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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Reception of the Holy Spirit: Applications

I hope that in the last few posts I've demonstrated from the Bible that the Holy Spirit is received by believers in Christ in two ways: within for regeneration at conversion and upon for power usually subsequent to conversion.  I want to conclude with some points of application that I think make or break our effectiveness as servants of God.

1. We get the Holy Spirit upon us by asking for him.  When we looked at the Spirit upon, we saw that receiving and maintaining the Holy Spirit in this way is actually commanded in Ephesians 5:18-21 and 2 Timothy 1:6-7.  Never in the New Testament are believers commanded to receive the Spirit within, because it would be to no purpose—a person who is still dead in their transgressions and sins has no interest in receiving the Holy Spirit, much less ability to do so.  The Spirit takes the initiative to enter the person and bring him or her to life.  But once the person has been awakened, God calls that person to receive the Holy Spirit upon to empower his or her confession of Christ.

So, how does a person answer God's call?  Fortunately for us, it could hardly be simpler, and Jesus lays it out plainly:
So I tell you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks the door will be opened.  What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg will give him a scorpion?  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! [Luke 11:9-12]
All we need to do is ask!  That's it!  We know that Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit upon, not within, in large part because this text appears in the Gospel of Luke, and as we've seen, Luke speaks of receiving the Holy Spirit exclusively in terms of the Spirit upon.  Jesus says that everyone who asks the Father for the Holy Spirit receives him.  Everyone!  It's a guarantee!  Now, the timing isn't guaranteed.  Precisely how the Holy Spirit manifests himself in your life, aside from boldness to proclaim the glory of God in Christ, is not guaranteed either.  And though the trigger is asking, there's a big difference between a casual, half-hearted request and the kind of prayer that the apostles and company engaged in continually for ten days before the Spirit fell upon them on Pentecost.  God wants to see that you're serious.  Nevertheless, at root, receiving the Holy Spirit upon you is as simple as asking your Dad.

2. Why do we expect evangelism to work if we're not filled with the Holy Spirit?  It is amazing how we rely on our own efforts when it comes to evangelism.  For one, we are so obsessed with technique and program.  Technique and program can be useful tools, but trying to bring someone to faith in Christ just using those tools is like trying to build a house with tools but no builder to wield them.  Moreover, 90+% of Christians don't even make the attempt to evangelize; they're scared and feel inadequate.  Why would they evangelize if they don't have the power of the Holy Spirit that both makes them effective in evangelism and implants a drive to be bold about their faith that they can't resist?

We are so wrapped around words when it comes to evangelism—"what do I say?"  We're afraid that if we say the wrong thing, we'll screw everything up.  Well, words are important.  In some cases, a misplaced preposition is the difference between the gospel and heresy.  But at the same time, words themselves, even God's Word itself, aren't expected to change anybody's life alone.  The perfect articulation of the gospel, by itself, will always be met with hostility or more likely an indifferent shrug.  The Word converts people because of the power of the Holy Spirit on the person who speaks it and in the person who hears it.  The New Testament knows no other kind of conversion.  Paul says, "My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and power, so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:4-5).  Shockingly, verbose Paul goes even further two chapters later when he bluntly asserts, "The kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power" (1 Cor. 4:20, NASB).

Jesus actually told his closest followers, witnesses of his life, death, and resurrection, people whose minds had been opened to understand the Scriptures, the best-qualified evangelists in history, to stay put and not to tell anyone their life-changing message until they had been clothed with power from on high.  When the Spirit then came, 3,000 were saved in one day.  Centuries later, if we aren't seeing people repenting of sin and coming to Jesus, and we also don't see evidence of the Holy Spirit upon us and our churches in power, should we conclude that this is merely a coincidence?

3. The laying-on of hands needs to make a comeback.  It appears to have been a pattern going back to the earliest days of the church to lay hands on people after they had been baptized into the name of Jesus in water and ask the Lord to baptize them in the Holy Spirit.  (In a previous post I noted this in Acts 8:16-17; 19:5-6; and it's implied in 2:38).  Has Christ in heaven baptized people in the Holy Spirit apart from this process?  Certainly; Cornelius and his household are a prime example.  But the laying-on of hands after water-baptism seems to have been established as the typical procedure.

In baptistic traditions like my own, we need to bring this back.  This past Easter, when believers that I baptized came up from the water, I laid my hands on them and prayed for God to pour out his Spirit on each one.  In traditions that baptize infants (paedobaptistic), the laying-on of hands still figures in to the rite of confirmation, and it does traditionally relate to the gift of the Holy Spirit as he came on Pentecost (see, e.g., the Compendium of the Catholic Catechism, nos. 265-268). But the significance of the act needs to be emphasized, particularly in light of the two modes of reception that I've been talking about (which is not always made clear in paedobaptistic traditions).

In addition, in the run-up to baptism or confirmation the candidates need to be taught about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and encouraged to seek it for themselves.  We read in an ancient document called the Didache (did-ah-KAY), which was probably written while some of the apostles were still alive, "And before the baptism, let the one baptizing and the one who is to be baptized fast, as well as any others who are able.  Also, you must instruct the one who is to be baptized to fast for one or two days beforehand" (7.4).  What are they to be fasting for?  The text doesn't say, but I think they were all praying with fasting that the Holy Spirit would fall upon the baptized.  We need to revive this practice or something like it.  I plan to do so the next time I prepare people for baptism.

4. Don't stop asking.  We've seen that although the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a single event that inaugurates the experience of the Spirit upon a believer, nevertheless those who are so baptized may be filled repeatedly ever after.  Therefore, we must never cease to ask to be filled ever more with the Holy Spirit, or to use the term Paul employed to Timothy, to "reignite the gift of God."  Those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit have not "arrived."  That baptism is the beginning of experiencing the Spirit in his fullness, not the end.  It is worth remembering the example of Saul/Paul, Barnabas, and their colleagues in Antioch (Acts 13:1-4), who served God with fasting and prayer, out of which they heard the Holy Spirit tell them to set apart Saul and Barnabas for a special mission.  They then laid their hands upon them and prayed with more fasting before sending them out.  If those spiritual giants repeatedly called on God for more power, shouldn't we?

5. Our significance comes from being baptized into Jesus, not baptized in the Holy Spirit.  While we're on the subject of Christians who haven't "arrived" because of their experience with the Holy Spirit, I might as well take a swing at charismatics and Pentecostals.  It is painfully common that those who have received the Holy Spirit upon themselves quickly turn toward those who have not received the gift that way and insinuate that they have a problem, that they are somehow defective.  Now, from one angle there's some truth to this in the sense that, as we've seen, being filled up by means of the Holy Spirit is a command of the Lord, because it is a necessary ingredient to fulfilling other commands like proclaiming the gospel everywhere.  Properly, it is not an optional thing.

However, it should not escape our notice that Paul the Apostle wrote three whole chapters of one of his letters to address the very issue of how those who have been empowered by the Holy Spirit should treat other believers: 1 Corinthians 12-14.  In this amazing passage of Scripture Paul insists that all believers have been baptized by means of the Holy Spirit's regenerating, cleansing work into the one body of Christ, and all have been given him to drink as part of salvation (see earlier post).  All—Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, and I would add young or old, educated or uneducated, hip or square, traditional or contemporary, high-church or low-church, spiritually strong or weak, and even charismatic or cessationist—are of Christ through faith.  So any denigration of those who have not yet been baptized in the Holy Spirit is denigrating a member of Christ's body that each other member needs for health and survival.  Go read 1 Corinthians 13 again: it wasn't written to be read at weddings but at "full gospel" worship services.

I've met charismatics who tie themselves in knots about their saved friend or family member who hasn't shown evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Would you please just chill out!  Go ahead and pray for them, but also remember what Jesus said when his disciples returned after healing and throwing demons out of people: "Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names stand written in heaven" (Luke 10:20).  No matter how great the Spirit upon us is and no matter how badly neglected this reality is in many quarters today, the salvation bought by Christ and effected by the Spirit within every believer is an incomprehensibly greater gift.

6. "Wives, submit to your husbands" doesn't make sense apart from the Spirit upon.  This point of application is quite different than the ones that precede it, but I think it's worth mentioning.

"Complementarian" is a label that belongs to those who, on the basis of Scripture, view men and women as equal in value but who also maintain that leadership in the home and in the church are roles specific to men to fill.  A major plank in the complementarian platform is Ephesians 5:22-33, in which Paul commands wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives and thereby to act out the relationship between the church (wife) and Christ (husband).  Complementarians rightly point out that even though "submit" and "love" often look alike in the daily grind of marital life, they are not strictly the same, and to say that they are is to suggest a heretical equivalence of function and leadership between Christ and the church on the basis of the parallel with husband and wife.

"Egalitarians" are people who, on the basis of Scripture, hold that though the work of Christ does not abolish men's and women's distinct sexual natures in this life, it does abolish differentiation in rank and role on the basis of different sexual natures.  Ephesians 5:22-33 is not their favorite Scripture passage.  (Galatians 3:28 is.)  But since it's in the Bible and they have to deal with it, egalitarians point out that Ephesians 5:22—"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord"—is not a complete sentence in the Greek; it is actually close to the end of a sentence beginning in v. 18.  Connected to the verse before it reads, " . . . submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ, [including] wives to your husbands as to the Lord."  Egalitarians argue that the submission of wife to husband is just a subset of the submission that all believers, male and female, are to show to each other, and in terms of grammatical analysis I believe that it is impossible to disagree with them.

However, both complementarians and egalitarians generally fail to consider "Wives, submit to your husbands" in light of the verb that heads the whole sentence in v. 18.  The whole sentence says (as I translate it), "Don't get drunk with wine . . . but use the Spirit to get full, with the result that you speak to each other with psalms . . . return thanks always . . . and submit to each other in the fear of Christ, including the wives to their husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. . . . "  In other words, wives submitting to their husbands hinges on wives being filled up through the Holy Spirit upon them.

Now, this does not mean that wives on whom the Holy Spirit has not fallen do not need to submit to their husbands as to the Lord.  But it does mean that telling a wife who is not living in the fullness of the Spirit to submit to her husband puts the cart before the horse.  It may be ethically correct but it is not pastorally wise.

To grossly simplify things, imagine two different scenarios in a Christian family in the province of Asia.  In the one the wife is strong-willed and rebels against the leadership of her husband, doing her own thing despite his wishes.  The reactivity she displays toward him suggests that she's missing something within herself that causes her to be emotionally wrapped around him in an unhealthy way.  She is somehow empty and needs to be full of what really fills just like the alcoholic in v. 18 does.  She needs to be filled by means of the Holy Spirit.  Once she receives him, out of that fullness she has the confidence that enables her to submit to her husband without feeling like she's losing herself, because she knows that God has given her a purpose and authority through the Holy Spirit that her spouse cannot take away.  In the other scenario, the wife is bossed around, perhaps abusively, by her husband; she is weak in the relationship in addition to her vast social weakness in her ancient community.  Now instructing her to submit to her husband is really not helpful, because already her submission out of fear results in her being crushed.  Fortunately, she becomes saved by grace and instructed about the gift of the Holy Spirit.  When she receives the gift of the Spirit upon herself, she is so transformed and emboldened, just as the disciples were at Pentecost, that her husband hardly recognizes her.  In fact, far from being won over to the faith, he is feeling threatened by the enormous supernatural confidence displayed by his Spirit-filled wife.  It is only now that it is appropriate for the wife to be instructed to submit to her husband and to direct her spiritual power according to love rather than using it to upend the order of the household.

In both of these situations, the instruction for wives to submit to their husbands doesn't make practical and pastoral sense unless they are filled up by means of the Holy Spirit upon themselves.  How much damage has accidentally been done to women who have been counseled to submit to their husbands without first being instructed properly about the power of the Holy Spirit, without which the command to submit is in some way inapplicable?

Finally . . . I hope you've gotten something out of this series on the reception of the Holy Spirit.  I can truthfully say that studying this subject has changed and is changing my life and ministry.  I can't imagine how many others in the church would be changed if they examined the New Testament carefully and faithfully on this matter and took its implications seriously.

If you'd like to hear more, especially about how this doctrine relates to the mission of the church, view or listen to my sermon "Taking the Show on the Road" (in the list midway down the page).  An even better message is a lecture that preaches like a sermon by Mark Driscoll called "The Spirit-Filled Missional Ministry of Jesus."  You have to be a devotee of Reformed theology to get everything he's saying (both he and his audience are), but even if you're not you'll still be built up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Reception of the Holy Spirit: Flexible Terms and Blended Situations

Now that we've looked closely at the New Testament's teaching and verbiage related to the Spirit within and the Spirit upon, it's valuable to look at instances in which the line between these two modes is blurred.  First we'll take a look at vocabulary that New Testament authors employ to describe both the Spirit within and the Spirit upon, and then we'll look at situations in which the Holy Spirit's activity cannot be easily separated into the two modes because he is being received in both ways at roughly the same time.

In my previous post I noted that a metaphor for the Spirit within is water while a metaphor for the Spirit upon is fire.  Another metaphor for the Holy Spirit is wind—fitting since the Greek pneuma can be translated either "spirit" or "wind" (or also "breath") according to context.  In John 3:5-8, Jesus speaks of those who are "born of the wind [Spirit]," which we know from earlier in the chapter (and saw previously) refers to the Spirit indwelling the believer and bringing him or her to new life.  (Indeed, such persons are born of water as well as wind.)  However, Luke records that when the Holy Spirit came upon the believers on Pentecost, the tongues of fire upon them were also accompanied by the sound of a rushing wind (Acts 2:1-4).  It seems that "wind" is a flexible metaphor for the Holy Spirit that can apply to him either within or upon the believer.  We see the same flexibility in the metaphor of oil by which the believer is anointed by God.  Paul and John use the term "God anointing with the Holy Spirit" with respect to the Spirit's indwelling work to establish, give hope to, and instruct the believer (2 Cor. 1:21-22; 1 John 2:27).  By contrast, Luke uses the same term to refer to the descending Spirit's work to empower God's servant (Acts 10:38).

You may have noticed by now an interesting diversity among New Testament writers.  The three writers who talk the most about the Holy Spirit are John, Paul, and Luke.  (Peter does as well, but we don't have nearly as much of writing from him to go on.)  Most of the time, though by no means always, when John and Paul write about the Holy Spirit they talk about the Spirit dwelling within all believers to attach them to God in Christ.  Luke, on the other hand, exclusively talks about the Spirit coming on believers to embolden and empower their confession of Christ.  So for example, some of the most common terms for the reception of the Holy Spirit in Scripture are "God giving the Holy Spirit" (and the less common "God sending the Holy Spirit") and the believers "receiving the Holy Spirit."  Paul and John usually use these terms to refer to the Spirit within.  Luke always uses them to refer to the Spirit upon.

Before moving ahead there are a couple of rare terms that appear in Jesus' Upper Room Discourse in the Gospel of John that require discussion.  Three times in John 16:7-15 Jesus refers to "the Holy Spirit coming to" his disciples.  Jesus says that the paráklētos would come after he ascended into heaven and that the result would be powerful conviction, which are things we expect of the Spirit upon.  But the result of the Spirit coming to the disciples was also that he would guide them into all truth, which we expect from the Spirit within.  This is another flexible term.  The other odd term is "the Holy Spirit being/remaining with" Jesus' disciples, which appears twice in John 14:16-17.  The Holy Spirit had already been with them, but Jesus wanted them to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit so that he would be with them forever.  The explanation that makes the most sense is that the Holy Spirit was with them in and on the person of Jesus himself.  When Jesus returned to the Father, the Spirit would go too unless and until he was sent to the disciples themselves.  But this term has no bearing on how the Spirit would be received, whether within or upon or both.

Interestingly, just as some terms mix the two modes of the reception of the Spirit within and upon, the practical situations of some believers in the New Testament (and hopefully today as well) show a similar mixture.  The most obvious example is the household of Cornelius, which I talked about last time.  For these Gentiles, their belief in the gospel and regeneration seem to have come simultaneously with their baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in other languages, even before water-baptism (Acts 10:44-48)!  The two modes of receiving the Holy Spirit blended into a single experience.  Another noteworthy example is "the gospel coming by the Holy Spirit" to the Thessalonian believers (1 Thess. 1:5-6).  The evidence that they really believed the word—that is, were really converted through the Spirit's indwelling, regenerating work—consisted of the powerful miracles, rock-solid confidence, and joy amid suffering that the Holy Spirit upon them had given them just as he had to the apostles themselves.  (The obvious authenticity of the Thessalonians' faith is probably akin to "being a letter written with the Holy Spirit [like ink]" as Paul describes the Corinthian believers in 2 Cor. 3:2-3.)  In the same way, in Galatians 3:2-5 Paul describes the Galatian believers as "beginning by the Holy Spirit," which suggests conversion (through the Spirit within), asserting that they would be foolish to finish by the flesh.  (Indeed, the approach they should have been taking in their Christian lives is outlined in 2 Cor. 3:17-18: "the Holy Spirit transforming" them into the glory of the Lord visible in the clear preaching of Christ.)  But in the same section Paul also describes "God providing the Spirit" to them in terms of the supernatural miracles God was working among them (through the Spirit upon).  With the Thessalonians, the Galatians, and presumably the Corinthians, when they received the Holy Spirit, the one mode of reception naturally led to or involved the other.

There is an intriguing biblical example of this process breaking down in the case of the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews "being partners in [God's grant of] the Holy Spirit."  Hebrews 6:4-6 states that anyone who has become partners in the grant of the Holy Spirit—which the author equates with being enlightened and tasting the heavenly gift, the good word of God, and the power of the coming age—can't be renewed to repentance if they fall away.  The way I look at this is that if the readers had experienced the power and conviction by the Holy Spirit that the Thessalonians had experienced, but unlike them (1 Thess. 3:5-8) they later demonstrate that their faith had not been genuine because they turn away from the gospel, they won't be brought back to repent again as they had done ingenuinely the first time.  Despite their initial seeming acceptance of the message, they really had been "resisting the Holy Spirit" just as the Jewish Council had (Acts 7:51-53).  The Spirit was upon those who spoke to them as he had been on Stephen and perhaps on genuine believers among them as well.  They all could see, hear, and feel the power of God and were impacted by it whenever they got together.  It led them to make a confession.  But the Spirit had never actually entered into them and brought them to life.  So their reception was really a nonreception, merely a temporary place in the community in which the Spirit had truly been received by some.

So what do we learn from all this?  First, even though the Spirit comes to the believer in two ways, within and upon, sometimes New Testament authors could be messy about how they described it, according to their interests, using certain terms in a generic, nonspecific way.  Second, life itself could be messy, with people being converted through the Spirit within and being empowered by the Spirit upon more or less simultaneously—or at least, even if this did not happen often to many individual believers, it was how the church as a collective unit experienced it.  In fact, this seems to have been a pretty common experience in the missionary situation of the first century.

In the next post I'll present some thoughts on the "so what" of this whole investigation.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Reception of the Holy Spirit: The Spirit Upon

In my last post I wrote at length about how every converted believer in Jesus Christ receives the Holy Spirit within and about the blessings that come from that.  In this post I'm going to do the same about the Holy Spirit upon the believer, another mode of receiving the Spirit that is available to every believer but that is distinguished in significant ways from the Spirit within.  As in my previous post, I'll be looking at this by listing the terms in the New Testament that refer specifically to "the Spirit upon" and digging a little bit deeper into a passage or two.

The logical place to start, like I kicked off my previous post, is with the New Testament terms "the Holy Spirit descending/coming/falling upon" and "being/remaining/resting upon" the believer.  These terms appear almost exclusively in the writings of Luke (the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles), which is a theme you'll see through today's post and which I'll talk more about in my next one.  The absolute most important thing to notice about the descent of the Holy Spirit onto believers is that everyone on whom the Spirit rests is imbued by him with supernatural power and boldness to testify to God's plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.  This testimony is often called prophecy.  This pattern extends from Simeon, who prophesied when he saw the infant Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:25-35) to the believers on whom the Spirit fell in Ephesus in Acts 19:5-6.  In many cases, including in Ephesus, the Holy Spirit caused people to speak in other languages ("tongues"), but in all cases they were fired up to talk about Jesus in whatever language they could.  Appropriately, the descent of the Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4) was promised by Jesus as "being clothed with power from high" (Luke 24:49).  The Spirit-empowered testimony of these believers was so powerful that it demanded a reaction from those who heard it.  Many believed; others responded with hostility and persecution.  Thus Peter observes that "[i]f you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you" (1 Pet. 4:14).

Two interesting and exceptional cases of people on whom the Spirit descended are Mary the mother of Jesus and Jesus himself.  For them, the descent of the Spirit didn't merely empower them to testify to God's plan of salvation in Christ but to accomplish it, Mary in her conception of the Son of God (Luke 1:35) and Jesus in his perfect life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return.

All four Gospels record the Holy Spirit coming down on Jesus at his baptism in water by John (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32).  Throughout Acts we see an interesting relationship between the descent of the Spirit and water-baptism.  When the Holy Spirit fell on the believers on Pentecost, we can assume, though it is nowhere explicitly stated, that those people had all previously been baptized by John or by Jesus' disciples.  But in his exhortation that day Peter made the connection between water-baptism and the Spirit's descent when he urged his listeners to "[r]epent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).  In both Acts 8:16-17 and 19:5-6 we see people being baptized in water into the name of the Lord Jesus, and then at or after that baptism apostles laid hands on them and the Holy Spirit came down.  The exception in Acts is when the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentile household of Cornelius (also described as "God pouring out the Holy Spirit") before they had ever been baptized in water.  But exactly because the order of events was so unusual, Peter reacted by baptizing them in water immediately (Acts 10:44-48).  (I'll talk about the example of Cornelius more in my next post.)  The significance of these accounts is that baptism was administered to people who had repented of their sins and placed their faith in Christ.  These were people who had been born again to the best knowledge of those who baptized them, which means that they already had the Holy Spirit within them and had already been "washed/baptized by means of the Holy Spirit" as discussed in the previous post.  Receiving the Holy Spirit at or after water-baptism through the laying on of hands, however, was a different thing.

Here we see the contrast between "being washed/baptized/immersed by means of the Holy Spirit" and "baptism/immersion in/of the Holy Spirit."  As recorded in all four Gospels, John the Baptist said that just as he immersed people in water, the one who came after him (Jesus) would immerse people in the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:22; John 1:33).  (It is interesting to note that a metaphor for the Holy Spirit within is water, but the metaphor for the Spirit upon is fire, as indeed he appeared on the believers on the day of Pentecost.)  Three of the situations that Luke describes as the Spirit coming upon believers he also describes as Jesus baptizing people in the Holy Spirit as John had predicted (Acts 1:5 [fulfilled in 2:1-4]; 8:14-17; 19:1-6).  In short, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit coming upon the believer are the same thing.

The terms "descending/coming/falling upon" (and also "baptism in/of the Holy Spirit") refer to an initial event that launches a believer's experience with the Spirit upon his or her life.  The terms "being/remaining/resting upon" describe the ongoing experience of the believer who has received the Holy Spirit upon him- or herself.  The terms "being filled with the Holy Spirit" and "being full of the Holy Spirit" have a similar relationship.  Luke uses the term "being filled with the Holy Spirit" in just the same way that he uses "falling upon" and "baptism in the Spirit" in that it describes a single, discrete episode in which the Spirit fills a person with himself.  The only difference is that filling may also happen to believers who have already been baptized in the Holy Spirit, and they manifest the same boldness and power they showed the first time they were filled (as, for example, in Acts 4:29-31).  Therefore, unlike when the Spirit falls on someone, which occurs at most once, fillings with the Spirit may happen repeatedly.  Luke uses the term "being full of the Spirit" to describe the ongoing character of someone who has been (perhaps frequently) filled with the Spirit.  In fact, "full of the Spirit" is often tied to character qualities such as wisdom and faith (Acts 6:3, 5).

To sum up the differences we've seen between the Spirit within and the Spirit upon so far, the Spirit within brings a person's spirit to life as they believe in Christ while the Spirit upon gives the believer boldness to make that profession everywhere.  The Spirit within is God the Father's baptism of the believer's conscience to cleanse from sin, reflected subsequently in water-baptism, while the Spirit upon is Christ's baptism of the believer in the Holy Spirit that generally comes with the laying on of hands after water-baptism.  One additional crucial difference between the Spirit within and the Spirit upon is that believers are never commanded to seek or take responsibility for the Spirit within, but believers are commanded to put themselves into a position to receive or maintain the Spirit upon.

One such command is Ephesians 5:18-21, which says, "And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."  First I need to make a rather technical observation.  In the phrase "be filled by the Spirit," "by" is the Greek word en that I talked about in the last post, and it has the same definition of "by means of" here that I talked about there.  So "being filled by means of the Spirit" is like "the cup was filled with a pitcher," not like "the cup was filled with water."  Paul is saying, "Look, don't use alcohol to fill the emptiness in your life.  That's what the Holy Spirit is for!  Use him to feel full."  The result of having the Holy Spirit make us full is a special power to testify to Jesus with our mouths.  We sing to him, we thank God because of him, and we even employ his name when we speak words that give each other preference over ourselves.  These are all things God commands us to do, and we will only do them effectively if we obey the command to be filled by means of the Holy Spirit.

Another such command is in 2 Timothy 1:6-7, where Paul exhorts his protégé, "I remind you to rekindle God's gift that you possess through the laying on of my hands.  For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control."  Without a doubt, "God's gift" that Paul refers to in verse 6, as Peter did in Acts 2:38, is the Spirit he mentions in verse 7, a gift that came through the laying on of hands and is described with the metaphor of fire.  "Reigniting the Holy Spirit" is Timothy's continual responsibility in order to retain the power, love, and good sense necessary to fulfill his duty as a servant of the gospel.

In conclusion, in the New Testament the Holy Spirit comes upon the believer who receives him usually (though not always) through the laying on of hands following baptism in water.  The result is supernatural power to bear witness to Christ.  Though baptism in the Holy Spirit happens once, the manifestations that come at Spirit-baptism may be repeated through many times of filling with the Spirit thereafter.  And though we have not seen yet in our study how a person goes about getting and maintaining this gift, we have seen that as believers it is our responsibility to take the initiative to do so.