Common teaching on being filled with the Spirit – a response

I think the most common charismatic teaching on being filled with the Spirit is, broadly speaking, this:

We get first baptised with the Spirit, when we are soaked and filled for the first time. Then we need to go on continually being filled. However we tend not to do this, so, because we leak, we become more empty. Then, like a part full glass, we need to come to God to be re-filled.

Now, this understanding of the dynamic of our relationship with the Holy Spirit and how he fills us has a number of implications.  Some we may be aware of, some we may not even think about. So the following list if implications and consequences of our understanding.

  1. We receive a finite quantity of the Holy Spirit and, as we grow, the amount of him we receive and can contain will grow.
  2. When we pray and ask to be filled or receive prayer from another, our ‘levels’ are topped up.
  3. At other times either we’re using up the resource we received or it just leaks out of us and dissipates. There may be a number of reasons for this ‘leaking’. We do not need to address what these may be at this point.
  4. We recognise the filling because we experience either emotional release or physical responses to God being present with us like shaking, joy, tears, falling down etc etc. We would rarely consider ourselves to have been filled if we do not have some kind of experience as a consequence.
  5. We thus recognise ourselves as being filled more by sight than by faith.
  6. We then consider ourselves as anointed because the feel God upon or in us, and so feel able to move in the gifts of the Spirit in a more special way due to this anointing. Maybe we say that we are ‘in the Glory’ and that God moves more when we are in the Glory than at other times.
  7. The source of the filling is the Holy Spirit who we lack being poured into us from outside, in other words from heaven, like the Holy Spirit fell on Jesus at his baptism.
  8. When we feel full we feel anointed and then we expect God to move. But if we feel empty, we feel distant from God and thus do not expect him to move, unless we receive the infilling again.
  9. The purpose of being filled becomes to bring us more into the presence of God and enable us to enjoy his presence among us. This becomes the main reason to seek to be filled again – to enjoy his presence.
  10. So we view being filled with the Spirit as being like taking a car to a petrol station – we can keep topping it up or we can run it until it’s empty, then try to push it along by our won strength. We are the car and the petrol is the Holy Spirit. But this car has a leaky tank.

Next I will show what the bible teaches me on the subject.

First, a key principle is that we are learning about how the Kingdom of Heaven comes in this earth. In Luke 17:20-21 Jesus said

“The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed,  21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

So, we shouldn’t be looking for outward manifestations to let us know the Kingdom is working, because it is within each one of us. Don’t look for ‘God is moving there’ or ‘Revival is breaking out here’. Know that the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.

From this I learn that the source to us of the filling of the Holy Spirit shouldn’t be from Heaven ‘out there’ but ‘Heaven within’. Jesus said two things about how we would receive the holy Spirit and how he would interact with us.

In John 4:13-15 Jesus explains
“Everyone who drinks of this [the water from the natural well] water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

So the Holy Spirit will be a source within us of water that will continue flowing and release eternal life. Now, this life is the opposite of death or sickness. So this will result in healing for us and others.

Next in John 7:37-39 we learn of a different picture of how the Holy Spirit will be within us.
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”  Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Interestingly Jesus waits until the last day of a feast when everyone will have drunk and eaten and none will be physically thirsty! Out of the heart of believers will flow rivers of living water – or rivers of the holy Spirit.

Never anywhere did Jesus suggest that believers would in some way run dry of the Holy Spirit and need a re-filling. Actually, if rivers are flowing from your heart or a spring is running inside you, what will happen is that you will be filled from inside and, far from ‘leakin’, the Holy Spirit will be gushing out of you to bring refreshment to others. The only way to stop being full would be to stop the rivers flowing and the only way to get re-filled would be to unblock the source of the rivers.

A principle of the New Covenant is that we receive by faith that which God has provided by grace. So, we need to know the truth, that this is how we are filled with the Spirit and start believing it. Stop thinking that we havea  finite resource of the Holy Spirit that keeps running out and realise that we have been given ALL of him and he flows out from us so that we never have any lack.

We can learn much from John 20:21-22. First Jesus sends us in exacly the same way the Father sent him. So with the same purpose and the same empowering. Anything in our mission that differs from how the Father sent Jesus must be considered doubtful.

We learn in Luke 4:18-19 why the Father gave Jesus the Holy Spirit. This is the only reason given for Jesus having the Spirit. Can the Spirit be given to us for a different purpose? According to John 20:21, NO. The Spirit is upon me because the Lord has anointed me.

So we learn that the Holy Spirit being on us (us being filled) does not cause us to be ‘anointed’. The anointing comes first. This anointing is the task to which Jesus is appointed by God and is the only anointing Jesus ever claims for himself. According to 1 John 2:27 this anointing abides – in other words it doesn’t come and go. We are always anointed because the anointed One is always within us. There is no anointing to seek other than the anointing of Jesus in Luke 4 and this anointing is given to every believer the moment they are born again.

It is to preach good new to the poor. Freedom/release to the oppressed and captives [healing from sickness oppression addiction etc]. Recovery of sight to the blind [speaking of salvation as well as physical healing]. And to proclaim the year [season] of the favour of the Lord.

First we note that Jesus sends us in this same way and therefore that will never change. Second these and ONLY these works are the reason we have the Holy Spirit and are to be filled with him. The Spirit is in us and flows from us so that we can do these things. Not so that we can enjoy lovely times wallowing in what we call God’s presence. Flipping and flopping and acting drunk. We are filled with the Spirit to equip us to love the lost. So the best way to get filled is to go out doing Luke 4:18-19. He will always flow out of us if we’re doing the things we’re anointed to do.

Next, it’s interesting to note that in John 20:22 Jesus deposits the Holy Spirit within them. Now, they didn’t act as if he were there. But on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit breaks out. Not from heaven out there somewhere. Jesus had expalined that heaven is within you. He had deposited the Holy Spirit within them ready for this day. Now he is released, for the first time in history, as rivers of living water, just as Jesus had prophesied in John 7:31.

But this was no ordinary rivers. This was a positive explosion of a Holy Spirit who had been waiting for al lof time for this moment. 120 people, all with multiple rivers flooding out of their hearts. The sound would be akin to the Niagra Falls. They would have exploded out like volcanos, but of water not lava. These rivers would fill the whole room with ‘water’. The whole atmosphere would be flooded. Water falling onto the ground splashing around. The Spirit being spoken of as fire as well as water then rests on their heads like candles, kept burning as he continues to flood out.

This explosion prefigures the way all filling with the Spirit will happen from that day on. No an empty glass being topped up with a finite quantity of God, but rivers being released from the heart flooding out to bring healing and deliverance to a dying world.

The purpose of this filling is never to give us great Sunday evening meetings with supernatural manifestations. The Spirit flows out of us because we are anointed and we need to do those things we are anointed for. It is not for our pleasure and enjoyment, but so that we can, like Jesus, spread life to the world.

So don’t wait for God to fill you to replace a lack in your life and look for evidence in your flesh that it’s happened. Believe the words of Jesus in John 7:31 and allow the Spirit to fill you and then to gush out to love the sick and lost world.

  1. We have an infinite resource of all of God within us and if we will only believe he will flow out of us to others for thier benefit, not ours.
  2. When we believe John 7:31 and go out to DO luke 4:18-19, we are filled with the Spirit.
  3. The resource will never run out and we will always have more than enough.
  4. We know by faith that we are filled and can see the results by Luke 4:18-19 being done.
  5. We know that we are filled by faith, not feelings or manifestations in our flesh.
  6. We know that we are anointed at all times and can never be more anointed that we were on the day we were saved. The anointed one is in us and his anointing is the only one we seek. No impartations mantles or double portions. Just a single portion of the infinite God within.
  7. The source is the Holy Spirit with us always flowing out unless we by faith [lack of faith] stop him flowing. There is always enough and we don’t have to wait.
  8. We know that we are always anointed. Always ready. Based on truth not feelings. We know that if we move, he will move and flow out of us.
  9. The prupose of being filled is not our self-centred pleasures but to do Luke 4:18-19.
  10. We’re not going to a fuel station to be topped up. We always have more than enough  for every good work. We never need to run on empty because Jesus said we’d never thirst again.

One Response to “Common teaching on being filled with the Spirit – a response”

  1. Matthew Hudghton Says:

    That was really good! nice blog! 🙂

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