The baptism and filling of the Holy Spirit.

In this letter we will try to explain the difference between two important events in the life of the true Christian

 1. The baptism of the Holy Spirit and
2. the filling of the Holy Spirit.

 But we must first define what we understand when we think of the Holy Spirit.

 The Holy Spirit is a Divine Person and not a mere power.He is the Third Person in the Trinity of God. In other words, the Holy Spirit is God himself with all the attributes and activities of God.

 He took part in Creation (Genesis 1:2);
He gives life (Job 33:4);
He speaks (Acts 1:16; 1 Peter 1:11);
He testifies for and glorifies Christ (John 15:26; 16:14);
He convicts of sin (John 16:8);
He teaches (John 14:26);
He comforts and strengthens (Acts 9:31);
He helps us to pray (Romans 8:26);
He leads us (John 16:13);
He sanctifies (Romans 15:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11);
He transforms a sinner into a child of God (John 3:5-8) etc.

 1. The Baptism with the Spirit

 The term Baptism with the Spirit is often use in an unbiblical sense. We need to see what the Bible itself has to say about this term.

 The baptism of the Spirit, from the standpoint of the Bible is only connected with the events which centre and circle around Pentecost. Subsequent to the book of the Acts, wherever Spirit baptism is referred to, the verb of the passage is in the past tense. That means that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a historically fulfilled event and is not to be repeated in this dispensation. He was poured out once and for all on the church on the day of Pentecost. He is here on earth at this very moment, and he is active.

 Everyone who becomes a true Christian is at that very moment baptised with the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Spirit comes into a human life and performs the great change inside him which Christ called the second birth or being born again. In response to this working of the Spirit within him he becomes converted, a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). This can happen even in the heart and life of a very small child (2 Timothy 1:5), or in the life of an adult (Acts 9:1-9).

 The baptism of the Spirit in the life of the Christian therefore occurs when he is converted and becomes part of the true Christian church. It can occur only once (John 14:23; 1 Corinthians 12:13).

 Christians are never ordered to be baptised with the Spirit (this is God's work) but we are commanded to be filled.

 2. The Filling with the Spirit

 Some people teach that there is a second blessing which every true Christian must experience. What actually happens is that many Christians are baptised by the Holy Spirit without realizing the true meaning of it all.

 Paul writes to the Ephesians in Chapter 5:18: "Do not get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you; instead be filled with the Spirit" (Good News Bible). What does this mean? It is imperative that we understand that this means that we surrender ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit who is already in our hearts.

 Let us use a simple example: If I take a bucket which is half-filled with sand to a tap and fill it with water, the water will only fill the half that is not filled with sand. I cannot say the bucket is filled with water. This is what happens in the lives of many Christians. They are not fully surrendered to Christ and His Spirit. The indwelling Spirit controls only a part of their lives. To be filled with the Spirit does not however mean that you get more of the Spirit, but that the Spirit gets more of you.

 Don't think that the filling of the Spirit means that you must go through an emotional and miraculous experience. Some people do experience such a crisis. But please understand that in the process of sanctification the filling of the Spirit can be repeated. The baptism of the Spirit happens only once.

 Our part is to surrender our whole life to the indwelling Spirit, not to look for extraordinary experiences, to examine ourselves and not to trust or rely on our emotions. Read Galations 5:22-23. Are the fruits of the Spirit in your life? Read John 7:37-39. Do you have that joy?

 In conclusion the following advice:

 How not to be filled by the Spirit:

 1. Do not say: "Come, Holy Spirit." He is in you as a Christian.
2. Do not seek for "power". Seek for the Spirit as the source of power - Acts 8:17-19, 21.

 How to be filled by the Spirit:

 1. Acknowledge his presence in your heart and confess all your sins daily - 1 John 1:9.
2. Accept His authority over your life - by faith in God's Word - Acts 2:38-39.
3. Keep in daily touch with Him through prayer, Bible study and meditation.
4. Rely upon him in every situation - you are never alone. His strength and love and assistance is at your disposal if you fully obey Him.