Summary: God sends the Holy Spirit to fill us--gives us intimate knowledge of Him--in order that we may be His witnesses to the world.
It’s Memorial Day Weekend. And, to follow contemporary American traditions, I am about 7 hours from being filled with burgers and hotdogs and chips and pickles and macaroni salad; and I’ll do the same thing tomorrow. Do you have any idea what I mean by filled? Yes? We all know what it’s like to be filled with food. If you have a wife or husband, you know what it’s like to be filled with love. Those of us who have lost loved ones know what it’s like to be filled with grief. These fillings are ones that we relate to in our flesh.
But we are celebrating the Day of Pentecost, when man received a different kind of filling. (Acts 2:1–4). “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?
We’ll start of with the easy refutations. Being filled with the Holy Spirit does not mean that you have to leave the windows open during a nor’easter so that violent wind fills your whole house. It does not mean that you have to see a tongue of fire come to rest on yourself, or hold a candle up to simulate it. At the risk of offending some diehard Pentecostals, it doesn’t even mean that you have to speak in tongues. All of these were manifestations that the disciples were filled with the Spirit, but none of them serves as a litmus test.
So what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Let’s do a sword drill.
(Ex. 31:2–5). “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.” Bezalel was filled with the Spirit of God, and crafted the tabernacle. He didn’t make them from his own whim but as God commanded, “See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain” (Ex. 25:40). So Bezalel, filled with the Spirit, conveyed the divine pattern shown to Moses.
(Mic. 3:8). “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.” Micah, filled with the Spirit, told Israel the judgment of God.
The Gospel of Luke opens with the Holy Spirit filling people left and right.
(Lk. 1:14–17). The angel said to Zechariah about John the Baptist, “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” John was filled with the Spirit to call God’s people back to Him. So he, filled with the Spirit, conveyed the message that God was drawing near.
(Lk. 1:35,38). The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God…’ ‘I am the Lord’s servant…May it be done to me as you have said.’” Mary was filled with Spirit to become Theotokos, the Mother of God. So she, filled with the Spirit, bore the Redeemer of the world.
(Lk. 1:41,42). “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” Elizabeth was filled with the Spirit, and proclaimed the true blessedness of Mary for bearing the Lord, and of the Lord Himself.
(Lk. 1:67,68). “[John’s] father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.’” Zechariah was filled with the Spirit, and sang and prophesied about the coming Messiah, long promised, who would free God’s people to worship him rightly; and also that John would go before the Lord like the breaking of dawn. So he, filled with the Spirit, proclaimed the mighty work that God was preparing to do.