Chapter 6: Filled with the Spirit

Are you finding this study not just challenging, but a little troubling? Each of us has different histories and have been shaped by different teachings.  You might have a cherished spiritual experience in your past that you have interpreted one way (and been taught to interpret), but now you’re seeing something potentially different in the Word.  This is good.

As we continue to look at Scripture together, let me remind you of what we are doing.  We are looking at the Word of God together.  This study guide was chosen because the workbook portion exposes us to most of the key passages on the Holy Spirit.  There is not much out there that presses us to read the whole Bible’s teaching on the Spirit. However, it doesn’t say everything there is to say about Him, nor does it discuss every passage.  The very passage you treasure may be left out.

Just to be clear again: the goal is your reading and studying the Scriptures.  We know there is a leader’s guide in the back and you may be tempted to go back there to see if you got the right answers.  Instead of looking in the back, how about reviewing the passages once more?  Soak yourself in them.  The pastors do not agree with everything in the leader’s guide.  But they believe the best thing for us all is to look at the Bible itself, to start with the written Word, to be careful with the Word, and to let it shape us.

The goal. I want to state clearly that our prayer for this study is to grow, so that at the end we have more of the Holy Spirit in both knowledge and experience than we had when we began. If God answers this prayer, we will all experience change. J. I. Packer writes:

So I ask you (readers) to check before God your willingness to learn this new supernatural life-style, at whatever cost to your present way of living; for there is nothing so Spirit quenching as to study the Spirit’s work without being willing to be touched, humbled, convicted, and changed as you go along.

Baptized and Filled. Which brings us to this week’s chapter.  Some of us have been taught that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a second experience after conversion.  Some also believe that it is identical to being filled by the Spirit.  This view is based on Acts 2.

We studied Acts 2 in Chapter 3 of this booklet and it led us to a different conclusion, that all Christians are given the Holy Spirit when they believe in Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:38, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Romans 8:9). What then do we believe about being filled with the Spirit? If it’s not a second stage conversion-like experience, then what is it? Do I seek it? Is it automatic? Should I be content with what I’ve got or do I ask for more?

These are good questions, and God will be faithful to answer them as we seek him.

Seek the Lord while he may be found. In fact, God wants us to seek him. Actually, the only people who can seek him are those who have already been found by him.  We sometimes call non-believers “seekers”, but in reality they can’t and don’t seek God. He seeks them.  But once they have been found, they and we are told, “Seek my face.” And we answer, with the Psalmist, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” Psalm 27:8. Those who seek him do indeed find him. Jeremiah 29:13.

Perhaps the answer we will find to our questions is that God doesn’t give a second blessing, he gives a second, third, fourth, fifth, or as many times as we ask, blessing. Because he is a generous God who gives us not just gifts, but Himself.

This week’s verse for meditation. Ephesians 5:18-21

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence of Christ.

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