Be filled with the Spirit


Before he ascended into heaven Jesus told his disciples to return to Jerusalem and await the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-11).

Ten days later their sadness at losing Jesus’ physical presence was changed into wonderful joy as the Holy Spirit came and filled them to overflowing. Their transformed lives, radical preaching and miraculous ministry bore powerful witness to the fact that Jesus was alive again from the dead.  The anointing of the Holy Spirit that had been on Jesus’ earthly ministry (Acts 10:38) now came on the disciples too.

Nor was it just the 12 disciples or the 120 in the upper room on the day of Pentecost who received the Holy Spirit but since then men, women and children from every nation who have put their faith in Jesus Christ have received him too (Acts 2:39).

The Holy Spirit is in fact our heavenly Father’s promised gift to his children (Luke 11:9-13; Acts 1:4,5).  The more we open our lives to receive the Spirit and his fullness, the more we will find ourselves delighting in our Father’s love and grace.

Please take time to look up the Scripture references as you read through this leaflet. As you do so you will be honouring the Holy Spirit who inspired the scriptures and your faith will grow!

1. Who is the Holy Spirit?

He is the ‘third’ person of the Godhead, the Trinity.  He is a person, just like the Father and the Son and should not be thought of as an ‘it’, like a power or an influence (John 15:26).  Jesus told his disciples that when he had returned to his Father he would send the Holy Spirit to take his place and represent him (John 14-16). On the day of Pentecost he came and filled every one of them (Acts 2:1-13).

2. Be filled with the Spirit

The first time the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit was on the day of Pentecost. Jesus also called this experience the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5, 2:4).  The first infilling was followed by many others.

Even though we can be baptised in the Spirit only once, we can be filled with him many times. Indeed we should be filled ‘ongoingly’. (Eph. 5:18 – 6:9; v 18 ‘be being filled’ – a command!)

3. The new birth and the baptism in the Spirit are not identical


Although we become children of God by the action of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-7; Titus 3:5), this is not the same as the baptism in the Spirit.

Practical examples from the book of Acts

• Disciples on day of Pentecost (Acts 2)

• Converts in Samaria (Acts 8:14-17)

• The apostle Paul (Acts 9:17)

• First Ephesian converts (Acts 19:4-7)

Teaching from the epistles

Referring to the events of Acts 19, Paul says that already having believed, the Ephesians were sealed by the promised Holy Spirit, i.e. baptised in the Spirit (Eph. 1:13).  In fact it was after they were baptised in water they received the Spirit.

If you have not been baptized in the Holy Spirit since you believed, ask God to fill you now, just as he filled the disciples then!

4. The baptism in the Holy Spirit

The baptism in the Spirit is our first infilling of the Spirit following on from our conversion to Christ.  It is seen as an enduement of power for service and, particularly with regard to the body of Christ, as the gateway to the gifts of the Spirit (1Cor. 12:1-13).  It is accompanied by the gift of speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4; 9:17 & 1 Cor, 14:18; 10:44-47; 19:4-6) and it is the birthright of every believer.

Along with justification by faith, the baptism in the Spirit is part of the blessing God promised to Abraham for the nations (Gal. 3:6-9, 14). (incidentally, the rendering ‘baptism with the Holy Spirit in many Bible translations is a legacy from the Authorized Version. which reflects Anglican theology on baptism. The Greek text clearly reads ‘in’.)

5. Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit

Prayerfully look up John 7:37-39; we need to:

a) Thirst – eagerly desire (1Cor. 14:1)

b) Come to Jesus – even if someone else lays hands on you, Jesus is the one who baptises in the Holy Spirit, focus on him (Mt. 3:11)

c) Drink – receive the free gift

d) Let the river flow – now you can praise God with the gift of tongues

Any of the elders will be delighted to talk with you and pray with you to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

6. What the Holy Spirit does


Following on from receiving the baptism in the Spirit it is good to remind ourselves of the kind of things he wants to do in our lives.  The extent to which we open ourselves to him and yield to his working determines how much we grow as Christians. His ministry is to lead us through life in a way that glorifies Jesus and brings honour to our heavenly Father.

He causes us to be born again as children of God (John 3:5-7; Titus 3:5)

Through him we become members of God’s family, being born from above – from our heavenly Father (John 1:12, 13).  He wants us to bear the family likeness!

He ‘grows’ the holy character of Jesus in our lives (Gal. 5:22,23; 1 Cor. 13:4-7)

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives.  As we focus on Jesus and desire to become like him, the Holy Spirit will change us (2 Cor. 3:18)

He brings intimacy with the Father

Not only does the Holy Spirit fill us with God’s love (Rom. 5:5), but he brings us assurance of salvation (Rom. 8:15,16). The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the confirmation of the Father’s love for us, just as it was for Jesus (Mt. 3:16,17).

He equips us for ministry (1 Cor. 12:7-11)

As we desire to serve the Lord there are supernatural gifts the Holy Spirit wants to give us to be more effective, e.g. prophecy in the context of the church (1 Cor. 14:1) or gifts of healings as we pray for our friends or work colleagues who are ill.

He challenges us to keep our relationships right (John 20:22,23)

The first mention of the Holy Spirit after the resurrection was in connection with forgiveness. If we don’t forgive those who have hurt or harmed us we can never represent Jesus properly (2 Cor. 5:17-19).

He helps us to be credible witnesses of Jesus (Acts 1:8)

The Holy Spirit will help us share our faith in Christ in a way that flows out of our ongoing experience of him. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is a prophetic outpouring resulting in a credible lifestyle testimony to Jesus (Acts 1:8; 2:17,18; Rev. 19:10.  Walk the walk, then talk the talk!

He opens up the scriptures to us

The Holy Spirit who inspired the scriptures (2 Peter 1:21) will use them to draw us close to Jesus (John 5:39, 40), encourage us (Rom. 15:4) and equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).

However, he can be grieved and his activity quenched

Because the Holy Spirit is a person, we can cause him to become grieved or saddened, especially if we let ourselves become hard and unloving in our attitudes to others (Eph. 4:29-32).

We can restrict the Holy Spirit’s activity through fear or unwillingness to use the gifts he has given us (Luke 11:9-13; 1 Thess. 5:19, 20) and quench him by not listening to him when he speaks to us.

So, avoiding anything that could hinder his work in our lives, let us open ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit day by day.  Only in this way can those around us be impacted with the power and love of God.