Be Continuously Filled with the Holy Spirit
- Summary: Jesus spoke in John 14:12 of believers doing the “works that He did” and even “greater works.” Where are those greater works today? The early Church believers, in the Book of Acts, healed the sick, cast out demons, and even raised the dead. What did they have that we have overlooked? I believe that a big part of the answer to that lies in their awareness of their need to be continuously full of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 ...be filled with the Spirit.
- •• Various Greek scholars and bible commentators point out that the Greek present imperative tense is used in this verse. It has the connotation of a continuous replenishment, an ongoing state of being filled.
- • It has been suggested by some that an awkward but accurate translation would be something like: “go on being filled” or "keep on being filled with the Spirit."
- •• I try each summer to keep two thirds of an acre of grass alive in my yard! To do so, I must water it ... again and again and again! If I don’t water it repeatedly, it dries up in our hot, dry southern Oregon climate. I never allow my lawn to get parched.
- • Explanatory note: I am not trying to make a sharp distinction between the very similar words continuously (meaning non-stop) and continually (essentially meaning again and again and again...). The Scriptures use both with regard to the Holy Spirit. For example, Acts 13:52 - "And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." At the same time, some Greek scholars, as noted above, say that the "be filled" in Ephesians 5:18 has the continuous sense of "go on being filled" with the Holy Spirit.
• My lawn watering example is intended to capture the sense of both continually and continuously. In southern Oregon's hot, dry summers I had to water my lawn continually (again and again!) in order to keep moisture in its life-giving roots continuously (that is, nonstop).
•• In Acts 2:4, it says, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit” on that first New Testament Day of Pentecost, with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues. But then again in Acts 4:31, it says of many of the same Spirit-filled believers, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” Huh?
- • This is an illustration of Ephesians 5:18 — those who had received their personal Pentecost in Acts 2 here experienced a stirring up, a rekindling — presumably another of many times of stirring up the Spirit — just like my lawn, which again and again needs watering. It can’t just go on last week’s watering, or my lawn will dry up.
• I am not suggesting that this is an entirely new baptism with the Holy Spirit for those who have already received it. The Scripture says (1 John 2:27) that "the anointing you received from him remains in you." There is a biblical principle that applies: "...I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is IN you..." (2 Timothy 1:6). Some other translations say to "stir up the gift of God." But they all remind us that the Lord's gift is IN us, not something that comes and goes. The Amplified Bible reminds us (Romans 11:29) that "God's gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given...]." Our job is to stir up the baptism with the Spirit that is in us and, as Jesus urged us, to "keep your lamps burning" (Luke 12:35).
• And of course there may have been some in the room in Acts 4 who had not been involved in the initial Acts 2 Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit. So verse 31's "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit" would be a first-time experience for them. From then on, like the others (and like us today), they should be diligent to "keep their lamps burning" and to "stir up" that precious empowerment of the Holy Spirit that is "in them."
- •• What is the environment, the context, for this ongoing empowerment, this stirring up, in Acts 4:31? Let's see.
Acts 4:24, 29-31 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, ... (29) “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. (30) Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (31) 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.
- •• This Holy Ghost stirring of these Spirit-filled believers came as they prayed to God for MORE — (1) bold preaching ... (2) healings ... (3) miraculous signs and wonders — all in Jesus’ Name.
•• If they had been content to rest passively in their initial, Acts 2:4 Holy Spirit anointing, they would not have asked, and they might not have received — “Ye have not because ye ask not” (James 4:2).
•• Jesus said, “Believers, you will do the works I do.” Well, these first-century believers did those works! How? — Many of that group, perhaps even most or all of them, had already received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). But they understood their need to stay full of the Holy Spirit — to "go on being filled" — in order to effectively preach the word of God confirmed by the supernatural spiritual gifts.
John 14:12, 16-17a I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.... (16) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — (17) the Spirit of truth.
- •• How and why can we do the works Jesus did and greater? He says, “...because I am going to my Father... [and] He will give you another Counselor ... the [Holy] Spirit...” And one result of our receiving the heaven-sent gift of the Holy Spirit baptism is an empowerment of us to do His works, especially by the enablement of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
•• So you see how totally dependent we are on having the fullness of His Spirit in order to do His works.
•• How are you doing today? Do you find yourself somewhere between your own personal Acts 2 and Acts 4? Somewhere between that first anointing and the current state (perhaps declining) of the anointing's expression in your life?
- • I first received that Acts 2 anointing, that mighty baptism of the Holy Spirit, in 1971. That outpouring of the Holy Spirit on me personally was a starting point, not the end.
• I’ve needed a lot of Acts 4 replenishments since then. I (and you) need an ongoing renewal of Holy Ghost power in our lives and our ministries.
• How can we stay continuously filled with the Spirit daily, hourly, moment to moment? Let's read on...
John 7:37-39 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. (38) Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (39) By this he meant the Spirit....
- •• We need to thirst for this living water — for a flowing river, not just a glassful ... for Holy Ghost fire, not just a flickering candle.
•• We need to believe Jesus, and to believe in Him.
•• We need to come to Him. He is the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8). Take advantage daily of His blessed gift to you of speaking in tongues, of praying in the Spirit.
•• We need to drink deeply. Don’t just sip; drink!
2 Kings 2:9, KJV ...Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
- •• Let that be our prayer:
- • “Lord, thank you for that Acts 2 filling with the Holy Spirit. Help me now daily to stir up, to fan into flame, that abiding anointing of the Spirit in my life and ministry. Lord, my prayer today is for a double portion of your Spirit, twice the measure of any of my previous experiences. In Jesus’ Name.”
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Doctrine & Theology
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Hearing from God
Holy Spirit | Pentecostal Topics
Power of God
Various Topics Not Listed Elsewhere
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©1999, 2015, 2019 James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.