|Topical Bible Study||July 1961|
The Holy Spirit Series—Lesson VII
Filled with the Spirit
IN THE New Testament the expression, “filled with the Spirit,” is used with varying connotations, although in every instance it is clear that the influence, or power of God, is referred to, not a person. It was prophesied that John the Baptist would be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:13-15) Here the thought simply is that John the Baptist would be endued with God’s power and blessing to enable him to accomplish a special reformation work in Israel.
We are told that when Mary, the mother of Jesus, visited Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, that Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:41) This indicates Elisabeth’s great rejoicing over the miraculous events which were occurring in connection with herself and Mary. The power of God was being exercised through both of these women, and to their great joy.
We are told that Zacharias was “filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied” (Luke 1:61) Here is a work of the Holy Spirit similar to that which occurred during Old Testament times in connection with God’s holy prophets.—II Pet. 1:21
The record is that at Pentecost the waiting disciples were filled by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:4) Here the expression, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” denotes a miraculous exercise of divine power, enabling those who were filled to speak in foreign tongues without the necessity of previous study.
The Lord sent Ananias to visit Saul after his experience on the Damascus road, to explain the truth to him, that he might be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9:17) Saul, or Paul, was appointed by God to take the place of Judas, and it was therefore essential that he be filled with the Spirit even as the other apostles were at Pentecost.
There is still another filling of the Spirit, one in which all followers of the Master can participate. (Eph. 5:18,19) It is in the sense that God’s thoughts and plans, as revealed in his Word, disclosing the divine will for them, become the all-absorbing, all-consuming, overwhelming power in their lives.
There are various means which the Lord uses to give his faithful people this infilling of his Holy Spirit as a sacred and sanctifying influence in their lives. One of these is through the study of his Word, which indeed contains the Spirit of the truth.—II Tim. 2:15; 3:16,17
Another important means of being filled with the thoughts of God that they might the more completely influence our lives is through fellowship with his people. (Heb. 10:24,25) Every member of the body of Christ can contribute to the general up-building of all, which leads to the maximum filling of the Holy Spirit.—Eph. 4:15,16
One of the most effective means of being filled with the Holy Spirit is through prayer. (Luke 11:13) Jesus promised that prayers for the Holy Spirit would be answered. We know that the Lord wants his people to be filled with the Holy Spirit, so it is proper and needful that we earnestly petition him to this end. The Holy Spirit is one of the good gifts which the Heavenly Father is pleased to give to his faithful children.—James 1:17
Does the expression, “filled with the Spirit,” in any way suggest that the Holy Spirit is a person?
In what manner was John the Baptist filled with the Spirit?
We are told that Elisabeth was filled with the Spirit. What does this mean?
What is implied by the statement that Zacharias was filled with the Spirit.
At Pentecost, the waiting disciples were filled with the Spirit. What did this experience mean to them?
How was Paul filled with the Spirit when visited by Ananias?
Quote a text of Scripture which denotes that there is a manner in which all the followers of Jesus, if faithful, may be filled with the Spirit. Explain what this means.
Name and explain three of the ways which the Heavenly Father uses to fill his children with his Spirit.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT THOUGHTS
While there are various senses in which the Lord’s people at different times have been and are filled with the Spirit, this expression always denotes the influence of God’s power in the life. A personality is never implied.