I have a very religious sounding question for you.
What is a religious sounding question? It’s the kind of question that only churchgoing folks really ask each other.
There are several things that could be brought up in this genre:
- Does God predestine everyone to their fate, or does He allow human beings to have free will
- Are contemporary versions of Scripture legitimate, or should we only trust the oldest most reliable versions… King James ,of course (please, note the sarcasm)
- Can you really worship if there are drums in worship, because you know what drums lead to… dancing. And you know what dancing leads to… of course you don’t, you were raised to be good Christian children, you’d have none of that dancing stuff
Yes, unfortunately the list is potentially endless. There are so many in-house debates it’s kind of scary. But, here is the religious sounding question I have for you.
What’s the deal with the “filling” of the Holy Spirit?
Depending upon the denomination that you are most closely affiliated with each one of us will have a different take on this particular question (and, don’t give me any of that “I am nondenominational” stuff because every time you move to a new town and look for a church you look for in nondenominational one since they believe what you believe, hence the nondenomination denomination. It’s just like the un-Cola).
Some say it is a reality of Scripture that passed away after the apostles.
Others conclude that it is a manifestation of the Spirit available today for a more fulfilled life in Christ.
Yet others would say that without some outward manifestations of the Holy Spirit filling, you ain’t even saved!
Pardon me if I didn’t get your particular slant with all of its wonderful nuances, but I am just using broad brush strokes to point out the major points on the continuum of what people believe regarding this debate.
Well, any of us could write a few books arguing against what you don’t believe, but I’m going to write an article based on what I do believe. So, this won’t be comprehensive but it should accomplish at least two things: one, it should be interesting for you to read, and two, it is probably going to get me in trouble with a lot of folks.
So… let’s dive in!
Here is an example of the filling of the Holy Spirit in Acts 13.
49The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
I find this to be an incredible pattern in Scripture, the filling of the Holy Spirit pointed out in a disciples life almost always is accompanied by two other circumstances. That disciple or group of disciples has either just encountered a serious hardship and is in need of an infilling and refreshing, or they are being prepared for a serious time of ministry and life adjustment.
You never see the filling of the Holy Spirit happen for the purpose of a disciple to get his happy on. It is not the result of an encounter with God or a powerful worship experience. It is only one step on the way to a move of God that begins with the filling.
What I am getting at is my difficulty in understanding how a church service builds up into a place of spiritual frenzy with an ‘outpouring of the Spirit’ only to be followed by a trip to Chili’s and then home for a nap.
Every time I see the phenomenon within the Scripture of this filling of the Holy Spirit done with a outward manifestation, it was always in response to a very difficult time in the recent past, or preparation for a very difficult time in the near future. It was never for our comfort or amusement.
Even the original time of filling known as Pentecost followed a period of fear and prayer after the crucifixion and just before the miraculous birth of the new church and its persecution.
So, if you are going to pursue some kind of filling above and beyond the giving of the Holy Spirit that is already placed in all believers, there is no need for you to find another Bible conference.
No special prayer meeting with secret practices.
No need to find the current spiritual guru with the most happening church that has the ‘in’ with the spirit.
No special book or teaching that helps you see what the Bible is “really” trying to say.
If you would like to experience the filling the Holy Spirit just like they did in the book of Acts, it’s pretty easy to understand, but hard to live out.
You just need to put yourself in the place of service and sacrifice that requires that God show up and work through you, or you’ll never make it.
You see, the filling of the Spirit was always given to God’s children when they needed Him for something or in someway like they’ve never needed Him before. It wasn’t a question of some religious mumbo-jumbo and calling upon a reclusive God who is hiding from us.
It was, and is, about living out a relationship with Him and finding an intensity in our relationship (or, His filling) when we need it most.
Read your Bible. God always sends His Holy Spirit to those who need it most.
If you want to experience God at a deeper level and feel the moving of the Holy Spirit in your life… listen for His voice and then follow Him into the harder things, take the more difficult paths and risk more than you had before.
This is where we will meet the Spirit, and this is where He will meet us.
(By The Way… this ‘filling’ leads to an incredible time of service in chapter 14. I’ll blog on that in a couple of days for all you leaders out there.)