“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph.5:18-20 NIV).
The Bible introduces us to the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Godhead in the creation story recorded in the book of Genesis. There, he participates in making the earth suitable for animals, plants and mankind. After that, he is mentioned several other times in the Old Testament. On most of these occasions, the Bible speaks of him as “coming” on different individuals. The Spirit of the Lord came on Othniel (Judges 3:10), Gideon (Judges 6:34), Jephthah (Judges 11:29), and Samson (Judges 13:25). He also comes on Azariah (2Chron. 15:1), Saul (1Sam. 10:10) and David (1Sam. 11:6). The Spirit of the Lord came on these persons to enable them to do the particular job to which they were called.
The New Testament refers to the third person of the Trinity as the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, and the Holy Spirit. It is here in the New Testament where the concept of being “filled with the Holy Spirit” is introduced.
John the Baptist
The angel who appeared to Zechariah while he was officiating in the temple, told him that the son his wife was to bear, would be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15). John’s mission was to preach a message of repentance in preparation for the coming of Messiah. There is no record of him performing miracles or having the charismatic gifts, yet the scripture described him as the Elijah that was to come. The Holy Spirit enabled him to fulfil the mission he was sent to accomplish.
After hearing the good news that Elizabeth was pregnant, Mary went to spend some time with her. When Mary entered the house and greeted Elizabeth, the baby she was carrying became excited. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to bless Mary as the future mother of the Messiah (Luke 1:41-45).
Shortly after the birth of John the Baptist, his father Zacharias became filled with the Holy Spirit, and he gave a prophecy concerning the child John (Luke 1:67-79).
The Holy Spirit filled Jesus throughout his earthly ministry. At his baptism by John, the Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. God, with a voice from heaven convincingly affirmed that Jesus was his Son whom he loved (Luke 3:21-22).
At the end of Jesus’ 40 day fast, the devil came to tempt him. He dealt the devil such a humiliating defeat that the devil scampered away from him. Angels then came and strengthened Jesus for the next phase of his ministry.
Jesus then returned to Galilee of the Spirit (Luke 4:14). He went to the synagogue and launched his ministry by reading from the book of Isaiah. He made it known to all present that he was anointed by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel, to heal the sick, to open the eyes of the blind, to set captives free. In short, that Messiah whom Moses and the prophets prophesied about was finally on the scene.
Jesus, throughout his ministry, demonstrated the mighty power and all-encompassing scope of his authority over sickness, disease, nature, demons and all created things. He relied entirely on the Holy Spirit and taught his disciples to do the same. Jesus Christ knew that the Holy Spirit filling his disciples was vitally crucial to the success of the commission he had given them and hence he commanded them to wait in Jerusalem to receive power that would enable them to spread the gospel worldwide (Acts 1:4).
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came and filled the disciples. Tongues of fire sat on each disciple’s head, a violent wind filled the house they were in, and they spoke in different languages as they declared the wonders of God to all who could hear them (Acts 2:1-4).
The rulers were unhappy with Peter and John for preaching in Jesus’ name, so before releasing them, they commanded them not to preach in Jesus’ name any longer. Peter and John made it clear to the authorities that they would obey God. After issuing further threats to the two, the leaders freed them. Peter and John immediately went to see the other believers and reported what took place. The response of the believers was to pray together. They specifically prayed that God would give their leaders boldness to preach the gospel and that God would perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of Jesus. Immediately, the house shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God boldly (Acts 4:21-31).
At Ephesus, Paul found some disciples who had received John’s baptism. Paul instructed them concerning Jesus. He placed his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came on them. They spoke in tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:5-6).
In Acts 10:44-45, Peter was explaining the gospel to Cornelius, the first gentile convert to Christianity. Before Peter could conclude his talk, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the gentiles present. They spoke in tongues and praised God.
Peter and John were arrested for healing a crippled man and for explaining the gospel to a crowd of countrymen who were drawn to the phenomenon. The following day, they were hauled before the elders, rulers and teachers of the law who demanded an explanation of their actions on the day before. Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and boldly told those gathered that it was through Jesus Christ whom they had killed that the crippled man was healed. He went on to say to them that the only way to salvation was found in this same Jesus (Acts 4:5-12).
In Acts 13:9, Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he pronounced a curse of temporary blindness on Elymas for trying to prevent the Proconsul from believing the gospel.
After Paul’s dramatic conversion, God sent Ananias to him that he may get back his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Soon afterwards, Paul began preaching the gospel (Acts 9:17-18).
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Eph. 5:18-20
Jesus promised that those filled with the Spirit will have rivers of living water flowing out of them. John 7:37-39. This quote from the book of Ephesians, by implication, is declaring that a person filled with the Holy Spirit expresses himself in joyful praise and thanks to God. Both Mary and Elizabeth burst into songs of praise when the Holy Spirit filled them. This is indeed indicative of one filled with the Holy Spirit.
Early in the apostolic age of the church, the Grecian Jews complained that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food by the Hebraic Jews. In response to this allegation, the apostles met with the church and suggested that they choose seven men to look after the daily distribution of food to the women to correct the anomaly. The apostles explicitly laid down the criteria by which these men were to be chosen. They were to be full of the Spirit and full of wisdom (Acts 6:1-4). Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible commentary explains the phrase “full of the Spirit” thus:-
“full of the Holy Ghost – not full of miraculous gifts, which would have been no qualification for the duties required, but spiritually gifted (although on two of them miraculous power did rest).”
It is clear from these scriptures that when a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, a variety of things may occur. The physical manifestations would include speaking in tongues, prophesying, preaching the word boldly, praising God, singing to God joyfully, giving thanks to God. God wants believers to be repeatedly filled with the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit fills us, he enables us to accomplish the will of the Father and to complete the task Christ has left for his church. Paul’s admonition for believers to be filled with the Holy Spirit is still relevant today. Lord, fill your children this and every day.