“…be filled with the Spirit” – Part 3

It bears repeating before we look at an essential aspect of being “filled with the Spirit” that this “filling” is not something that can be achieved by willpower, determination, self-discipline, or “grit.”  It is the natural result of a redeemed life yielded to the Lord Jesus Christ and moment-by-moment control by the Holy Spirit. If you are not born-again by faith in Jesus Christ, then all the self-help or self-reformation programs will not produce eternal life. (Read John 3:3-18 for a clear explanation of how faith alone can produce eternal life.)

Lewis Sperry Chafer offers us this gem on the meaning of being filled with the Spirit: *

“It is important to note that three times in the New Testament the effect of strong drink is put over against the Spirit-filled life (Luke 1:15; Acts 2:12-21; Ephesians 5:18). As strong drink stimulates the physical forces and men are prone to turn to it for help over the difficult places, so the child of God, facing an impossible responsibility of a heavenly walk and service, is directed to the Spirit as the source of all sufficiency. Every moment in a spiritual life is one of unmeasured need and super-human demands, and the supply of enabling power and grace must be as constantly received and employed. “As thy day, so shall thy strength be” (Deuteronomy 33:25).

“To be filled with the Spirit is to have the Spirit fulfilling in us all that God intended Him to do when He placed Him there. [See previous posts on Regenerating, Indwelling, Baptizing, Sealing.] To be filled is not the problem of getting more of the Spirit: it is rather the problem of the spirit getting more of us. We shall never have more of the Spirit than the anointing which every true Christian has received. On the other hand, the Spirit may have all of the believer and thus be able to manifest in him the life and character of Christ. A spiritual person, then is one who experiences the divine purpose and plan in his daily life through the power of the indwelling Spirit. The character of that life will be the out-lived Christ. The cause of that life will be the unhindered indwelling Spirit (Ephesians 3:16-21; II Corinthians 3:18).

“The New Testament is clear as to just what the Spirit would produce in a fully adjusted life, and all of this revelation taken together forms the Bible definition of spirituality. These undertakings are distinctly assigned to the Holy Spirit, and are His manifestations in and through the Christian.” [Emphasis added.]


* He That is Spiritual by Lewis Sperry Chafer (pp. 43-44)


“…be filled with the Spirit” – Part 2

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit

Ephesians 5:18

So far, we have looked at five ministries of the Holy Spirit to believers in the Church Age:

    • Regenerating

    • Indwelling

    • Baptizing

    • Sealing

    • Filling

The first four of these happened at salvation, maybe without our knowledge at the time, while the fifth is an ongoing process that is governed by our willingness to submit moment-by-moment and day-by-day to the inner work of the Holy Spirit.

The outline below gives a quick exposition of Ephesians 5:18.*

  1. The Ephesian Christians had been blessed with every “spiritual blessing.” v. 1:3

Evidently you can have “every spiritual blessing” such as the first four in the list above and still not be “filled.” Filling comes after the initial work of the Holy Spirit at salvation.

  1. We are not to think of the Holy Spirit like air or water that is the content of the filling.

Filled means “controlled by” cf. Luke 6:11. It is like the command, “fill the bucket with the hose.” I know that you don’t want me to stuff the hose into the bucket until the hose fills it. Likewise, we don’t put more and more of the Holy Spirit into us until we are “full.” The Holy Spirit is a Person and isn’t measured out a bit at a time. The Third Person of the Triune God lives inside each believer–we have ALL of Him! The Holy Spirit is the one filling us or controlling us. (The Holy Spirit is filling us with what Galatians 5:22-23 calls the fruit of the Spirit.)

  1. The command implies that not all Christians are “filled.”

Commanding us to be filled shows that this is different from Regenerating, Indwelling, Baptizing, Sealing which happen at salvation.

  1. The command proves that the responsibility for the infilling is ours.

We never find a command for any Christian to be indwelled or baptized of Spirit. God never commands us to do something that we are incapable of obeying.

  1. Present tense (in Greek) shows that God wants us to be filled continuously, not merely at times.

Regenerating, Indwelling, Baptizing, Sealing by the Holy Spirit are one-time events. Being filled (controlled) by the Holy Spirit is an ongoing action.

  1. Not to be filled means we are consciously disobeying the Lord’s command and this is sin.

The other command in the first half of the verse, “be not drunken with wine,” is something for which we are responsible. Being drunk means that a person is intoxicated with alcohol and that “spirit” controls their actions. Contrary to the thinking of some in our society, the intoxicated person is responsible for his/her actions when he/she decides to let another spirit control them.

The life of a Christian—a spiritual Christian—is a life controlled by the Holy Spirit.


  • Taken from The Persons of the Triune God, Dr. Alva J. McClain (class notes from Grace Seminary provided by George Zeller, Middletown Bible Church.)


“…be filled with the Spirit” – Part 1

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit

Ephesians 5:18

This will be our theme for the next several months as we examine the activity of God’s Spirit in the life of the believer. Our prior posts were about what the Holy Spirit did in a believer at the moment of salvation. The four that we looked at are among many things that happened when we were saved – Regenerating, Indwelling, Baptizing, Sealing. They required us to do one thing: believe. These were one-time acts that will not be repeated.

Today’s portion on Biblical Spirituality examines an activity of the Holy Spirit that takes place after salvation. Filling of the Holy Spirit involves our constant, willful participation. Ephesians 5:18 is a key, thematic verse which we will exegete (bring out the meaning of the text) in some detail next time.

Today is a short post because I want us to take our time to ponder the verse. I suggest that you memorize it because it is foundational to Biblical Spirituality. It is a verse often misinterpreted. It is at the heart of personal sanctification.

Some things to meditate about this week:

  • The first half of the verse contrasts with the second half. Can you see why?

  • What does it mean to “be filled”? How do we know when we are “full”?

  • be filled with the Spirit” is an imperative (command) in Greek. What does that imply?


A Prayer Meeting by the River

An email from George Zeller arrived in my Inbox this week and I had to post it here! We never know how God has prepared the way ahead of us when we take a step to share Christ with someone. It may be as simple as handing someone a Bible pamphlet, saying something kind to a cashier or bagger at the supermarket, or helping a neighbor. It may be just the lift they need to point them to a gracious and loving God!


“In his second missionary journey, Paul had wanted to go to Asia (probably to Ephesus), but God sent him and his missionary team in a different direction. In a night vision, a man [anér, a male individual] of Macedonia implored them to ‘come and help us’ (Acts 16:9). They obeyed the vision and arrived in Philippi of Macedonia, a city named after Philip, the father of Alexander the Great.

“Ironically, the ‘man’ they came to help turned out to be a group of women: ‘And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither’ (Acts 16:13). On this Sabbath [Saturday[, the day when the Jews would rest from their labors and worship, Paul and his companions went to a place where a group of women customarily met to pray to God. There they sat with and spoke to the women who had gathered to pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

“What a touching scene it must have been! A group of devout women met by this scenic riverbank to call upon the name of the Lord. How we each need to develop prayer habits so as to meet with the Lord both alone and at times with other God-fearing souls. How fitting it is to find a quiet gathering place in the midst of God’s creation, far from the distractions and interruptions of the world!

“Consider how the Lord Jesus would often do the same: ‘He went up into a mountain apart [by Himself] to pray’ (Matt. 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16). These women had been prepared by prayer and were ready to hear the Gospel message! From this humble prayer gathering the great church at Philippi could trace its origin.”

~George Zeller: www.middletownbiblechurch.org




Ministries of the Holy Spirit – Sealing

“‘And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption’ (Ephesians 4:30. See also, II Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13). The ministry of the Spirit in sealing evidently represents the Godward aspect of the relationship – authority, responsibility, and a final transaction. It is ‘unto the day of redemption.’ The Spirit Himself is the seal and all who have the Spirit are sealed. This ministry of the Spirit is also performed when faith is exercised for salvation, and this ministry could not be repeated since the first sealing of any believer is ‘unto the day of redemption.’

“There are then, four ministries of the Spirit for the believer which are wrought the moment he is saved and are never accomplished a second time. He is said to be born, indwelt (or anointed) baptized, and sealed of the Spirit. It may also be added that these four operations of the Spirit in and for the child of God are not related to an experience. The Spirit may actualize all this to the believer after he is saved and it may then become the occasion for most blessed joy and consolation. These four general ministries which are performed in and for believers alike constitute the ‘Earnest of the Spirit’ (II Corinthians 1:22,; 5:5), and the ‘Firstfruits of the Spirit’ (Romans 8:23).”

From He That is Spiritual by Lewis Sperry Chafer (pp. 38-39)

Our study in Biblical Spirituality continues with the ministry of the Holy Spirit in filling the believer.

Being “Filled with the Spirit” is the biblical term for true spirituality.


The Great Magnet

The Great Magnet

John 12:23-33

Three crosses were seen on Calvary’s hill. The center cross was the cross of redemption as the Saviour bore our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). The center cross was meant for Barabbas whose name means “son of the father.” The Jewish people wanted Pilate to release this murderer and crucify the Holy One in his stead (Acts 3:14). As a result, the true “Son of the Father” went to the cross to suffer for sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones (1 Peter 3:18). Two criminals died, on the Lord’s left and right. One malefactor refused to believe. His was the cross of rejection. The other evildoer initially hurled insults at Christ (Matt.27:44), but later changed his mind and believed (Luke 23:39-43). His was the cross of reception.

Each cross carried a message. One Man died for sins, in the sinner’s place. One man died in his sins (John 8:24); the other man died with his sins forgiven (Acts 10:43).

Our Lord once predicted that when He would be lifted up on the cross. He would draw all men unto Himself (John 12:32-33). A magnet attracts metal; the center cross attracts all mankind. All men are drawn to the center cross where a decision must be made.

We each must answer this question: What will I do with Jesus who is called the Christ? (Matthew 27:22). Will I receive Him or reject Him? Which evildoer will I imitate? All men are drawn to the center cross where they must consider the crucified One and decide what they will do with Him. We can see the cross as foolishness or we can see the cross as the wisdom and power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18, 24).

We can receive Him or reject Him. Our decision will determine our destiny.

George Zeller: www.middletownbiblechurch.org


Ministries of the Holy Spirit – Baptizing (2)

“The full Bible teaching of this theme is presented in a very few passages: Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16; Romans 6:3-4; I Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:12. Of these passages, only one unfolds the meaning, “For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:13, cf. Romans 6:3). In no Scripture is this ministry of the Holy Spirit directly related to power or service. It has to do with the forming of the body of Christ out of living members, and when one is united vitally and organically to Christ, he has been “baptized into one body,” and has been “made to drink of one Spirit.”

“Being a member of the body of Christ anticipates service; but service is always related to another ministry than the baptism of the Spirit. Since the baptism of the spirit is the organic placing of the believer into Christ, it is that operation of God which establishes every position and standing of the Christian. No other divine undertaking in salvation is so far reaching in its effect. It is because of this new union to Christ that a Christian can be said to be “in Christ,” and being “in Christ” he partakes of all that Christ is—His life, His righteousness, and His glory. The unbeliever enters completely into this union with Christ the moment he believers.

“[In two synoptic Gospels the promise of the baptism with the Spirit is accompanied with the promise of baptism with fire (“I [John the Baptist] indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he [Jesus the Messiah] that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” Matthew 3:11; “John [the Baptist] answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I [Jesus the Messiah] cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” Luke 3:16). Just what is meant by a baptism with fire has been the subject of much discussion. “Cloven tongues like as of fire” (Acts 2:3), sat on a few on the Day of Pentecost; but this has not been the experience of all believers. The judgment of the believer’s works at the judgment seat of Christ ( I Corinthians 3:9-15; II Corinthians 5:10) is the only contact with fire which is determined for all who are saved. It is therefore probable that this judgment is the baptism with fire. There is a deep correspondence between the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the baptism with fire. As the baptism with the Spirit provides the saved one with a perfect standing for time and eternity, so the baptism with fire will provide the saved one with a perfect state which will fit him for heaven itself. At the judgment seat of Christ, His eyes of fire (Revelation 1:14) will burn away all the dross and only that which is heavenly will abide.]

“The organic relationship to the body of Christ is accomplished as a part of the great divine undertaking in salvation which is performed when saving faith is exercised. There is no indication that this baptizing ministry of the Spirit would be undertaken a second time.”


He That is Spiritual by Lewis Sperry Chafer (pp. 37-38)


Five ministries of the Holy Spirit to believers in the Church Age:

        • Regenerating

        • Indwelling

        • Baptizing

        • Sealing

        • Filling


Ministries of the Holy Spirit – Baptizing (1)

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,

whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free;

and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

I Corinthians 12:13

This is the key verse for the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. As always, the meaning of this verse is drawn from the context in which it appears. Three things to note:

This is not referring to water baptism

The literal meaning of the Greek word BAPTIZO is to immerse, submerge, soak, saturate in something. An example is plunging a garment into a container of dye to color the entire garment.

The word baptize (immerse) is also used figuratively in the Bible about a person being completely saturate or entirely immersed in or by an experience or circumstance. For example, John the Baptists literal baptizing his followers in water is extended to another “baptism” that is not with water, but the Holy Spirit to denote a complete, all-consuming experience. Figuratively then, being baptized “by fire” would change a person to the core.

Matthew 3:11 I [John the Baptist] indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he [Jesus] that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

The context of I Corinthians 12:13

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” describes the agent (the Holy Spirit) and the method (immersion) and the act (placing into the Body of Christ). Speaking about the body of Christ in the context (later described as the church, which is His Body, Ephesians 1:22-23), Paul explains how God the Holy Spirit places the believer into His Son.

Being a Christian is synonymous with being “in Christ.

The Bible knows nothing about a believer who is not “in Christ.”

Galatians 3:26-28 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Paul says: You were saved by faith in Jesus Christ (v. 26). You have also been baptized into Christ (v.27a) and as a result, you are to “wear” Christ every day like you would a shirt or coat (v. 27b). Thus, you are all one in Jesus Christ because you are in His Body (v.28).

We see then that water baptism does not place a believer into Christ’s Body, but the Holy Spirit who does that work. Most (if not all) Baptist churches require baptism by immersion in water for church membership and this is biblical. A few Baptist churches go a step further and believe that water baptism is necessary to become a member of the Body of Christ. That is unbiblical.

Galatians 3:26-28 + I Corinthians 12:13 makes it clear that God the Holy Spirit is the agent who, through a complete, spiritually immersive act, places us into the Body of Christ.


Useful references from Pastor George Zeller, Middletown Bible Church, Middletown, CT:

The Charismatic Movement—35 Doctrinal Issues

Does Water Baptism Save? (A Biblical Refutation of Baptismal Regeneration)

Spirit Baptism and I Corinthians 12:13 [Including Important Grammatical Considerations]

From Got Questions Ministries:

What does it mean to be in Christ?


Ministries of the Holy Spirit – Indwelling

“…there can be no such thing as a Christian who is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This truth is so emphatically declared in the New Testament that it seems almost impossible that any other view could ever have been entertained.” – Lewis Sperry Chafer

There is nothing more important to understanding and practicing spirituality than the foundational works of the Holy Spirit as explained in the Bible: Indwelling, Baptizing, Sealing, and Filling. Countless erroneous (even damaging) ideas about how to please God as a Christian in the age of Grace have sprouted from man’s imagination and not from God’s instruction manual. That the Holy Spirit has taken permanent residence in the believer is the bedrock principle upon which a spiritual life is built.    

“From the doctrinal viewpoint or as a foundation for all truth respecting the relation between the Holy Spirit and the believer in the present age, there is no more characterizing or determining fact than that the Holy Spirit indwells every regenerated person. To fail to recognize the body of Scripture upon which this distinction in doctrine rests is to misapprehend one of the most essential factors in the Christian’s being, to conceive of the Christian as totally unprepared for the high and holy requirements which are laid upon him, to open the door for the promotion of unscriptural assumptions relative to persona holiness, and to create unwarranted divisions in teh Body of Christ. No student should pass over this aspect of truth lightly. No progress can be made in the knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s relation to the believer until the feature of the doctrine of the Spirit is recognized and accepted as declared by the Sacred Text.” *

The spiritual regeneration of a person by the Holy Spirit is the result of faith in Jesus Christ of the Bible: the incarnate Son of God who was crucified, died, was buried, rose again, and is exalted in Heaven. The new birth is the result of faith that does not happen unnoticed. The believer must know that he or she is born again. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is one of many things that happen to a new creation in Christ upon salvation. A new believer is unaware of most of the events in this “salvation package” until they grow in the Lord.. **

Chafer comments on this: “…the presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer may not be indicated by any corresponding revolutionary experience, His indwelling is nonetheless one of the most characterizing of all the features which constitute a Christian what he is. The Spirit indwells without necessarily engendering an experience…” *

A few key texts about the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer (in their order by books):

John 14:16-17

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

Having taken up His abode in the believer, His presence is never removed. (See II Corinthians 5:5 below.)

Romans 8:9

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 12:13

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

II Corinthians 5:5

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

The “earnest” spoken of here is like a down payment or an engagement ring that seals a promise that will be completely fulfilled or consummated in the future. This is evidence in the believer that all of God’s promises for us will be kept.

Galatians 4:6

And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

I John 3:24; 4:13

And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.


* Systematic Theology – Pneumatology (Volume VI) by Lewis Sperry Chafer

** 215 Things That Are True of Me, Now That I Am Saved; Sunday School Notes from Pastor George Zeller, Middletown Bible Church, Middletown, CT.


Five ministries of the Holy Spirit to believers in the Church Age:

      • Regenerating

      • Indwelling

      • Baptizing

      • Sealing

      • Filling


Ministries of the Holy Spirit – Regenerating

“The primary instance of the Holy Spirit’s work in regeneration is found in Titus 3:5, which reads: ‘Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.’ To be sure, the truth which this term expresses is set forth in many Scriptures and under various terms, but then always as a work of the Holy Spirit.

“The background of the doctrine of regeneration is its necessity springing from the universal fallen estate of man. Since the need is world-wide, the demand for regeneration is imperative in the case of every person born into the world. None can be excepted other than the Christ of God. In His conversation with Nicodemus by night (John 3:1-21), Christ recognized as acceptable to God nothing of the model character and attainments in Judaism on the part of this ruler in Israel. It was to such a one that Christ said: ‘Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again,’ [or,. born from above]; and to the same purpose Christ said: ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’”*

“The believer is born ‘of the Spirit’(John 3:6) and has become a legitimate child of God. He has ‘partaken of the divine nature’ and Christ is begotten in him ‘the hope of glory.” As he is a child of God, he is also an ‘heir of God, and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ.’ The new divine nature is more deeply implanted in his being than the human nature of his earthly father or mother. This transformation is accomplished when he believes, and is never repeated; for the Bible knows nothing of a second regeneration by the Spirit.”**

The Lord said, ‘The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly’ (John 10:10). Upwards of eighty-five New Testament passages bear on this fact of an imparted divine life. No change in the human estate could be conceived which is as far-reaching and effective as that of an actual birth into a legitimate and actual filial relationship with God. Salvation is a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17) which is wrought by the Holy Spirit as the Executor of the Godhead.”*


* Systematic Theology – Pneumatology (Volume VI) by Lewis Sperry Chafer

** He That is Spiritual by Lewis Sperry Chafer

Five ministries of the Holy Spirit to believers in the Church Age:

        • Regenerating

        • Indwelling

        • Baptizing

        • Sealing

        • Filling