by Vidar Ligard
It is God’s desire for every believer to go into the world and make a difference. But God does not intend for us to do this job alone, nor in our own strength. Paul wrote that we are co-laborers with Christ. Throughout the New Testament, when we read of remarkable events, we often find the Holy Spirit mentioned in the passage. For example:
- In Acts, we read “with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” In the passage, we find that “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” just two verses before this (Acts 4.33, 31).
- At Jesus’ trial, in the courtyard outside the Jewish rulers’ meeting, Peter would not even acknowledge that he knew the Lord. Some months later, after the crippled man at the gate Beautiful was healed, Peter and John were before the same Sanhedrin Council. This time, Peter was bold. “Filled with the Holy Spirit” he declared, “let it be known to all of you . . . that by the name of Jesus . . . whom you crucified . . . this man is standing before you well” (Acts 4.7-12). This bold reply that left a mark on the court only came by Peter and the Holy Spirit working together.
- We also find major direction which impacted the church for decades was given by the Holy Spirit. In Acts 13, as they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” By cooperating with the Holy Spirit, this became a monumental event—the beginning of Paul’s missionary work. From here, the gospel expanded greatly throughout the Roman empire, and much of the New Testament was written as a result.
- On their first stop at Cyprus, Paul met opposition when he was working with government officials and people of influence. But he was “filled with the Holy Spirit,” dealt powerfully with the situation, and more people believed (Acts 9.4-12).
These accounts show us that in order for us to make the mark on the world that God wants us to, we must have His Spirit working through us. It is interesting that many will debate whether we receive the Holy Spirit at the new birth or at a subsequent Pentecostal experience, but most seem to forget that the Word instructs us that fullness of the Spirit must be maintained. There are many Scriptures that support the importance of ensuring that we stay filled. Here are just a few:
In Acts 4.31, the disciples and apostles “were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” This must have been a refill, because they were initially filled in Acts 2:4. A refill of the Holy Spirit is Biblical.
In Acts 6.3, when selecting deacons, one of the requirements was that they were to be “full of the Spirit and wisdom.” And the scripture points out Stephen as being a man “full of faith and the Holy Spirit.” Being full of the Holy Spirit is not just a binary “on” or “off” status. After the initial infilling, it is a sliding scale where we can grow or shrink, just like with faith or wisdom. If everyone were automatically filled to the brim at the new birth, there would have been no need for the apostles to mention being full as a requirement. Being full isn’t optional, it is necessary for effective service.
In Acts 13.52, we find the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. Looking at the context, we find that this is not one of the 5 stories in Acts where people received the initial infilling. It is rather likely that this is an example where disciples received a refill or a “top-up”.
In Eph 5.18, Paul instructs the church to not be drunk with wine, “but be filled with the Spirit.”
The Ephesian church received the initial infilling in Acts 19. Yet, Paul instructs them to be filled. Weymouth translates “.. but drink deeply of the God’s Spirit.” The classic Amplified reads “..but ever be filled.” The initial infilling was often an event that included the laying on of hands, but here Paul gives instructions for the disciples to ensure their own continual fullness.
Build Yourself Up
So, if we need to ensure and maintain the fullness of the Holy Spirit on our lives, we must ask the question: how do we maintain this fullness? Scripture answers this as well:
- Paul told Timothy “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophesy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.” and “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” We need to determine that we will not let these things slip away from us.
- “Earnestly desire the higher [spiritual] gifts.” An earnest desire cannot come without spending time thinking about these things. (1 Cor 12:31 and 14:1)
- In 1 Corinthians 14 it says, “The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself.” In Jude 20, the instruction to “build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit.” Many who consistently see the supernatural in their lives will testify that spending time praying in the Holy Spirit is one of the things enables the finger of God to work through us.
- Eph 5.18 instructs, “Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.” A strong fellowship with the Lord in prayer and in worship is always a hallmark of those who are much used by God.
It is evident that in order to consistently see God intervene in our daily lives, we must have the fullness of the Holy Spirit. By earnestly desiring, not neglecting, but giving ourselves to these things, fellowshipping with the Lord, and continually speaking in tongues, we can remain vibrant, on fire, and can easily go do the work of the ministry—impacting the world.