How Can I Be Filled With The Holy Spirit?
The Bible tell us that faith in Jesus Christ is enough to receive the gift of his forgiveness and the gift of his Holy Spirit. So the first thing to understand is that all believers are in possession of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, it does not follow that all believers manifest its presence in their lives equally.
To take one example, the Bible describes Stephen as a man “full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). This verse suggests what we might have guessed anyway, namely that there was a correlation between the maturity of his faith and the fullness with which he manifested the presence of the Spirit. So the short answer to our question is this: one becomes filled with the Spirit by cultivating one’s faith in Christ.
What does it mean to cultivate one’s faith in Christ? It means to grow in our knowledge of who he is, in our obedience to what he commands, and in our enjoyment of what he gives. Now these things are obviously a task sufficient for a lifetime, but of course we were not asking how to get the Holy Spirit (as if we didn’t have it). Rather, we were asking how to achieve a fuller manifestation of that which we had already attained by faith in Christ (just as one who has already gotten married still seeks to better understand and love and enjoy their spouse).
What then does it mean to manifest the presence of the Spirit? In the Bible, its initial reception was accompanied by miraculous signs, like speaking in other tongues. But we need to be careful about confusing the outward sign with the inward reality. In the days of Moses, the divine presence was announced with thunder, lighting, and an earthquake (Ex. 19:16). But in the days of Elijah, it came in the form of a gentle whisper (I Kgs. 19:12). And this remains a lesson for us today: the outward sign has already done its work, but it remains for us to seek after the inward reality, which is to say a fuller acquisition of the mind of Christ: his thoughts, his character and his attitudes. Does this mean that signs no longer accompany the operation of the Spirit? Not necessarily, but they will always do so in God’s time and as he wills. In the meantime, we ought to seek eagerly after what Paul calls “the greater gifts”: faith, hope, and most of all love.
Pastor Chad LewisMarch 1, 2016