer while spiritually dead and made him alive in Christ. But now, in his spiritually alive state, Paul prays that the believer might actively experience this power of resurrection. The Bible states that this power is the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom. 8:11. Christ promised this power during his earthly ministry. ”On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.” Jn.7:37-39. Jesus alludes to more than the indwelling of the Spirit, but the fullness. He also states that the condition for obtaining this fullness is “if anyone thirsts.” Although on a few occasions, some people obtained the fullness of the Spirit at the moment of conversion Acts 9:17; 10:44-47; 11:15-17, but the norm has been to ask for it. Lu.11:13; 4:29-31. This sentiment is echoed in the Old Testament. “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground.” Isa.44:3.
1. Not Exclusively A New Testament Phenomenon
The fullness of the Spirit is not exclusive to the New Testament. It is an experience that was well known and experienced by various people in the ancient Biblical times. Bezalel Exo.31:1-3; Prophet Micah, Mic.3:8; Samson, Judg.14:19; King Saul, 1 Sam.10:10. Although there was no permanent indwelling of the Spirit before the day of Pentecost, different people in both the Old and New Testament had empowerment of the Spirit in order to accomplish various tasks. Also, before the day of Pentecost, each of the following characters was filled with the Spirit. John the Baptist, Jn.1:15; Mary, the mother of Jesus, Lu.1:35; Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, Lu.1:41; Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist,1:67; Simeon, Lu. 2:25. Jesus Himself was filled with the Spirit for His earthly ministry. Lu.3:21-22; 4:1,18-19; Acts 10:38.
2. Two Aspects Of Filling
There are two aspects of filling that are described in the Scriptures. This applies also to those in the Old Testament. The first could be described as God sovereignly intervening and filling someone with the Spirit for a special task. Examples of this are Bezalel, Samson, King Saul, Elizabeth, Zacharias, the apostles, Acts 2:4, Paul, Acts 9:17. The second aspect is when the Spirit has a pervasive influence and control of a believer’s life . The believer lives in an abiding state of the fullness of the Spirit rather than a peremptory and temporary in-filling. This second aspect describes a life that is totally surrendered to the Holy Spirit and lived in His power daily. Examples of this are, Jesus Himself, Lu.4:1, the seven deacons, Acts 6:3,5;7:55; Barnabas, Acts 11:22-24. There seems to be no better illustration of this than the seven deacons whose spiritual characteristics are described in Acts 6:3. “Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known (emphasis mine) to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.” NIV. This verse makes it clear that there was a distinction between the seven deacons and all the other men of the Hellenistic stock. Further, Paul makes the same assumption when he commands, ”Be filled with the Spirit.” Eph 5:18.
3. It Is The Required Life
It is so sad that in spite of the above truth, many believers today are comparable to the disciples of John the Baptist whom Paul met in Ephesus. And when he asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” replied, “We have not so much heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Acts 19:1-2. In a previous pastoral Letter (October 2021) I told a similar story of a Bible college student who did not know that there is a difference between indwelling of the Spirit and the fullness of the Spirit. It is extremely appalling that this gaping ignorance exists among believers despite the fact that the Spirit-filled life is the life that God intends for all believers. The fullness of the Spirit is the normal Christian life. Jesus alluded to it when he stated, “I have come that they may have life ,and that they may have it more abundantly.” Jn.10:10. It is undoubtedly in agreement with this that Paul admonishes, “Be filled with the Spirit.” Eph.5:18. “Walk in the Spirit.” Gal.5:16. Evangelist Billy Graham gives this compelling elucidation, “All Christians are committed to be filled with the Spirit. Anything short of a Spirit-filled life is less than God’s plan for each believer.”
4. The Benefits Of Obtaining This Power
There are manifold blessings associated with obtaining the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit. But due to the constraint of space, only a few will be highlighted.
- The believer is equipped to live a victorious life. Rom.8:1-11; Gal.5:16-18.
- The believer is empowered for victorious service.Lu.24:49; Acts 1:5,8; 4:29-31.
- The believer is enriched for fruitfulness. Jn.7:37-39; 15:5; Gal.5:22-25.
Charles Spurgeon, the famous British pastor elaborates in these words. “But to Christians the instruction comes, ‘be filled with the Spirit,’ for the Spirit of God can give you strength to the highest degree. He can gird you with spiritual strength-the strength of faith…He can give you strength that wrestles in prayer… The Spirit of God gives the strength to suffer and the strength to labor, to receive, and to hope, love, and to conquer temptation, to perform holy action. When you are filled with the Spirit, how strong you are.”
Jesus knew that His followers would need this power, hence He exhorted them to wait for this power before embarking on their worldwide evangelization mission. “Behold, I send the Promise of My father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Lu.24:49. Cf. also Acts 1:4-5.
Spurgeon adds this insightful comment. ”Whether you are a preacher or teacher or parent or someone who is in the service of God in your ordinary labor, if you want strength with which to bring glory to the Most High, be filled with the Spirit.”
5. How To Obtain This Power?
The formula has been variously presented in different numbers of steps and many times by synonymous titles. However, there are unquestionable unvarying steps that lead to obtaining the fullness of the Spirit. Some of them have been mentioned or alluded to earlier. The believer who wants to obtain this power must follow these steps.
- Desire, thirst, aspire for it. Ps.42:1-2; 63:1-2; Isa.44:3;Jn.7:37-39.
- Confession of all known sins. Ps.66:18; Pro.28:9,13; Isa. 59:1-2; Jas.4:2.
- Ask for it. Jas.4:2; Lu.11:13; Acts 4:29-31.
- A surrendered life. Rom.6:12-13; 12:1-2.
1 Tim. 1:17. Now unto the King Eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen
A fuller discussion of the above segment is presented in the Pastoral Letter dated October 3,2021 titled Revival And The Life Of The Spirit referred to earlier. That Pastoral Letter and this one supplements each other.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.2x
Break me, melt me, mold me, fill me and use me.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.
Author Daniel Iverson.