The subject of the ‘filling of the Holy Spirit’ is one of the most contentious subjects in Christian circles.
Having been in churches from both sides of the argument and the ones in-between I decided to find some solutions within the Bible!
The first aspect we will look at is that being filled with the Spirit is transforming and yet nothing is added because in Christ we have been given every spiritual blessing…
Table of Contents for: Be filled with the Spirit – transforming but nothing added
- Table of Contents for: Be filled with the Spirit – transforming but nothing added
Many people see the filling of the Holy Spirit is what happens when someone receives salvation.
But this implies that the followers of Jesus were not saved until the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came on them.
Obviously when we look at the disciples in the Gospels, especially Peter, we see that their faith went up and down, but overall they believed in Jesus before Pentecost.
So the filling of the Holy Spirit can happen at the point of salvation (believers obviously have the Holy Spirit at that point) but it is something that comes after salvation, and is in addition to salvation.
For more info on this see: How do we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?
For many the work of the Holy Spirit is an invisible work, something which doesn’t break into our tangible lives.
The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit does indeed work in the invisible realms, but he also breaks through into our more physical world.
So some would answer the question: ‘Can we experience the Holy Spirit’ with a definite ‘Yes!’
Experience the Holy Spirit, not just reckoned
Jesus gave His followers the instruction to wait until the Holy Spirit had come upon them.
So did Jesus’ followers experience the Holy Spirit, was it something tangible?
If this was an event which they were just to ‘reckon’ as having happened, there would have been confusion as to how long they should wait!
But Jesus said ‘wait until’ so when the Holy Spirit came they knew that He had filled them, and they could experience the Holy Spirit and His power.
Others can see when we are filled with the Holy Spirit
I expect most of us have known someone who had a depth, a reality in their lives and a power, and then we find out that they are a Christian.
They are a follower of Jesus who have the Holy Spirit working in and through their lives.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is something that others were aware of. Peter said:
As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as He had come on us at the beginning.Acts 11:15-17
Then I remembered what the Lord had said,
‘John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’
So if God gave them the same gift as He gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God!”
Peter knew that the gentiles had received the Spirit.
It wasn’t something that they had to ‘reckon’ as just happening.
Here are some other Scriptures which show that receiving the Spirit is something definite :
When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the Apostles hands..”Acts 8:18
God .. has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”2 Corinthians 5:5
Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance”Ephesians 1:13-14
When something is given as a guarantee it is a tangible thing, or something known, otherwise it can’t be a guarantee.
Paul looked back at a memorable event for the Galation Christians:
Did you receive the Spirit by observing the Law, or by believing what you heard?”Galations 3:2
The filling of the Holy Spirit is an experience and is felt and is a blessing.
Are we filled with the Spirit?
I’ve known people who obviously were filled with the Spirit (that is; the Holy Spirit) and yet they would not use the terminology: “filled with the Spirit”.
I’ve seen some who can put tremendous pressure on others to get them ‘filled with the Spirit’ and I have personally felt that intense scenario of being trapped in a corner.
It was something, in their minds, that should happen right NOW!
It all seemed to be really contrived.
Then there are other church-goers who seemed to be not at all Spirit filled!
What we need is a Biblical view on being filled with the Spirit:
Christians are God’s ‘son’
It is easy to feel inferior when some Christians believe that they have been baptised with the Holy Spirit and others don’t feel that.
But it is important to remember that nothing can be added to our salvation.
Why do I say that?
Well I’ll answer that by asking another question:
Why is the Holy Spirit given? The answer is found in this verse:
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”Galations 4:6
The term: ‘Because you are sons’ includes ladies in Jesus’ Kingdom. The firstborn Hebrew son is an important concept in Judaism, for one they are allocated a double portion of the inheritance! [i]
1 Chronicles 5:1-2 where, although the tribe of Judah prevailed above their brethren, nevertheless the birth-right, the double portion of two tribal allotments, was Joseph’s.‘Firstborn (Judaism)’ Wikipedia [ii]
According to the Law of Moses, the firstborn may be either the firstborn of his father, who is entitled to receive a double portion of his father’s inheritance (compared to the other siblings), (Deuteronomy 21:17) or the firstborn of his mother.”
So nothing can be added to our salvation, because the result of salvation is becoming God’s son and you can’t get more than that!
We are brought into His family and because of this, God sends His Spirit into our heart.
Being filled with the Spirit is a transforming event
But why are some Christians aware of a filling of the Holy Spirit, and others aren’t?
Surely this is a transforming event?
If we know that we are forgiven and are trusting Jesus to save us, but we haven’t had any awareness of being filled, then the problem is generally down to us not knowing spiritual truth.
All spiritual blessings are given objectively and in principle at conversion.
Everyone who is converted (or saved, or born again, whatever the terminology) will be given all the spiritual blessings of being a child of God the Father.
But we only realise this in our experience when the Spirit is poured out.
The disciples as an example of being filled with the Holy Spirit
The disciples believed in Jesus before the day of Pentecost, but when the Spirit was poured out they were made aware of their sonship, they received God’s seal of ownership and they became more unmoveable in their faith.
But nothing had changed their salvation, they believed in Jesus and were saved before Pentecost, now after Pentecost they still believed in Jesus and were still saved.
For many Christians the presence of the Spirit within them is hidden, but that does not mean that the Spirit is not there.
It is when we consciously receive the Spirit that we become aware of His workings, His various gifts and His power.
Objectively and in principle all Christians are ‘in Christ’ and have all that there is in Christ, but in practice and in their experience, some Christians are unaware of the Holy Spirit.
Nothing is added to our salvation when filled with the Holy Spirit and yet it is a transforming event.
I started on my Faith Journey in 1976 whilst on my sandwich year from college.
Since then I’ve not been restrained to any one denomination – believing that local Church is always important. Through career moves and life changes this has enabled me to play a part in the Assembly of God Church, Elim, various New Church Groupings, Brethren, Anglican and Baptist Churches.
I am married to Jackie and we live in Cambridgeshire in the UK.