Holy Spirit Baptism or Filling?

Posted: October 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

One of the doctrines that I have wrestled with as I transitioned from one denomination to another is the baptism of the Holy Spirit…or is it the filling of the Holy Spirit.  Within my struggle, I found that a close look at the scriptures helped me understand that there is a distinct difference between “baptism of” and “filling of” the Holy Spirit.

According to 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 and Galatians 3:27-28, the Holy Spirit baptizes every believer.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit involves placing believers into union with Jesus and identifies them with Him. (Romans 6:3-4). Believers are so vitally united to the Lord by the baptism of the Spirit that we are said to be “in Christ” and Christ is said to be “in us.” Jesus said, “I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you” (John 14:20). All that the believer is depends on his being “in Christ” through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit is unique to the church age.   Acts 1:5 indicates that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was still in the future.  Right before He ascended to heaven, Jesus told His disciples, “John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 11:15-16 indicates that the “beginning” of the Holy Spirit’s work of baptizing took place on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2.

Here is where the confusion was for me!  Some people believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a “second blessing” that occurs sometime subsequent to salvation and involves the Holy Spirit giving a special empowerment for serving the Lord.  I could not find this in scriptures and I discovered that people who believed this “second blessing” concept was confusing the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the filling of the Holy Spirit. First, the Scripture teaches us that  baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at the moment of salvation and is true of every believer. (1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27-28). Secondly, there is no command to be baptized by the Holy Spirit, just the declaration of the fact that it has occurred. If the baptism of the Holy Spirit did not occur at salvation, then there would be believers who were truly saved but did not yet belong to the body of Christ (because the Holy Spirit baptizes believers into the body of Christ).  Third, the spiritual condition of the believer is not a factor in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Some of the Christians in Corinth were carnal (1 Corinthians 3:1, 3, 4), yet all were baptized by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).  Finally, each believer is baptized only once. The Greek verb tense in 1 Corinthians 12:13 (“We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body”) indicates an unrepeated experience.

The phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit” is altogether different and has often been confused with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The command to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” involves being under His control (Ephesians 5:18).  Being filled with the Holy Spirit does not involve getting more of Him.  The Holy Spirit is a person, and cannot be divided into portions. Being filled with the Holy Spirit involves allowing Him to have more of us, submitting ourselves to His direction and control. The filling of the Holy Spirit differs from the baptism, indwelling, and sealing of the Holy Spirit.  There is a difference between possessing the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Holy Spirit.  As said before, all Christians are baptized with, indwelled by, and sealed by the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation.  Christians are not commanded to be baptized with, indwelled, or sealed by the Holy Spirit.

All Christians are not filled with the Holy Spirit, although all can be. There is a command to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Believers who are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) are commanded to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).  If all believers were filled with the Spirit, there would be no need for the command to be filled. Another distinct difference is that the baptism, indwelling, and sealing of the Holy Spirit are initial, one-time acts that take place at the moment of salvation. Although the filling of the Holy Spirit may also take place at the moment of salvation, the filling of the Spirit is not confined to one experience or to any one point of time exclusively.  It may be repeated over and over. The verb tense of Ephesians 5:18 indicates, “Keep on getting filled with the Holy Spirit.”  Since being filled with the Holy Spirit involves being under His control, filling is a repeated experience.  The experience of believers in the book of Acts testifies to the fact that they were repeatedly filled with the Holy Spirit.  For example:  The apostles who were filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4) were again described as being filled a few days later (Acts 4:8, 31).  Stephen, who was selected as one of the seven men to assist the apostles,  met the qualification of being “full of the Spirit” (Acts 6:3, 5).  Stephen is again described as being “full of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:55) as he was falsely accused, put on trial, and stoned to death. And finally, Paul is described as being “filled with the Holy Spirit” in Acts 9:17 (immediately after his conversion) and was again “filled with the Holy Spirit” in Acts 13:9.  This was not because their initial “filling” had “run out,” but because they needed the Holy Spirit’s power in a new area.

God desires for believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit (under His control), not merely indwelled by the Holy Spirit. As new areas in our lives come to light, those areas need to be submitted to the Holy Spirit’s control.  Go ahead…check out these scriptures and let the Word speak to you as it did me.

 

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