Edited By: Leslyn Kim
It’s going to be incredibly difficult to get all of the passing thoughts, sermon aha’s, blogs, and commentaries that I’ve encountered, tossed around and pondered for the last month stuffed in one post. But, here’s to nothing……
I tried my best to keep it simple because I think I’ve already said enough. So, I broke the conclusion into two parts: Who is the Holy Spirit, and what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit. Although the title states that I’ve journeyed to still waters it was not meant to insinuate that I’ve “arrived” somewhere exclusive or enlightened. Instead, it means this is where I’m at now. At a place of peace in what I believe about the Holy Spirit and gifts of the Spirit. By the grace of God, I pray for continued growth, power and wisdom by the Spirit.
Part 1: Who is the person of the Holy Spirit?
Most scholars agree that the modern translations for the word often used to describe the Holy Spirit in scripture is inadequate. It’s not so much that the translation is poor, but that there is no single equivalent English word that represents the Greek Word, Parakletos. Parakletos, pronounced in Greek as par-ak-lay-tos, is often translated in English to mean helper, counselor, or advocate. Although these do accurately describe characteristics of the Holy Spirit according to the bible, it doesn’t give us the rich understanding of the word’s meaning in Greek.
In Greek, the word parakletos was historically used to describe someone who was a defense attorney or lawyer . As a parakletos, the Holy Spirit serves as our loving defense attorney and legal counselor. Not because we are in trouble, but rather as an advisor of the truth in love and by doing so he lead us to Christ. As our defense attorney he advocates on our behalf to protect us against the accusations of the devil, to lend us divine strength when in trials, to counsel us and guide us into truth, to convict us of wrong doing, to counsel us in righteousness, in order to lead us down the best path possible toward Christ. Jesus, who’s also described in scripture using the Greek Word Parakletos also serves as our defense attorney, the best one who ever lived. Being that he actually took on our sins, and now intercedes as our high priest continually before God the Father (Hebrews 7:25). When thinking of the Holy Spirit in this light, as a divine and benevolent defense attorney who’s constantly working on our behalf to ensure that we win in our trials, it gives new meaning to his role as our seal to redemption (Ephesians 4:30).
This old video from the Cosby show provides a great depiction of how the Holy Spirit works in and through us. We are all Rudy, in trouble for breaking the juicer (sin). Clair Huxtable is like the parakletos, the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, exposing our sin in a loving fashion, but advising and convicting us to repent of it. So that, when we come before the ultimate judge (kind of like Cliff Huxtable in the video), we may be ultimately forgiven. LOL. Check out the video below….
So as you can see from the video above, the Holy Spirit is not just a typical legal counselor, as we would normally view one. He’s much more according to scripture. See a more detailed list below  (copied directly from About.com – reference below):
• He Brings Joy:
Luke 10: 21
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” (NIV)
1 Thessalonians 1:6
You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
• He Teaches:John 14:26
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (NIV)
• He Testifies of Christ:
When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. (NIV)
• He Convicts:
When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt [Or will expose the guilt of the world] in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: (NIV)
• He Leads:
Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (NIV)
• He Reveals Truth:
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (NIV)
• He Strengthens and Encourages:
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. (NIV)
• He Comforts:
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (KJV)
• He Helps Us in our Weakness and Intercedes:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (NIV)
• He Searches the Deep Things of God:
1 Corinthians 2:11
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (NIV)
• He Sanctifies:
To be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (NIV)
• He Bears Witness or Testifies:
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (KJV)
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (NIV)
• He Forbids:
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. (NIV)
What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?
To be consistent with the rest of the series, I’ll explain it the best I know how using my own personal testimony along with scripture. At this point in my journey [always subject to change ], I’ve come to view the filling of the Spirit as something that’s continual, rather than a one-time effort or event. Viewing it this way is significant, because it takes the pressure and significance away from a solitary testimony and directs it toward a constant expectancy. In other words, it’s not just an interesting story that I specifically tell people occurred back in 1982-83 (when I was in first or second grade), but a journey that’s ongoing and unraveling.
1981 (Salvation): I can’t recall the name of the church where I got saved, but I will never forget that day, and I was only five. I was balling my eyes out, because I knew something had happened to me. That’s the simplest way to describe it from the way I recall it as a five-year old. Regardless, that day I received salvation, I changed as a person. That day I received what some would say is a deposit of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). To me the language regarding what’s received is only important for people who like to argue over the Holy Spirit in general. From my view it really doesn’t matter whether it was just a down payment or a full deposit. The whole concept is somewhat incomprehensible for my feeble mind, so I leave all of that fine detail to God. The key is that I responded that day to the Holy Spirit who had been drawing me to Christ. Remember, that’s his main job.
1983 (Second Filling): I willingly asked God for a second impartation of the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe in faith that I received it. Besides, who could possibly reject a seven-year old who’s asking for more of the Spirit after all? LOL. That day as I described in part two of the series I spoke in another language. Was it legit? Did it really occur that day for me as it did to Peter and others in Acts? Maybe, maybe not? Who am I to judge? When we even attempt to do that, I believe we are playing with the same fire and blasphemy that Simon was. “How can I buy or bottle up and sell what you just did? (paraphrasing). Ummmm, it doesn’t quite work that way!
Not everyone shares the same experience of being “filled with the Spirit”. Not only did it happen in different ways in the early church, but there are numerous modern testimonies. Scripture supports the idea that not all receive the gift of tongues or prophecy (1 Cor. 12:7-31, Hebrews 2:4). To remain in balance, what the church must do is learn to truly celebrate all of the gifts. There is one person’s story of being filled with the Spirit that particularly witnesses to a non-Pentacostal (second filling without the evidence of tongues) understanding of the receiving the Holy Spirit. That person is, Billy Graham, who judging from his personal testimony appears to have received a special gift for teaching (Romans 12:7, Ephesians 4:11) upon being filled with the Holy Spirit [ 3].
“At Hildenborough Hall Olford preached a fervent message on the text: “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the spirit.”1 When he had finished, he seated himself and rested his head in his hands. He became aware of someone nearby and looked up to see Billy Graham standing over him.
“Mr. Olford,” said Billy, “I just want to ask one question: Why didn’t you give an invitation? I would have been the first one to come forward. You’ve spoken of something that I don’t have. I want the fullness of the Holy Spirit in my life too.”
Billy told his biographer John Pollock, “I was seeking for more of God in my life, and I felt that here was a man who could help me. He had a dynamic, a thrill, an exhilaration about him I wanted to capture.”2
They arranged to meet in Wales where Billy was scheduled to preach in a town named n Pontypridd, eleven miles from the home of Olford’s parents . In a room in a stone hotel in Pontypridd, Stephen and Billy spent two days together. Billy told Stephen. “This is serious business. I have to learn what this is that the Lord has been teaching you.”
The first day was spent, according to Stephen, “on the Word and on what it really means to expose oneself to the Word in the quiet
time.” They spent the hours turning the pages of the Bible, studying passages and verses. Billy prayed, “Lord, I don’t want to go on without knowing this anointing You’ve given my brother.”
That night Billy preached to a small crowd. The sermon was “ordinary,” according to Stephen, and “not the Welsh kind of preaching.” Billy gave an invitation, but the response was sparse.
The next day they met again, and Stephen began concentrating on the work of the Holy Spirit by declaring, “There is no Pentecost without Calvary,” and that we “must be broken” like the apostle Paul, who declared himself ”crucified with Christ.” He then told Billy how God completely turned his life inside out. It was, he said, “an experience of the Holy Spirit in His fullness and anointing.” He explained that “where the Spirit is truly Lord over the life, there is liberty, there is release — the sublime freedom of complete submission of oneself in a continuous state of surrender to the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit.”
According to Stephen, Billy cried, “Stephen, I see it. That’s what I want.” His eyes filled with tears — something rare with Billy. It seems he had no appetite that day, only taking a sip of water occasionally. Stephen continued to expound the meaning of the filling of the Spirit in the life of a believer. He said it meant “bowing daily and hourly to the sovereignty of Christ and to the authority of the Word.”
From talking and discussing, the two men went to their knees praying and praising. It was about midafternoon on the second day that Billy began pouring out his heart “in a prayer of total dedication to the Lord.” According to Stephen, “all heaven broke loose in that dreary little room. It was like Jacob laying hold of God and crying , ‘Lord, I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me.’ ”
They came to a time of rest from prayer. Billy exclaimed, “My heart is so flooded with the Holy Spirit!” They alternately wept and laughed, and Billy began walking back and forth across the room, saying, “I have it! I’m filled. I’m filled. This is the turning point of my life. This will revolutionize my ministry.”
Said Olford, “That night Billy was to speak at a large Baptist church nearby. When he rose to preach, he was a man absolutely
anointed.” Billy’s Welsh audience seemed to sense it. They came forward to pray even before the invitation was given. Later when it was given, Olford said, “The Welsh listeners jammed the aisles. There was chaos. Practically the entire audience came rushing forward.”
Stephen drove back to his parents’ home that night, deeply moved by Billy’s new authority and strength. “When I came in the door,” he said later, “my father looked at my face and asked, ‘What on earth has happened?’
“I sat down at the kitchen table said, ‘Dad, something has happened to Billy Graham. The world is going to hear from his man. He is going to make his mark in history.”
2010 (A constant filling): First off, the gap in time between 1983 and 2010 doesn’t mean that I didn’t need the Spirit for twenty seven years. What it does mean however, is that I believe I had an undeveloped and small understanding about the role of the Spirit up until then.
From the time that I received a second impartation or filling of the Spirit until my adult years, my understanding of the Spirit was limited. I saw the Spirit as a mysterious and powerful person whose primary role was to give me “power”. What did that word “power” mean? Well, that’s actually the crux of the whole issue. If got into a major bind, I would invoke the Spirit – praying in tongues, rebuking the devil, you name it I was doing it, praying with an almost righteous anger in my disposition. If I was in a position of discomfort, i.e. – public speaking, leading a meeting, speaking before “important people”, faced with a contentious relationship issue, or uncomfortable controversy I was specifically praying in my private prayer language to be built up in my faith, to be strengthened, to call on special power that only God can give.
What however was limiting was not having a rich biblical understanding of the work and person of the Holy Spirit. In between those times of feeling personally inspired were mini-droughts. For unnecessarily long periods of time I felt that God wasn’t speaking, that he wasn’t moving, that I was devoid of that power. Tongues, and the limitations I placed on the power of the Spirit, during those times had become my spiritual crutch.
It was as if the Spirit represented a treasure trove of power to be desired, but getting to it was the difficultly. I knew I had access to it, but had no idea how to locate it other than praying in tongues. What I’m attempting to describe as backwards thinking really amounted to a void in my understanding. For all practical purposes I viewed tongues as a gift of the Spirit, but also viewed tongues as the very presence of the Holy Spirit. I had reduced the person of the Holy Spirit down to a single dimension.
All that changed for me around 2010, as I really began to study and read and study scripture, to listen to sermons online, and entertain various views on the Holy Spirit. Growing up, I had never really heard preaching and teaching on the “continual filling of the Spirit”. For all I know, this may have been another way of saying “walking by or in the Spirit”, which is often mentioned in more charismatic churches. So, I was naturally intrigued as I began to hear people like Joe Focht, Jim Cymbala, Chuck Smith and others talk about desiring to be continually filled with the Spirit. The idea is rooted in the stories of scripture, especially in the early church and the book of Acts. Paul emphasize is it in Ephesians 5:18 – “Stop getting drunk with wine, which leads to wild living, but keep on being filled with the Spirit.” I purposefully quote the ISV version, because it translates in plain English what Paul likely was saying. He was suggesting to the church in Ephesus that their desire should be for a continual filling of the spirit. Not a one-time event, but an ongoing state of being. In support of the idea, it’s found multiple places throughout scripture as well. We find Stephen before being stoned to death being full of the Spirit (Acts 7:55), Jesus in Luke 4:1, and Paul in Acts13:9. I’ve listened to quite a few sermons, and I can say from experience that there are certain topics that pastors preach on that tend to be left incredibly vague. The topic of the Holy Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit tend to be one of them. For instance, I’ve listened to numerous sermons by a popular Reformed pastor, where he preaches on being filled with the Spirit, but I was always left wondering, “Well how do I do it though?” You almost get the sense that some people are preaching outside of their own comfort zone and personal experience. All of that changed for me when I heard a sermon online by a Pentecostal preacher. Hey, why not go to the people who major in all things Holy Spirit? HaHa!
The gist of the message is that the continual filling of the Spirit is not so much a matter of quantity, as the pastor explains, but authority. At all times, in all situations, in facing hardships who prevails? Does our will bend to our emotions and mind (the flesh), or is it swayed by the Spirit? The Spirit lives within us, yet we are fallen sinners with real emotions, temptations to sin, and a self-will. How do we overcome our propensity to sin? By allowing the Spirit to continually rule our lives, by actively choosing to do God’s will. You can listen to the full sermon here:
*Note – I can’t vouch for his historic record of the term “parakletos”. As awesome and amazing as the story was, I searched high and low on the internet and only found a vague reference to his etymology on the word paraclete, and it was someone’s personal recollection from a history class they had once taken.
From my own experience, the most effective way to continually be filled with the Spirit, to walk by the Spirit, or to be constantly led by the Spirit is to keep the things of God continually before my mind (Psalm 1:2-3). By reading the bible more than any other book, my mind is often consumed with and saturated by scriptures, thoughts about God, about the bible. That alone creates an avalanche effect. For instance, it causes me to think about praying more often, even though I definitely need to get better in that particular area. It affects the types of music that I’m interested in listening to. I’ve found that the more the things of God saturate my mind the harder it is for me to listen to music that conflicts with it. As a result of all of the above, I’ve found myself more eager to witness to others about Christ.
“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.” – A.W. Tozer
I’ve heard several pastors say in the recent past that the greatest need in the church today is the need for people to be led by the Spirit. I agree. Had the apostles in the early church been left without the power and presence of the Spirit much of the work that needed to take place would have ceased to happen. Under the power of the spirit people were saved by the thousands (Acts 2), miraculous signs and wonders took place (Acts), the bondage of racial boundaries were broken (Acts ) and as a result the gospel was given to us (the Gentiles). Wheremiraculous signs and wonders took place where God could display his glory and people were given the supernatural ability to overcome the desires for worldly possessions at the expense of discipleship (Acts ). If they desperately needed the power of the Spirit to overcome these obstacles imagine how badly we need it today.
I’ll close out this series with the following appeal. In returning back to where I started the blog – the rhema and the logos. I long for the day when the two are not seen as disparate camps that are incapable of being compatible. By that I mean, when the Word can be taught and preached clearly using a healthy amount of scripture, while freedom and allowance can be given to the power of the Spirit. Meaning, the delivery of the Word of God doesn’t become so dominate or obsessive over orthodoxy that little room is left to exercise it. Where the discipline of declaring the whole counsel of God can take place through means like expository preaching (verse by verse, line upon line). Yet, space and unashamed freedom can also be given to prayer for the sick with an unashamed expectancy for healing. A place where solid doctrinal teaching makes people feel comfortable to speak in tongues (private prayer language), quietly, to themselves during praise and worship, and keeps those nearby from being uncomfortable. But a place where solid doctrinal teaching moderates the order of service, so that multiple people aren’t breaking out loudly speaking in tongues with no interpreter, running circles around the sanctuary, or breaking out in fits of possession.
This appeal is not for a perfect church, because there’s no such thing. It is an appeal for a real church that mirrors the early church. A church led by the Spirit, that met daily in the temple for the public reading of scripture. A seamless melding together of the rhema, built upon the solid ground of the logos.