Receiving The Power of the Holy Spirit

Filled to Overflowing

I recently asked a pre-teen boy if he had ever asked Jesus to come into his heart.  He answered that he had, so I asked him when he had made this decision.  When had he prayed and invited Jesus to come and live with him and be his Lord?

He thought a moment, then said, “When I was born!”  I assured him that he needed to make a more definite decision at some specific time in his life.

Thinking again, he said, “Well, I guess it was the first time I went to Church, then.” I told him we all need to make a definite decision to ask Jesus to cleanse us from all sin and come into our lives.  I emphasized that salvation is not necessarily automatic. We can just live good lives or be raised in a godly home.


Continued Filling

We all need to continue to grow in the Lord and in the power of His might. Salvation is only the beginning of our life in the Lord.  We may have the foundation built, but we need to build on that foundation with more than wood hay, and straw as we continue our journey with our Lord through this life.

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. (I Corinthians 3:11-13)

For example, how many times have you asked God for more power in your life?  Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness, or “right-standing” with Him? Many Christians assume that the power of the Holy Spirit is a gift that is automatic and doesn’t need to be searched and prayed for.


The Holy Spirit’s Likeness

The Holy Spirit is described in the Scriptures in many figurative ways.  When Jesus met with His disciples immediately after His resurrection, for example, John’s Gospels says that Jesus “breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit'” (John 20:22).

Later, however, Jesus told them, “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:48-49).

Then, before His ascension, Jesus gathered his disciples together and commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5).

In these verses the Holy Spirit is compared to Jesus’ breath, articles of clothing, and with cleansing water.  Also, these verses show that the “promise of the Father” was not limited to just being born again in one moment, or just the Church’s receiving the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, but the filling, or “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, when they received the power they needed to be His witnesses “throughout the world,” a phrase that extends these promises to all believers today:

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”  (Acts 2:38-39)

The pouring out of the Holy Spirit was, and today still is today, a step-by-step life of filling and refilling.  The early believers received this power at Pentecost, but also were filled again with power when Peter and John were released by the Jewish religious rulers after the healing of the lame beggar (Acts 3).

And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.  (Acts 4:31)

Other Examples

More examples of the infilling of the Holy Spirit may be found in the Acts of the Apostles in particular. Most noteworthy are those when Christians were filled again with the Holy Spirit, not just when they were saved or born again.

Saul of Tarsus was definitively “saved” when he met Jesus in a vision on the Road to Damascus, for Ananias was sent not to lead Saul in praying the “sinner’s prayer,” but to pray for the healing of Saul’s eyes and also for the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  After laying his hands on him, Ananias said,

Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 9:17)

Another example is when Peter was sent to the first gentile Christians at the home of Cornelius, the Roman centurion.  Notice that the Holy Spirit fell upon these gentiles before they were baptized:

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days. (Acts 10:44-48)

This is the reverse order of what occurred on the Day of Pentecost, for during Peter’s message to the gathered Jews, he said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 10:47).  Thus, water baptism usually came first!

Finally, we have the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesian believers:  “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

The Holy Spirit is not only our Comforter and our Teacher, but also the true source of our Power.  We need to seek Him and His power continually in our lives, not just be filled, but also refilled.


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