Some Christians understand their union with the Lord but only half way. “Sure, God is with us, but sometimes he isn’t. He comes and he goes.” It’s true that in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit came upon certain people at certain times, but that was then and this is now.
As a Christian I believe that any person who has been made alive in Christ is given the Holy Spirit. He is described in the Bible as a “seal” we have been given (2Cor. 1:22, Eph. 1:13, Eph. 4:30), and as a promised gift from God (Acts 2:38, Acts 10:45). Throughout the New Testament, even after God ﬁrst poured out the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2 on the day of Pentecost, believers were “ﬁlled” with the Holy Spirit. Yet there is no account in any of the New Testament writings that shows a Christian asking for the Holy Spirit to come. Nor will you hear an instruction from the Apostle Paul telling churches to ask for the Holy Spirit to come in a greater measure. You can look all you want; there’s no sign of it.
Instead, you will hear over and over again the scripture writers and early church leaders telling the believers that they have the Holy Spirit and teaching them how to enjoy Him and not neglect this amazing gift.
Since that day on Pentecost Christians have gotten to enjoy and partake of the most amazing gift on earth…a continual, abiding presence and communion with the Holy Spirit who lives inside each one of us. In fact, Jesus said it would actually be better for us if He left so that we could partake of that amazing reality (John 16:7). Now I don’t believe God is someone who would give us this amazing gift, one better than having Jesus on earth in the ﬂesh, and then constantly have it coming and going from our lives unless we remember to say the “magic prayer” before a church meeting or a difficult math test. The Holy Spirit doesnʼt just show up in a pinch. He doesnʼt leave us when we sin. He is continually dwelling in us (1Tim. 1:14). We are the “temple” of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19).
We have access to the Holy Spirit before, during, and after an anointed worship service happens. Even if the songs are sung off key and the guitarist breaks a string and we don’t “welcome the Holy Spirit” into the meeting, He is just as much there in us as He is when everything goes differently and the worship leader sings our favorite songs on key and we can feel His presence stronger. The option is always there for us to feel and experience the presence of the Spirit who is in us. It is up to us to believe He is always there or not. My desire with this writing and in my life is to see us celebrate the abiding reality of the Holy Spirit in our lives more and to stop focusing so much on getting Him to “show up”.
There are implications to the prayers of “come Holy Spirit” and the like: they imply He is not here now, He needs to come, I will tell Him to come, and then He comes…good Holy Spirit!
We do all that instead of celebrating Him in our midst as the Apostles instructed and led us to do.
Now, if your pastor or leader prays one of these prayers inviting the Holy Spirit, I'm not saying to rebuke them! That is not the point of this writing. I am only trying to present the fact that we do not need to spend so much time focusing on and praying for something that is already a reality. The people who pray those prayers do so with the best of intentions. I just believe that God’s answer to those prayers is this:
“Iʼm already here.”
Rom 8:9 You are no longer ruled by your desires, but by God’s Spirit, who lives in you. People who don’t have the Spirit of Christ in them don’t belong to him.
The Holy Spirit Is Not Gasoline
In lots of places the Holy Spirit is treated like He is fuel. On Sundays people come to church to have their tanks filled up again for the week. By the next weekend their tanks are almost empty and by Sunday morning they can barely muster up the strength to drag their deprived bodies off to church again for a refill. We cannot have half of the Holy Spirit – He either lives in us or He doesn’t.
Hungry and Thirsty for God?
If somebody claims to be hungry or thirsty for God, then they need to get born again, because it’s impossible to be hungry or thirsty for something when in fact you are saturated by it! Here’s what scripture says:
John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
Isa 58:11 The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Psa 107:8-9 They must thank the LORD for his constant love, for the wonderful things he did for them. He satisfies those who are thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
“We Welcome You in this Place Holy Spirit!”
What are we saying when we pray this way? In 1 Cor 6:15-20 we see that even when the believers had sex with the temple prostitutes, the Holy Spirit didn’t leave them or lift off them. In verse 17 it says that our spirits are literally “fused” with the Holy Spirit at salvation – there’s no separating what God bound together! Yes it definitely grieved Him to be forced into a situation where He would be made an up close and personal witness of such an act of foolishness, but not once in the entire New Covenant we find mention of the Holy Spirit forsaking a believer. A believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit at salvation:
Eph 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit
Greek Lexicon G4972 (sealed)
From G4973; to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation (literally or figuratively); by implication to keep secret, to attest: – (set a, set to) seal up, stop.
Its the same principle as when canned / preserved food is manufactured – the good stuff is sealed on the inside for freshness.
So when someone prays for the presence of God or the Holy Spirit to “come” into a meeting, it simply shows they have a very limited idea about what happens to a person when they are born again.
1 Cor 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
Jesus said the Holy Spirit abides with us and makes his home with us (John 14:16–17). By home he means home. You are not a motel room for the Lord. You are a walking, talking, living, breathing temple of the Holy Spirit. He is not going anywhere.
“Are you saying that the Holy Spirit is with me even when I sin?” Yes! Christ’s love for you and his union with you is stronger than any sin.
Under the old covenant, sinning was your fast track to disunion. If you sinned you risked being cut off from the people of God.
Jesus said if your hand or eye causes you to sin, get rid of it (Matthew 5:29–30). Why did Jesus preach self-amputation to those born under the law? Because under that covenant it made sense to talk about removing those parts of the body that might contaminate the whole. Thank the Lord the old covenant is gone! We are not under law but grace, and this is good news for the members of the body of Christ.
When we sin, Jesus does not cut us off; we remain members of his body. This totally changes the way we look at sin.
Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! (1 Corinthians 6:15)
Under the old covenant we were restrained from sin through mortal terror but in the new we are restrained by love. Look again at Paul’s warning about prostitutes. Behind the warning—don’t do it—there is a surprising and reassuring affirmation of union. Paul is saying it is possible, though not advisable, to unite the members of Christ’s body with prostitutes.
Do you see it? Earthly marriages may break and fail, but your union with Christ is unbreakable. Sin cannot break it. Addiction cannot break it. The stupidest decisions you might ever make cannot break it.
This should not be taken as a challenge to see what you can get away with but as a stunning declaration of Christ’s absolute commitment to love you and stick with you no matter what. This is what changes us—not the weak influence of the rule, but the relentless and determined passion of his love.
The love of God is the greatest force in the universe. Sin wilts before it. When you encounter the undaunted and unending love of Christ, it changes you. You no longer want to sin. The passing pleasures of this world lose their appeal because you have found a love that is truer and better by far.
In Acts chapter 4 it says that those gathered were “ﬁlled” with the Holy Spirit. This is after the initial ﬁlling of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. This account is describing their state of existence, that of being “ﬁlled” with the Holy Spirit, its not saying that this was some particularly anointed meeting to which the Holy Spirit “came.” To be ﬁlled is to be FULLﬁlled. It is a sense of completion and fulﬁllment. Nothing is lacking in the person who is ﬁlled with the Holy Spirit. The reality of those gathered in Acts 4 is the same reality that they walked in before that prayer meeting, and its the same reality that we walk in today. We, along with them, are ﬁlled continuously with the Holy Spirit. At times this is manifested in more tangible and experiential ways. Many times when these manifestations happen in scripture we are reminded that these people were “ﬁlled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 4:8, Acts 4:31, Acts 13:9). They had the Holy Spirit both before this manifestation happened and after; it is just being noted that they were ﬁlled with the Holy Spirit in every situation.
What follows are the four occasions in the New Testament where the Spirit fell on new
converts in a dramatic way: Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10, and Acts 19.
People either spoke in tongues, prophesied, or exhibited some other dramatic gift.
The question iswhy?
The Pentecostal thesis says that it’s because speaking in tongues is the normative experience or
“sign” when people are baptized in the Spirit. Instead, I believe the reason why there was a dramatic expression of spiritual gifts (not just tongues) that accompanied these four specific
occasions is because each situation was a new transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant when God’s Spirit would dwell in
and upon the new people of God and through them create a new body on the earth. The body of Jesus Christ.
This was the first time the Jews had received the Spirit and were plunged into the body of Christ. Tongues of fire rested upon their heads.
This signified that the 120 were the new temple of God. Fire fell on the old temple at its dedication. Babel was being reversed (see Gen.11). Instead of confusion, as at the tower of Babel
when they spoke different languages and couldn’t understand one another, there was now unity. Instead of not understanding one
another, they were magnifying God with different languages. And their tongues were understood by the people.
So tongues in Acts 2 served as a dramatic sign that the 120 in Jerusalem were the new Israel, the new temple, the new body, and the reversal of Babel. The prophecy of Isaiah 28 that God
will speak through other tongues was fulfilled. In addition, Acts 2:11 does not say that those
who spoke in tongues shared the gospel with the Jews who were visiting from all over the
Empire. Instead, it says that the visiting Jews heard them “speaking in our own tongues the
great things of God.”This text possesses the language of praise which comports with the idea
that tongues is a prayer language as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 14. They were praising God for
His wonderful works in the languages of the people.
The Samaritans were half Jew, half Gentile. The Jews despised them. Peter and John laid
hands on them to receive the Spirit and the Spirit fell on them in a dramatic way. (Tongues isn’t mentioned, but the Spirit was evidenced in some visible way as indicated by Acts 8:18.)
Because the Spirit came on the Samaritans with the same drama that He had come upon the 120 Jews in Jerusalem, it erased all doubt of the reality of their incorporation into the body. It
demonstrated clearly to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem that God had made the Samaritans part of the same body that they were in.
In Cornelius’ house in Caesarea. This was a small group of Gentiles. The gospel was
coming to the Gentiles for the first time in history. The Spirit fell on them while Peter preached
(probably because Peter wouldn’t have laid his hands on them otherwise, as it was improper and unclean for a Jew to touch a Gentile).
The Spirit fell on the Gentiles in the same dramatic way that He did at Pentecost. So it left no doubt to anyone that God had made the Gentiles part
of the same body as the Jews. (See Acts 11 for Peter’s explanation to the other apostles where he makes this very point).
Paul met twelve men in Ephesus. They were disciples of John the Baptist. They knew the baptism of promise, but not the baptism of fulfillment (the baptism of Christ).
When Paul asked them if they had received the Spirit since/when they believed, he was probably asking:
“Were you baptized into Christ, which endows you with the Holy Spirit? Or were you baptized only in John’s baptism?”
They answered that they had only been baptized with the baptism of
John . . . which looks forward, but doesn’t impart anything.
When Paul found this out, he baptized them in water in Jesus’ name, laid hands on them, and the Spirit fell on them. They spoke in tongues and
prophesied. This dramatic sign made clear that the transition from the era of promise to the era of fulfillment . . . from John’s baptism to
baptism into Christ . . . from the Old Covenant (symbolized by John the Baptist) to the New Covenant . . . was now complete. Again: these men w
ere followers of John the Baptist who had taught about the baptism to come (Luke 3:16). They had been baptized under John in a baptism of anticipation (looking to the Messiah), not of fulfillment.
So the Spirit falling on them served as a dramatic sign that the age of fulfillment that John
prophesied had indeed come and now baptism into Christ was the point where one receives
the Holy Spirit. The disciples of John the Baptist were constituted into the one body in Christ
with the Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. The transition was now complete.
So what is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
Answer: I believe it is the act of the exalted Christ in which He plunges the believers into the Holy Spirit where He comes in and upon them, afford
ing them with His power and life, and incorporating them as members into the very body of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:13 – For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or
Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Acts 2:32-33 – God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God,
he has received from the Father the promised
Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
John 7:38-39 – “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”
But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given,
because Jesus was not yet glorified.
John 14:17 – that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because
He abides with you and will be in you.
Acts 1:5 – for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many
days from now.” (See also Acts 11:16 and Luke 3:16)
Ephesians 2:17-18 – AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE
TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY
[Gentiles], AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR [Jews]; for through Him we both have our
access in one Spirit to the Father. Seek Christ . . . for all gifts, power, insight, virtue, and wisdom are in Him.
In fact, He embodies all of these things
In other words, seek the face of God rather than His hand. Jesus is the human face of God. Every genuine believer has been
baptized in the Spirit and thus we have all been filled with the Spirit (He dwells in us). You
can’t be a Christian and NOT be filled with the Spirit (see Romans 8:9). But once the Spirit initially fills us, we can be filled with the Spirit over
and over again (more on that tomorrow). To be filled with the Spirit means that He is taking
over more areas of our lives. Those who are filled again and again and who are walking in the
Spirit are said to “full of the Spirit.”
In the previous posts of this series, I’ve refuted this way of thinking. One of the things that’s fascinating to me is that
a person who is baptized in the Spirit (which I’ve argued has happened to all believers) can be filled and re-filled with the Spirit. For example
. . .
Acts 4:8 – Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit,
said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people.
(Peter had already been filled with the Spirit in A
cts 2 at Pentecost.)
Acts 4:31 – And when they had prayed, the place whe
re they had gathered together was
shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spir
it and began to speak the word of God with
boldness. (The church here had already been filled
with the Spirit in Acts 2 at Pentecost.)
Acts 13:52 – And the disciples were continually fil
led with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 – And do not get drunk with wine, fo
r that is dissipation, but be filled with the
Spirit. (The Greek here carries the idea of being c
Texts describing people who were full of the Spirit
full of the Spirit”
indicates a person who has allowed the Holy Spirit
to take over a
significant part of their life to where they have a
walk in the Spirit that is evident. It doesn’t
indicate perfection or the inability to make mistak
es. It rather has in view the overall pattern of
a person’s walk.
It’s another way of saying that a person is consume
d with Christ and
they are spiritually
(Spiritual maturity DOES NOT correspond to how long
you’ve been a believer. I’ve met
many Christians who have been in the Lord for 30+ y
ears and they are not terribly mature.)
Acts 6:3 – “Therefore, brethren, select from among
you seven men of good reputation, full of
the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge
of this task. (Stephen was one of them.)
Acts 7:55 – But being full of the Holy Spirit, he [
Stephen] gazed intently into heaven and saw the
glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand
Acts 11:24 – for he [Barnabas] was a good man, and
full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. (See also
Luke 4:1 – And Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit
returned from Jordan and was led by the Spirit
in the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
The marks of a person who is
full of the Spirit”:
* They are
obsessed with Jesus.
The Spirit speaks of and glorifies Christ (John 15:
* Their life and speech get people excited about th
e Lord Jesus and inspire them to follow Him
more fully. (In some translations of Acts 18:25, Ap
ollos is “aglow/excited with the Spirit.”)
* They walk in love; they aren’t selfish. The Spiri
t has shed God’s love in our hearts (Rom. 5:5; 1
* Their speech is edifying and it builds up the bre
thren; it does not tear down the saints.
Tearing down others, gossip, putting others in a ne
gative light, and slander all grieve the Spirit
(Eph. 4:3, 29-30). These sins match the nature of t
he “slanderer” (the meaning of the word
“devil”) and are against the nature of the Holy Spi
* They don’t draw attention to themselves or their
gifts. They draw attention to the Lord Jesus
Christ and they speak well of others (Phil. 2).
* Their lives and speech bring unity rather than di
vision among God’s people (Eph. 2:14-18;
* The fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) is a sure
token of the Holy Spirit’s presence and operation
in their lives. Spiritual gifts can be counterfeite
d, but fruit cannot.
n the NT the Holy Spirit is called:
The Spirit of God
The Spirit of Christ
The Spirit of the Father
The Spirit of the Lord
The Spirit of truth
The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
The Spirit of holiness
The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead
The Spirit of the living God
The Spirit of His Son
The Spirit of Jesus Christ
The Spirit of grace
The Spirit of glory
The Spirit of life
The Comforter (which means Advocate, Counselor, or
Therefore . . .
May the Lord deliver you from the need for tarrying
for the Spirit. If you follow Jesus Christ, you
already have Him.
May the Lord deliver you from the need of a second
blessing. “You have
all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Chris
May the Lord deliver you from needing something els
e from what you’ve already been given in
Christ. For all things are in Christ, and you are
complete in Him
(Col. 2:9-10). You have been
given the privilege of all the riches that dwell in
Him. (Refer to
my audio series on Colossians
May the Lord deliver you into a full and complete r
evelation of what is yours in Christ and into
the full experience of it.
In short: pursue, follow, seek, love, and know the
Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit will be
active in your life in various and sundry ways. The
Spirit’s work is all toward the goal of
conforming you into the glorious image of Jesus.