These papers explore how to be filled with the Holy Spirit with the goal of being empowered to live a life that pleases God. This last part will explore spiritual maturity, filling by the Holy Spirit, being empowered, asking and receiving. It concludes with a Bibliography.
Asking for the Holy Spirit’s Filling
[Let’s pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead us in this study]
In the first half of this study we asked some important questions about the Holy Spirit. Then in this half we have asked:
- “What prevents us from being filled with the Holy Spirit?”
- “What enables us to be filled with the Holy Spirit?”
- “What does it look like when we are filled?”
- “Why be empowered by the Holy Spirit?”
- “How can we be empowered by the Holy Spirit?”
I have two more brief subjects before we put into practice what we have learned.
We are in this study because we want an even more mature relationship with our Lord.
- If anyone could claim to be mature, it would be Paul. But hear what he says: “I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are mature, have this attitude.”1
- “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.”2
- “Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.”3
- “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”4
- “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”5
- “Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory.”6
- Parable of the seed (Growing to maturity): ‘And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows — how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”7
I have been very impressed by the maturity level of all of you. You are seeking the Lord much more than most believers. Peter was also impressed with his readers when he wrote the following: “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.”8 But he followed that with “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”9
More of the Spirit?
What exactly does it mean to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit? Do we actually get more of the Spirit? As a result of this study, I don’t think that we do. Let me explain.
At the moment of conversion we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. He takes up residence in us. 1 Cor 3:16 says, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Likewise 1 Cor 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…” I believe that at conversion He fills us with Himself and that we have as much of the Holy Spirit as we will ever have. But as immature believers we do not realize the power that dwells within us until He reveals Himself to us—sometimes spectacularly. That is what happened to those twenty famous Christians in the book “They Found the Secret.”
Let me give you a couple of illustrations:
- Suppose you inherited a car. Fine, but no big deal since you already have a car. But say someone comes up to you and says: “Did you realize that the car has a V12 engine that produces 550 horsepower? It can go from 0 to 60 miles-per-hour in under 4 seconds! It’s probably worth about $300,000!” Did the car change? No. Did you get more of it? No. The only thing that changed is your understanding of what you have. Now you want to try it out and see how powerful it really is! The same thing happens with the Holy Spirit. We don’t get more of the Spirit, but now He has revealed to us Who really indwells us and His incredible power that can work through us.
- Another illustration could be that you were given a rifle. Nice but you may already have a hunting rifle. But let’s say you show it to a friend who exclaims: “Holy cow! Did you realize that this rifle shoots armor-piercing, explosive rounds that are accurate beyond 2500 yards?” No, but now you are really excited and want to try it out! Did the rifle change? No. Did you get more of the rifle? No. But what you did get was an understanding of its capabilities. The same thing happens with the Holy Spirit. You don’t get filled with more of the Spirit but He opens your eyes to the incredible gift that you already have. [Much better than the gift of a rifle!] You are now filled with faith and courage so you can step out confidently in His power and achieve amazing God-honoring things.
This explains to me why all my Christian life I have had such a deep passion for the hymn “Open My Eyes.” I never understood why this hymn was so significant to me. I think that all these years God has been telling me the truth about the Holy Spirit through my longing for this hymn. It actually is an intimate prayer. Let me tell you the words. The first verse goes like this:
Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
Ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!
I think this is also why the second chapter of first Corinthians has always been my favorite chapter in the Bible. It reveals how the Holy Spirit works in our lives.
When the Holy Spirit opens our spiritual eyes and illumines us, we see His awesome power and our faith grows exponentially at that moment so that we are empowered to abide (bask) in the Spirit of Christ and be and do the things that please Him. In effect we have been filled because He is now our all-consuming passion that fills our lives.
Asking to be empowered
Now all of this has been leading up to a crescendo. This study is not just to make us more educated. Let’s put into practice what we have learned about being filled with the Holy Spirit.
- “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”10
- “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.”11
- “Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.”12 Notice that this verse didn’t just say to seek His strength, but to seek Him.
- ‘So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”‘13
Let’s reiterate what we have learned about how to be empowered with the Holy Spirit Himself:
- Listen: [Jesus instructs us]
- Wait: [For His timing]
- Ask: [In faith]
- Pray: [Connect with Him]
- Receive: [Accept His amazing gift]
- Act: [Put it into action]
Jesus’ disciples did these things and the results were spectacular. Since Heb 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” therefore, if we ask in faith with the right motives, He can answer us today and fill us with “the Spirit of Christ.”
However, what if He doesn’t answer the way we ask? Don’t give up! Keep asking because:
- It is up to Him which gifts He gives us.
- The timing is up to Him.
- He knows what is best.14
- He may need to make us useable before He can actually use us.
So let’s have a time of deep prayer for several minutes and let’s ask Him in faith to fill us to overflowing by revealing His Spirit in us for His glory. Our goal is to be empowered so we can please Him.
I will lead, but those of you who want to pray out-loud may of course. This is a time of intimate, open communication with our Lord. Don’t think about anything or anybody else. Then when it seems appropriate, I will close. Don’t pass up this opportunity.
When Jesus ascended into Heaven, He said, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”15
“But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”16
Here are two outstanding easy-to-read books on the Holy Spirit:
- The first one (“The Forgotten God” by Francis Chan) is a book that I want to reread at least once every year. It is beautiful. Simple but profound. Practical.
- The second third book (“They Found the Secret” by Raymond Edmond) is a mini-biography of 20 powerful Christians who all had something in common: after coming to faith in Jesus they dedicated their lives to His service for around 15-20 years with virtually zero fruit. Then something powerful happened in their lives (they discovered the Holy Spirit) and suddenly they had amazing fruit—even though they didn’t work any harder.
We can learn a lot from these books.
These papers are based on a six-week adult Sunday School study at Sisters Community Church in Sisters, Oregon, January 2020, led by Drew Berding. The title of the study was ‘The Holy Spirit Empowering the Life of the Believer.’
Photo Attribution: Morning Brew – unsplash.com
- Phil 3:12-15
- Heb 6:1-2
- 1 Cor 14:20
- Eph 4:11-13
- Heb 5:10
- 1 Cor 2:6-7
- Mark 4:26-29
- 2 Peter 1:12
- 2 Peter 3:18
- Acts 1:4
- 2 Cor 4:7
- Psalm 105:4
- John 20:19-22
- Matt 6:8, “…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
- John 16:7
- John 7:39
- 2 Cor 6:16, ‘For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.”‘
- 2 Cor 4:7, “But we have this treasure [the Holy Spirit] in earthen vessels [our bodies], so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.”
- Luke 11:13, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
- Philippians 2:12, “…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
- Col 1:10, “…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects…”