Summary: 5th in Take a Hike: Walking in the Spirit series. This is about being filled with the Spirit - what happens at salvation, and what needs to continue happening.
Ephesians 5:15-18 – Filled to the Brim
(NOTE: This is a revamp of a previous message of mine called "Would You Like a Refill?", with (I think) a better understanding of the topic. It’s also blatantly Wesleyan/Arminian.)
Author Jamie Buckingham once visited a dam on the Columbia River. He’d always thought that the water spilling over the top provided the power, not realizing that it was just froth, that deep within turbines and generators transformed the power of tons and tons of water to electricity—quietly, without notice, not like the flashy froth on top.
That’s what walking in the Spirit is like. It’s not about the stuff that bubbles over. It’s about what happens on the inside. Tonight we are looking at what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Let’s read.
Now, I know that tonite’s discussion will be at times debatable. We’ve got different theological camps here, and that’s fine. My goal is to share what I see in the Word, at the same time not to drive a wedge between us, and then to help us live for Jesus more effectively.
Well, if we are speaking about being filled with the Holy Spirit, we must first define some terms. What is our relationship to the Holy Spirit? As Christians, how are we connected to the Holy Spirit? The Bible says that when we initially ask Jesus to forgive us and lead us, the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts and lives inside us. The Bible also calls this the baptism by the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor.12:13: “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
Now, just to clarify: the word “by” could also be translated “with” or “in”. Which means, this verse could mean that we are baptized by the Holy Spirit, baptized with the Holy Spirit, or baptized in the Holy Spirit. Each of these words fits in other passages in the NT.
Whatever word it means, it describes what happens to us at salvation. It means that we have been immersed, that is, baptized, in what God has for us. This means we have gotten a dose of His power, His grace, His mercy, His holiness, His purity, His love. We have, as Peter says, tasted and seen that the Lord is good.
Now, there are different schools of thought on this. One group would say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit happened once, at Pentecost, for all time. It was collective, for the church, and it becomes personal when someone joins a church or when a person is baptized. Another group would say that it is part and parcel of salvation. It happens at salvation, but nothing more is ever needed again, that this baptism is enough for all time. Another group would say that yes, it happens at salvation, but it continues to be improved upon with time. It happens to each person when they give their lives to Christ, but it continues to work throughout the rest of their lives.
But another group would say there is more, too. Wesleyans believe in what we call a second work of grace. Some would call it a baptism in the Holy Spirit. They would say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit happens at salvation, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit happens sometime after that.