Filled with the Holy Spirit

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Filled with the Holy Spirit

“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:4)

Have you ever wondered what it means, exactly, to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

Some groups, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, believe that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force, like wind or electricity; that He is not a person and certainly not part of a triune Godhead. One argument they make in support of their position is that one person cannot “fill” another person, only a substance can, so the Holy Spirit cannot be a person. In their Reasoning from the Scriptures book, pp. 380-381, there is this quote: “A comparison of Bible texts that refer to the holy spirit [sic] shows that it is spoken of as 'filling' people; they can be 'baptized' with it; and they can be 'anointed' with it. (Luke 1:41; Matthew 3:11; Acts 10:38) None of these expressions would be appropriate if the holy spirit [sic] were a person.”

Their interpretation is flawed, however. Even this group does not deny that Jehovah God – the Father – is Himself a person. In Jeremiah 23:24 God tells us “‘Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the LORD.” We learn from this Scripture that God does not merely go anywhere in the heavens and earth He wishes, but that He actually fills them; He takes up space. The Father is spirit (John 4:24), and He can fill things, so why couldn’t the Holy Spirit have the same ability?

This brings up an interesting point, too. We know, because God’s Word is true, that the Holy Spirit fills us and that filling involves taking up space, so where in us does the Holy Spirit reside? We as individuals also have spirits, so where in us does our spirit reside, for that matter? I have no answer for this. It’s something I can’t quite wrap my brain around, like the fact that God had no beginning and has lived from eternity past. I can accept it, but I can’t understand how it works from a practical standpoint.

Fortunately though, I don’t have to understand. It’s good enough for me that God understands, and He’s the One in control of everything. Just as it’s good enough for me to know that the Holy Spirit is in me and He teaches me things, comforts me, and intercedes for me (John 14:26). Jesus loved us so much that He didn’t just give His very life for us, but He gave us a Helper who will be with us forever (John 14:16-18). He made sure we wouldn’t have to do life alone. What a precious gift!

Make it stick: What convictions have changed in your life since salvation that show the Holy Spirit is with you? What changes have you seen in others you have known? (John 16:8)

Additional reading: John 20:21-22; 1 Corinthians 3:16

From Sermon MB548    Scripture references from NIV unless otherwise noted.

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