FILL'ER UP, The Holy Spirit At Work.....
Years ago when “full service” was available at filling stations, you could pull up to a pump, sit in your car and just say, “Fill’er up.” You’d get your tank filled, your windshield washed, and if requested, your oil and tires checked. Those were the “good old days!”
In the late 60’s through early 80’s there were a number of “full service” churches and prayer groups where you could go and ask for a “fill up” (the baptism in the Holy Spirit) and get it! Those were the “good old days!”
Prayerful believers would clean your spiritual “windshield” (share the truth) and top off your “oil” (anoint and pray for you).
The Holy Spirit was putting in overtime for a few years and hundreds of people in this area were “filled” with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit at Work
The New Testament starts out emphasizing the work of the Holy Spirit. First we find that Jesus was uniquely conceived through an act of the Holy Spirit: When Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel, he said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1: 35).
When around 30, Jesus set out on his mission to bring salvation to mankind. On the day his work officially began, he went out to where John was baptizing and submitted to his baptism as an act of obedience and consecration.
While standing in the River Jordan praying, “Heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove” (Luke 3: 22).
The Holy Spirit entered Jesus and his “Spirit-filled” ministry of signs, wonders and miracles suddenly began. The Spirit empowered him to preach, teach, and endure all that he would have to suffer for God’s sake and the salvation of mankind.
The Holy Spirit was absolutely crucial in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ! The Holy Spirit administered the work and will of God through him! Jesus said things like: “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me” (John 7: 16). And, he said, “I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it… So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (John 12: 49, 50).
Thirty to thirty-five years ago when the Holy Spirit was moving so powerfully in our area, thousands received the Holy Spirit in a very short time.
We were calling the experience “being baptized in the Holy Spirit.” In the gospels John the Baptist called the experience being “baptized with the Holy Spirit,” then added, “and with fire” (Matthew 3: 11).
In Acts, Jesus, after his resurrection, asked the disciples to stay in Jerusalem and “wait for the gift my Father promised” (1: 4). For in a few days “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (1: 5).
In each quote, Bible translators permitted the preposition “in” as an alternative to “with.” Therefore, the statements could be read accurately as, “baptized in,” or “baptized with,” the Holy Spirit.
In Acts, which chronicles the practices of the nascent church, however, neither statement is used for the experience we’re discussing. For instance, it says, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues” (Acts 2: 4).
It also says, “When (Peter and John) arrived they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. Then (they) placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8: 15, 17).
And it further says, “The Holy Spirit came on all who heard (Peter’s) message.” Then in validation of their experience it says, “For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God” (Acts 10: 44, 46).
Is the Gift of Tongues Important?
The apostles considered “tongues” as the unmistakable evidence that a person had received the Holy Spirit. [However, if “tongues” is the only proof, that in itself is not sufficient evidence of a legitimate experience.
The author of Acts offers more support, saying, “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19: 6).
All these scriptures refer to the initial experience of believers receiving the Holy Spirit. Or as we’ve already said, some may refer to it as being filled with the Holy Spirit, or of the Holy Spirit coming on them.
And in three of the four biblical examples of reception, the recipients spoke in tongues as evidence of them having received the Holy Spirit. [I didn’t write the scriptures; I just read and share them.]
In my case, I received the Holy Spirit in 1978, and I “unintentionally” spoke in tongues. I say that, because I never wanted to, and I never expected to. In fact, I fought it, believing it to be a “bunch of nonsense.” Thankfully, God forgave my ignorance!
More significant than tongues, I was so full of Christ’s love I could hardly contain it! I was filled with inexhaustible energy and flooded in incomprehensible light. I was suddenly able to see into the spiritual realm! My mind was awakened to a new depth of knowledge.
That, in a few words, was my initial experience. I wish I had the space to go into it deeper, because there was a lot more to it than I’ve said.
I’m still full of the Holy Spirit. But the newness and freshness, the immediate emotion and energy I experienced, have now grown into a confident awareness of the Spirit’s uninterrupted presence! I live with, and have been transformed by, having received the Holy Spirit. The emotional “high” has become dependable substance – a Spirit-filled way of life!
I still have supernatural experiences and am able to flow in the Spirit and exercise spiritual gifts as God chooses to use me. But the spiritual “rush” comes and goes as I have new experiences in the Spirit.
I’d Like a Refill Please
I was talking with a precious Christian sister the other day: She made the comment that she has been feeling dry, unmotivated, and more or less spiritually empty.
She looked at me and asked very seriously, “Can we be refilled with the Holy Spirit?”
(I knew she meant, “Can we experience again the wonderful spiritual ‘high’ we felt when initially receiving the Holy Spirit?”)
“No,” I said, “we can only be baptized in the Holy Spirit once.”
“Well,” she said, “can we be filled up again?”
“Yes.” I answered, “It’s like a glass of liquid left open to the air; over time it will lose some of its volume through evaporation. Likewise, over time, the energy and euphoria experienced when we first received the Holy Spirit, seems to lose some of its volume and energy through spiritual ‘evaporation’.”
“That makes sense,” she said.
I continued: “Although we can’t receive the Holy Spirit all over again, God will gladly add more to what we already have! If our glass is half empty, ask him to finish filling it, and he will gladly pour us full to over-flowing time after time!”
We can Always Receive More of the Spirit
Asking for more of the Spirit must be preceded by a growing hunger for deeper, more intimate fellowship with the Spirit. We must support our asking for more, by sincerely and practically pursuing more. And of course, we must demonstrate our commitment to living a Christ-centered life.
The mistake made by many is asking prematurely, before making any real commitment or devoting any extra effort to living in obedience with God’s will.
There’s much evidence that we can always receive more of the Holy Spirit; for instance, there’s this biblical account: Peter and John had healed a crippled beggar. That provided a catalyst for them to preach to large numbers of Jews about Jesus Christ and the salvation he offered them.
They were so public and so bold that it stirred up their persecutors. So they were seized and thrown in jail. The next day they were brought before the religious rulers, elders and teachers in Jerusalem to be interrogated.
When asked by what name or authority they were ministering, it says, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them… [and he offered his defense (Acts 4: 8ff)]
At this point, the Jewish leaders would loved to have killed them, but because of the large number of people embracing what Peter and John had said and were doing, they were afraid to harm them.
But the Jews leaders did command them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus ever again.
But Peter and John rebuffed them by saying they had no choice but to obey God and speak about what they had seen and heard. The Sanhedrin once again warned them of severe consequences if they did not desist.
Peter and John went back to their church family and reported what had just happened. The church fellowship began crying out to the Lord in thanksgiving and in petition:
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out you hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly (Acts 4: 29-31).
Many times throughout the Book of Acts we find that those who were ministering were “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Each time it implied “additional,” more of what they already possessed – greater support of the Spirit!
For many efforts and struggles more of the Spirit’s presence and power are needed. Stephen was full of the Spirit: They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit… (Acts 6: 5).
But Stephen would need more of the Spirit’s help later: When Stephen was being stoned to death for his faith and bold witness for Jesus Christ, he was able to pray in the power of the Holy Spirit: Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7: 55).
When zealous Saul of Tarsus, on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, met the post- resurrection Jesus, he was blinded by the glory of his presence. But God sent Ananias to him with a word and a prayer. Ananias said to blind Saul: “Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9: 17).
The hardened enemy of the cross was gloriously saved! He did a 180-degree change of direction to become one of the most powerful missionary evangelists in Christian history. As a Roman citizen, as well as a Jew, he was known to Gentiles as Paul [the Greek equivalent of Saul], and gained a reputation as an indefatigable missionary evangelist and church planter.
Have a Large Spirit Tank? God Will Fill It!
When a believer “runs low” on the Holy Spirit, God will “refill his spiritual tank” so he will not “run dry” on the road somewhere. God doesn’t want us to be embarrassed, and he doesn’t want us embarrassing him! If an extra “gallon or two” of the Holy Spirit is needed for an anointing, or to finish a difficult job, or to engage the spiritual gifts – God will pour you full!
God had discovered a man named Barnabas; he was humble and just, a great candidate for service in the kingdom of God. Scripture defines Barnabas as “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” And he is mentioned later as a gifted teacher in the church at Antioch.
In scripture we see that the Holy Spirit seeks out and chooses, speaks and directs, God’s servants: While members of the Church at Antioch were spending a season of time worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13: 2).
There are numerous examples in the Bible where the Holy Spirit actively works with believers. One example was when Paul was locked in spiritual combat with the sorcerer Elymas: Then Saul… filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas… (Acts 13: 9) and put a three-day curse of blindness on him.
Although the Holy Spirit plays a leading role in scripture, he is not the central figure in scripture. In the Old Covenant, Jehovah (YAHWEH) dominates; in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the central figure. The Holy Spirit works to bring glory to Jesus Christ, as Jesus works to bring glory to his Father.
Behind the Scene Partner
The Holy Spirit works behind the scene, out of sight, furnishing power, enlightenment, and direction to others, without drawing attention to himself. That’s why he’s seldom mentioned or given credit for what he does, because his job is to promote and glorify Jesus Christ. Many times in the New Testament he is referred to simply as the Spirit, his presence and work are assumed, taken for granted, without mention.
We can best understand the Holy Spirit when we realize he is a separate “person,” yet one [in perfect harmony] with the Father and Son.
When we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, the Spirit of Christ enters us; his Spirit bonds with our spirit to save us by living his life over again in us. God’s master plan is to transform us into copies of Jesus, because he is what we were created to be.
Christ redeems us by “buying us back” from a life of sin, rebellion and disobedience. By paying for our sins, he sets us free from judgment, punishment and enslavement to Satan and our own corrupt flesh. As an additional expression of grace, he may even decide to deliver us from the consequences of past sins!
When we receive the Holy Spirit, he merges with the Spirit of Christ and our spirit to enable us to live in compliance with the teachings of Christ. He also empowers us to be used in spreading the gospel of God’s grace, grace manifested and personified in the life of Jesus Christ.
You May Receive the Holy Spirit Now!
We may be fully Christian, without having received the Holy Spirit; but we’ll probably be less productive than we could have been as a Spirit-filled believer.
We cannot receive the Holy Spirit without receiving Christ. And we can never be forgiven or transformed through the ministry of the Holy Spirit alone.
The Spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit have one ministry, with separate, but contributive tasks to do. Each is crucial to the other and necessary for us believers if we’re to have the entirety of the work of God done in us and through us. The ideal state for a Christian is to be committed to the will of God and full of the Holy Spirit.
For those who have never received the Holy Spirit, I recommend that you do so today – now! Because of what lies ahead in these troubled times, you’ll need all the strength and power available to you in order to remain solid, victorious and productive.
For anyone who has noticed a steady – or sudden – evaporation of the Holy Spirit’s influence and presence in your life, it is imperative that you receive more, that you ask God for a refill! Be full and stay full!
Receive the Spirit – or a Refill
Whether you’re seeking your initial Holy Spirit baptism, or are eager to stay full of the Spirit, here are some things that may help you.
1. You must have a deep, genuine hunger and thirst for God. A mediocre, passionless desire will get you nowhere with God.
The greatest hindrance to faith and spiritual growth, the largest obstacle to receiving the Holy Spirit, is to be satisfied with things the way they are, to be content to stay weak and needy.
2. You will have to spend unhurried time with God. When you’re rushing in and out of his presence you run the risk of offending him, and you’ll never receive a substantial blessing, anointing, or assignment.
3. You must be a consummate worshiper. You ought to worship him privately and publicly. And never worship as a tactic to charm him into answering your prayers.
4. You should take your place in a local church as a stable worshiper and worker. You should love your church, defend your fellow worshipers, tithe and be eager to assist its ministry any way you can.
5. Be positioned where you’ll be able to spill out and over others once you’ve been filled to overflowing. You’ll soon be empty and dry again, unless you share with others your “fullness” and “anointing.”
6. The Spirit of Christ is constantly working to complete your transformation. Work with the Spirit to become the wonderful son or daughter God created you to be.