Summary: "If you have the Word without the Spirit, you’ll dry up. If you have the Spirit without the Word, you’ll blow up. If you have both the Word and the Spirit, you’ll grow up." (Derek Prince)

Opening illustration: Speaking to a large audience, D.L. Moody held up a glass and asked, "How can I get the air out of this glass?" One man shouted, "Suck it out with a pump!" Moody replied, "That would create a vacuum and shatter the glass." After numerous other suggestions Moody smiled, picked up a pitcher of water, and filled the glass. "There," he said, "all the air is now removed." He then went on to explain that victory in the Christian life is not accomplished by "sucking out a sin here and there," but by being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Let us turn to the book of Acts in God’s Word and see what God intended by ‘being filled with the Holy Spirit.’

Introduction: An important verse in understanding the filling of the Holy Spirit is John 14:16, where Jesus promised the Spirit would indwell believers and that the indwelling would be permanent. It is important to distinguish the indwelling from the filling of the Spirit. The permanent indwelling of the Spirit is not for a select few believers, but for all believers. There are a number of references in Scripture that support this conclusion. (i) The Holy Spirit is a gift given to all believers in Jesus without exception, and no conditions are placed upon this gift except faith in Christ (John 7:37-39). (ii) The Holy Spirit is given at the moment of salvation (Ephesians 1:13). Galatians 3:2 emphasizes this same truth, saying that the sealing and indwelling of the Spirit took place at the time of believing. (iii) The Holy Spirit indwells believers permanently. The Holy Spirit is given to believers as a down payment, or verification of their future glorification in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 4:30).


Our previous study of scripture shows that there are fundamentally two symbols used consistently to describe two different operations of the Holy Spirit.

One symbol is "upon" which in both the Old and New Testament has to do with receiving power and results in action.

(a) The Spirit upon for power

In describing the empowering work of the Holy Spirit, the New Testament consistently uses the image of the Spirit upon someone.

The Form Is Used

The Spirit or Holy Spirit {fell upon, clothed, anointed}

(name of person) = [dynamic action]


(Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22); (John 1:32-33); (Luke 4:18)


(Luke 24:48-49); (Acts 1:8); (Acts 2:17-18)


(Acts 2:3); (Acts 10:44)

A second symbol is "within." In the Old Testament this was for giving skill or wisdom. In the New Testament it means justification and sanctification. Here action is not the important thing; rather there is communion with Christ, receiving eternal life and transformation of character.

In the New Testament, images that are "inward" or speak of the Spirit "within" describe the sanctifying and justifying operations of the Holy Spirit.

(b) The Spirit Within For Changed Character

(I Corinthians 6:19-20); (Romans 8:9); (John 14:17)

This is the transformational, fruit-bearing work of the permanently indwelling Holy Spirit.

To summarize these two distinctive operations of the Holy Spirit, Archer Torrey writes:

"The Bible consistently distinguishes between the external and internal work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit upon us, or with us, or pushing us ("moved"), or leading us, is like the weapons and vehicles which a military unit has to have for its work, but which tells us nothing about the inner attitudes of those who use them.

When the Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit in terms which make it clear the Holy Spirit is in one’s inner being, then it also speaks of character, of fruit-bearing, of life, of wisdom to know God’s will and the will to do it. These two different roles of the Holy Spirit are quite clear, unequivocal, and distinct in the Bible..."

Note: There are some terms used for the working of the Holy Spirit that do not seem to fit neatly in this within and without motif. Of special interest are "filled" and "receive."

The phrase "receive the Holy Spirit" in Acts 8:15, 17, 19, Acts 10:47, and Acts 19:2 refers to the empowering operation of the Holy Spirit. In Romans 8:15, however, it depicts the inward justifying and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

The term "filled" is more problematic and requires further attention.


The motifs of the Holy Spirit upon for power, and within for salvation and sanctification are all very consistent until we reach the term "filled" with the Holy Spirit. This term is used extensively in Luke and Acts. Paul urges us in the book of Ephesians to be filled with the Holy Spirit. But how are we to understand this term?

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