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Be Filled with the Spirit

posted 29 Apr 2015, 01:22 by Bert Weenink

‘And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit….’

(Ephesians 5:18)

On Sunday 24th of May we will celebrate Pentecost, exactly 50 days after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The word Pentecost comes from the Greek pentecoste, meaning "fiftieth day".

Pentecost is also seen as the birthday of the church as on this day the apostle Peter preached his first sermon when 3,000 people came to faith and were added to the church.  From Acts 2 onwards the Holy Spirit plays a vital role in the growth of the church, in number as well as in depth.

It is sad that the ministry of the Spirit often causes division among believers and churches today. There are many references to His Person and ministry throughout the New Testament, but believers are often confused when they consider the meaning of terms such as baptism in the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit, being sealed with the Spirit, grieving the Spirit, etc. It goes far beyond this article to have an in-depth look at the Holy Spirit (join us in our Sunday evening services from the 31st of May if you want that!).

For now I would just like to look at the verse quoted at the beginning, telling us to be filled with the Spirit. What does this mean, being filled with the Spirit? One important principle whenever we consider a Bible verse is to study the text in its immediate and wider context. A lot of wild and wrong interpretations would be avoided if we would zealously adhere to that principle. I would like to answer three questions regarding the commandment ’Be filled with the Spirit’. 

1. Who is it for?

Paul wrote his letter ‘to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus, (Eph. 1:1), so this was clearly addressed to believers, those who were chosen, redeemed, forgiven and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Being filled with the Spirit cannot, therefore, mean receiving the Spirit for the first time, or being promoted to a higher level of Christianity. This was written to those who were spiritually alive, saved by grace and God’s workmanship.

2. What does it mean?

Paul instructs the believers not to be drunk with wine, but, instead, to be filled with the Spirit. It is clear that Paul is thinking about the influence and control of the Holy Spirit. Those who are filled by the Spirit engage in spiritual activities, such as ‘speaking  to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord’ . (5:19) It also means submitting ’to one another out of reverence for Christ. (5:21) The evidence of being filled with the Spirit can be seen in what happens between husbands and wives (5:22-33), children and parents (6:1-4), servants and masters. (6:5-9) It is obvious that being filled with the Spirit has an effect on very ordinary—down to earth—day to day situations.

3. How can we bring it about?

From reading the text it seems clear that the Spirit is willing to help us live the Christian life in the way just described, but He doesn’t do it against our will. The commandment to be filled is given to us, we need to give Him space, we need to allow Him to do this. His filling promotes our obedience, but, likewise, our obedience promotes His filling. To me, being filled with the Spirit is simply the opposite of what we read in 4:30, where we are told not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. There are things to be avoided, and things to be done.

Be filled with the Spirit, it is not really an option, it is a commandment for us all. May God help us to submit to Him and to one another for Jesus’ sake.

Desiring to be spirit-filled with you,

Pastor Bert

 



 

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