To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to experience what 120 disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ experienced when “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). This experience is often called the ‘baptism of the Spirit’, because Jesus had described it in the terms of a baptism. So had John the Baptist. As much as three years earlier, John has said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matt. 3:11). Jesus had mentioned it just before He departed and ascended into heaven. “John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:5). This event took place in an upper room and is described in Acts 2: 1-21 as follows:
“And when the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians and Medes, and Elamites and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia. Phrygia, and Pamphylia in Egypt, and in the parts of Lybia about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes. Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and in doubt, saying one to another, What does this mean? Others mocking said, these men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, ‘You men of Judea, and all you that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:’ ‘For these are not drunken as you suppose, seeing that it is but the third hour of the day.’ ‘But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel;’ (Acts 2: 1-16) And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Joel 2: 28-32 & Acts 2: 17 – 21)
Peter then told all the onlookers that if they would repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, every one of them would also receive this same wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
If you have not yet been baptized with the Holy Spirit, this series of articles is written to help you understand what the Scriptures teach on the subject and to encourage you to receive this empowering experience for yourself.
Jesus said in Acts 1:5 that the disciples would be “baptized with the Holy Ghost” and Acts 2:4 states they were filled with the Holy Ghost.” So the terms “baptized” and “filled” are interchangeable. When one is “baptized” with the Spirit he is “filled” with the Spirit, like a cup that is filled to the point of overflowing.
That is the New Testament standard for every Christian believer. God wants each of us to be filled to capacity with His Holy Spirit so that our minds, our affections, our spirits, and our bodies are completely impregnated, possessed, and controlled by Him.
Jesus said, “He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given: because that Jesus was not yet glorified)” (John 7: 38 7 39). Notice how the terms “the Spirit” and the “Holy Ghost” are used synonymously in verse 39. There is no difference between ‘the Holy Spirit’ and ‘the Holy Ghost’. Modern translators prefer the former term simply because it is more understandable and the Greek text makes no distinction. But the point here is, even those who may have considered themselves unimportant, with few talents, can do a significant work for God! Jesus said, “He that believes on me. . .” The weakest, most obscure men and women can have this experience by believing on Jesus. If they believe on Jesus they may receive the Holy Spirit and have “rivers of living water” flowing from within.
Jesus used the word “rivers”. Do not be satisfied with a cupful when the Lord offers rivers. The invitation is, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37). You can have all you want. He gives the Spirit without reservation to those who are thirsty enough to drink, and drink, and keep drinking until they are filled to overflowing.
The Holy Spirit is not merely an influence as some suppose. He is a Person, just as Christ is a Person. The Holy Spirit should never be called “it”. Look at John 16:13
“Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, [that] shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.”
Beyond this, not only is the Holy Spirit a Person, but He is the Third Person of a Triune God along with the Father and His only begotten Son, Jesus. Here’s the proof. You’ve heard of the term “blasphemy”. You know that this act is the speaking sacrilegiously about or against God. Well, did you know that ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the only unforgivable sin? Look at Matthew 12: 31 & 32.
“Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy [against] the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
And whosoever speaks a word against the son of man (Jesus), it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
Power For Witnessing
The great purpose of being baptized with the Holy Spirit was described by the Lord Jesus when He said, “You shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me. . . (Acts 1:8).
One man, after being filled with the Spirit, told what a change came in his life. “Prayer and worship, which before had been so much a matter of effort and duty, now became the breath of life to me.” “Talking about Jesus to others became the most natural thing in the world. Now that He was so wonderfully real to me, it was much easier to make Him real to others.”
This is what the Spirit does. He makes Jesus so real and wonderful. Jesus said, “When He, the Spirit of Truth is come . . . He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” (John 16: 13 & 14)
Another described how his prayer life was revolutionized. “I had been born of the Spirit, but that night I was filled with the Spirit.” “By faith I had known that I was His, but He came in and took possession.” “Up to that moment I had been praying.” “But now, He had come in and was praying through me with a power, a faith, and intensity entirely different and so much more wonderful than my own.” “In experience, I was now the temple of the Holy Ghost.”
Power For Praying
This revolutionary power in prayer is one great reason why we need the Spirit. In Jude 20 we are told to be “praying in the Holy Spirit.” When we are filled with the Spirit we can pray in the Spirit, and God can direct our praying. In ourselves we do not always know what or how to pray. But the Spirit knows, and when He has control of our lives, He is able to pray through us in harmony with the will of God
“Likewise the Spirit also helps ours infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us. . . because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom 8: 26 & 27)
The Spirit would not be given if we did not need Him. The fact is that without His gracious presence and power we cannot serve God effectively. Human strength – whether physical, mental, or moral – is never sufficient to accomplish God’s purpose on earth. We cannot serve God effectively in our own power, and the Lord does not expect us to try. He wants us to be filled with the Holy Spirit so He may do His work through us.
Some seem to view the fullness of the Holy Spirit as a luxury, rather than a necessity. They consider the experience desirable, but optional. The Bible however, makes it mandatory. Jesus commanded His disciples not to depart from Jerusalem until they had been filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1: 4 & 5). Paul used imperative language when he said, “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). It is a command we must obey.