Baptism versus Filling of the Holy Spirit

When dealing with the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit it is vital that we under the distinct differences of these two Divine works. At the moment of conversion we are each baptized with the Holy Spirit of God (Matthew 3:11; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Spirit-baptism is a metaphor that describes our reception of the Spirit at the moment of our conversion to Jesus in faith and repentance. When we believe and are justified, we are immersed in and saturated by the Spirit. We are, as a result of this, made members of the body of Christ, incorporated into the church, and can never fall from grace but are sealed by the Holy Ghost of promise (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30). This baptism of the Spirit is an instantaneous, unrepeatable, and permanent miracle of saving grace.

Though there is only one baptism of the Holy Spirit, there are numerous “fillings” of the Spirit. It is clear from the New Testament that through submission to the truth and love for Christ we can be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is also clear that when we reject truth, refusing to walk in obedience, we grieve the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). Typically, the evidence of being filled with the Spirit of God is the power of the Gospel guiding our lives, boldness in proclaiming truth, purity in life, and authentic worship of Jesus. The filling of the Spirit can, but not always, manifest itself through the display of gifts, such as knowledge, prophecy (encouragement and edification through the proclamation of truth) or tongues. In no New Testament text are we ever commanded to be baptized with the Holy Ghost, but we are commanded to be filled with the Spirit.


I am not a cessationalist because I do not believe that Scripture anywhere teaches that gifts of the Spirit have ceased. However, at the same time, when the Spirit moves in power, gifts are only ever manifested in accordance to Biblical revelation. Therefore, if someone speaks in tongues, but does so outside of the Biblical parameters (either speaking their own language and others hearing in their own [Acts 2], or speaking in an unknown language with no more than three doing this and having an interpreter present [1 Corinthians 14:26-28]) then that person is not filled with the Holy Spirit and is actually grieving the Spirit through the disobedience of inspired Scripture. 


So, in these issues of Cessationalism and the gifts of the Spirit of God, it is vitally important that we, as always, run everything through the grid of sacred writ. Cessationalism is not Biblical (and anyone basing it on 1 Corinthians 13 has some major hoops to jump through); but neither is the open chaos and jibberish that is filling many churches today. Our Father is the author of order not confusion, and He has established Biblically how gifts are to be used.


Finally, I will say this, it concerns me greatly today that many Christians get hung up on the filling of the Holy Spirit and whether or not you must speak in tongues, yet there is a complete absence of mandatory holiness, evangelism, prayer, and spiritual discipline in many lives which should always accompany Spirit filling. Tongues has been transformed into a grotesque (and confusing) idol in many churches. All of the gifts of the Holy Spirit have been given to evangelize the lost, edify the body, and bring great glory to our Sovereign. 

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