It’s been a few weeks, but this is Part 2 of a series on something called “the baptism of the Spirit.”
There are those within Christianity who maintain that sometime AFTER salvation, a believer needs to have an experience whereby he/she receives, or receives more fully, the Holy Spirit. This event is called “the baptism of the Spirit,” and once it has occurred, the believer will then live a “Spirit-filled life.” The evidence that this has taken place is speaking in tongues.
Question: Is this teaching biblical?
In my previous article, we looked at all the Bible passages that might support the above view and found they don’t do so at all. Instead, the Bible teaches us that believers receive the Holy Spirit at the MOMENT of salvation, and receive Him FULLY. A key text is I Corinthians 12:13, which says:
For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
This entire passage in I Corinthians is about the unity of the Body. If some believers have the Spirit and others don’t (or some have MORE of him than others), that destroys the unity of the Body. But notice Paul’s use of the word “all”:
“For we were ALL baptized by one Spirit . . .”
“We were ALL given the one Spirit to drink.”
What Then Does It Mean to be “Filled” with the Spirit?
Being “filled” by the Holy Spirit is an important biblical concept, but misinterpreted by some of our brothers and sisters.
The idea of being “filled” by the Spirit is mentioned 7 times in the New Testament – twice in Luke, 4 times in Acts, and once in Ephesians.
Once again, we should be careful about taking certain historical events (recorded in the Gospels & Acts) and making those events normative (i.e., taking the position that the events should be replicated in the life of every believer).
To learn what is normative (or should be normative) in the life of every believer, we need to focus on the epistles (basically, Romans-Revelation). And as noted above, there is only one mention in the epistles of believer’s being “filled” with the Holy Spirit. The verse is Ephesians 5:19:
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
In this verse, the Apostle Paul uses an analogy or comparison to explain the meaning of being “filled” with the Spirit. He compares it to being filled with alcohol.
A person who is filled with alcohol is CONTROLLED by it, until its effects wear off. This is the meaning of the word “filled”: to be controlled by.
Instead of this, Paul says, the believer in Christ needs to submit to the Holy Spirit (as the drinker submits to the alcohol) and be controlled by HIM. Thus, to be “filled” with the Spirit is to be CONTROLLED by the Spirit at any given time or in any given situation.
Clearly, this is a moment-by-moment decision, not a one-time occurrence, as alleged by some of our brothers and sisters.