Walking in the Spirit
One of the most perplexing areas of Christian theology and living, today, is the confusion between the Baptizing work of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Spirit. Many Christians see them as the same thing. They understand the Baptizing work of the Holy Spirit to be a second work of grace that happens to Believers after conversion and is accompanied by speaking in Tongues as a sign of this taking place. Not all who forward this doctrine believe this but many do. It creates a two tiered Christianity of have and have nots. It is a very divisive doctrine that ignores, in my opinion, well-reasoned, Biblical truth. I don’t have the time and the space to get into a detailed explanation of the purpose and nature of gifts, etc., but we know that gifts are given sovereignly by God’s grace and have nothing to do with seeking them. That premise alone leaves this doctrine lacking.
I want to quote from John MacArthur, as he explains what these two dynamics detail. He does an excellent job and covers it concisely and accurately. I am not out to start any theological wars but to teach my flock and help them experience joy filled lives. We are all accepted into Christ by faith and do not need to seek some extra experience. Many Christian spend endless time and energy seeking this, to no avail, and live with little joy. Joy comes from living for Jesus and serving others, not from something the Bible never teaches. So may John’s words encourage us this day:
“Being filled with the Spirit must be distinguished from being baptized with the Spirit. The apostle Paul carefully defines the baptism with the Spirit as that act of Christ by which He places believers into His body (Rom. 6:4–6; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27). In contrast to much errant teaching today, the New Testament nowhere commands believers to seek the baptism with the Spirit. It is a sovereign, single, unrepeatable act on God’s part, and is no more an experience than are its companion’s justification and adoption. Although some wrongly view the baptism with the Spirit as the initiation into the ranks of the spiritual elite, nothing could be further from the truth. The purpose of the baptism with the Spirit is not to divide the body of Christ, but to unify it. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, through the baptism with the Spirit “we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13; cf. Gal. 3:26–27; Eph. 4:4–6).
Unlike the baptism with the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit is an experience and should be continuous. Although filled initially on the Day of Pentecost, Peter was filled again in Acts 4:8. Many of the same people filled with the Spirit in Acts 2 were filled again in Acts 4:31. Acts 6:5 describes Stephen as a man “full of faith and the Holy Spirit,” yet Acts 7:55 records his being filled again. Paul was filled with the Spirit in Acts 9:17 and again in Acts 13:9.
While there is no command in Scripture to be baptized with the Spirit, believers are commanded to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). The grammatical construction of that passage indicates believers are to be continuously being filled with the Spirit. Those who would be filled with the Spirit must first empty themselves. That involves confession of sin and dying to selfishness and self-will. To be filled with the Spirit is to consciously practice the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and to have a mind saturated with the Word of God. Colossians 3:16–25 delineates the results of “letting the word of Christ richly dwell” in us. They are the same ones that result from the filling of the Spirit (Eph. 5:19–33). As believers yield the moment by moment decisions of life to His control, they “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16).”
May we walk in the Spirit,
- Pastor Ralph