The Filling and Anointing of the Holy Spirit - Part II
It is common for believers to experience post-conversion encounters or experienceswith the Holy Spirit that are related to but not identical with infilling:
a) The impartation of revelatory insight and illumination into the blessings of salvation. See Eph. 1:15-23. See Isa. 11:2. The point is that "Paul is herewith praying that God will gift them with the Spirit yet once more, and that the Spirit in turn will supply the wisdom to understand what he also reveals to them about God and his ways" (Fee, 676). Two additional comments:
1) This is something for which we must pray (both for ourselves and for others). There are dimensions of the Spirit's ministry in our lives that are suspended, so to speak, on our asking.
2) It strikes some as odd that Paul would pray for the Spirit to be given to those who already have Him. But as Fee points out, "the prayer is not for some further Spirit reception, but for the indwelling Spirit whom they have already received to give them further wisdom and revelation. The emphasis, therefore, is not in receiving the Spirit as such, but on receiving (or perhaps realizing?) the resident Spirit's gifts" (676).
b) The anointing of power for the performance of miracles. See Gal. 3:1-5 (esp. v. 5).
1) Paul clearly refers both to their initial reception of the Spirit (v. 2) and to their present experience of the Spirit (v. 5).
2) The unmistakable evidence that they had entered into new life was their reception of the Spirit (v. 2). Fee explains:
"The entire argument runs aground if this appeal is not also to a reception of the Spirit that was dynamically experienced. Even though Paul seldom mentions any of the visible evidences of the Spirit in such contexts as these, here is the demonstration that the experience of the Spirit in the Pauline churches was very much as that described and understood by Luke -- as visibly and experientially accompanied by phenomena that gave certain evidence of the presence of the Spirit of God" (384).
3) Paul speaks of God as the one who continually and liberally supplies them with the Spirit. The clear implication, writes Fee, "is that even though they have already received the Spirit, there is another sense in which God 'supplies' the Spirit again and again" (388). This is especially evident when one takes note of Paul's use of the present tense (i.e., "He who is supplying you with the Spirit").
4) Paul draws a close tie between the two phrases, "who supplies the Spirit" and "works miracles". Evidently these two ideas are closely related. "That is, God is present among them by his Spirit, and the fresh supply of the Spirit finds expression in miraculous deeds of various kinds. Thus Paul is appealing once more to the visible and experiential nature of the Spirit in their midst as the ongoing evidence that life in the Spirit, predicated on faith in Christ Jesus, has no place at all for 'works of law'" (Fee, 388-89).
c) The provision of the Spirit (his presence and power) to face hardship with hope. See Phil. 1:19.
1) Paul is not thinking so much of the Spirit's "help" but of the gift of the Spirit himself, whom God continually supplies to him. In other words, the phrase "the supply/provision of the Spirit" is an objective genitive, not a subjective genitive. The Spirit is himself supplied to Paul by God.
2) "For Paul the resident Spirit is ever being given or 'supplied' anew in the individual believer's or community's life. So here. Paul knows his own need of the Spirit in a fresh way if Christ is to be magnified in him personally in the soon-to-be-unfolding events of his present imprisonment" (Fee, 742).
d) The continuous exertion of spiritual strength necessary for purity. See 1 Thess. 4:8.
1) Paul specifically says the HS is given into you, not simply to you or even unto you. The point is that God puts His Spirit inside us. Cf. 1 Cor. 6:19.
2) The use of the present tense emphasizes the ongoing and continuous work of the Spirit in their lives. If Paul had in mind their conversion and thus their initial, past reception of the Spirit, he would have used the past (aorist) tense of the verb (cf. 1:5-6).
3) In context, Paul's point is that the call to sexual purity and holiness comes with the continuous provision of the Spirit to enable obedience. "Thus the Spirit is understood as the constant divine companion, by whose power one lives out holiness, i.e., a truly Christian ethic" (Fee, 53).
e) Deepened awareness of our adoption as sons (i.e., increased confidence and assurance of salvation). See Rom. 8:15-17. See also Rom. 5:5. Consider the experience of D. L. Moody (1837-99):
"One day, in the city of New York -- oh, what a day! -- I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. . . . I can only say that God revealed himself to me, and I had such an experience of his love that I had to ask him to stay his hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world -- it would be small dust in the balance."
Howell Harris (1714-73) describes his experience:
"June 18, 1735, being in secret prayer, I felt suddenly my heart melting within me like wax before the fire with love to God my Saviour; and also felt not only love, peace, etc. but longing to be dissolved, and to be with Christ; then was a cry in my inmost soul, which I was totally unacquainted with before, Abba Father! Abba Father! I could not help calling God my Father; I knew tht I was his child, and that he loved me, and heard me. My soul being filled and satiated, crying, 'Tis enough, I am satisfied. Give me strength, and I will follow thee through fire and water.' I could say I was happy indeed! There was in me a well of water, springing up to everlasting life, Jn. 4:14. The love of God was shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost, Rom. 5:5."
f) Intensified sense of the abiding and loving presence of the Father and Son. See John 14:15-23.
There are times in the Christian life when the believer finds himself/herself more than ordinarily conscious of God's love, his presence, power, etc. See Eph. 3:16-19; 1 Pt. 1:8. In other words, there is a heightened, increased, or accelerated experience of the Holy Spirit"s otherwise ordinary and routine operations. Why? J. I. Packer explains:
"Why should there be this intensifying -- which, so far from being a once-for-all thing, a 'second [and last!] blessing,' does (thank God!) recur from time to time? We cannot always give reasons for God's choice of times and seasons for drawing near to his children and bringing home to them in this vivid and transporting way, as he does, the reality of his love. After it has happened, we may sometimes be able to see that it was preparation for pain, perplexity, loss, or for some specially demanding or discouraging piece of ministry, but in other cases we may only ever be able to say: 'God chose to show his child his love simply because he loves his child.' But there are also times when it seems clear that God draws near to men because they draw near to him (see James 4:8; Jeremiah 29:13,14; Luke 11:9-13, where 'give the Holy Spirit' means 'give experience of the ministry, influence, and blessings of the Holy Spirit'); and that is the situation with which we are dealing here."
"Different concerns drive Christians to renew their vows of consecration to God and seek his face -- that is, to cry in sustained prayer for his attention, favor, and help in present need, as is done for instance in Psalm 27:7-14. The occasion may be guilt, fear, a sense of impotence or failure, discouragement, nervous exhaustion and depression, assaults of temptation and battles with indwelling sin, ominous illness, experiences of rejection or betrayal, longing for God (all these are instanced in the Psalms); it may be other things, too. When God reveals his love to the hearts of such seekers, putting into them, along with joy, new moral and spiritual strength to cope with what weighed them down, the specific meaning of the experience for them will relate to the needs that it met" (Keep in Step with the Spirit, p. 227).
How, then, may I be filled with the Spirit?
1. Keep a clean heart. Sin grieves the HS (Eph. 4:30-31).
2. Pray for it. See Luke 11:13. Could it be that this exhortation to pray for the Holy Spirit flows from Jesus' own experience of the Spirit? Could it be that he himself prayed for continued, repeated anointings, infillings or fresh waves of the Spirit's presence and power to sustain him for ministry, and here encourages his followers to do the same? Three observations:
1) Where Luke says the Father will give the "Holy Spirit" to us Matthew says he will give "good things". Why the difference? John Nolland suggests that "it will be best to see that, since from a post-Pentecost early church perspective, the greatest gift that God can bestow is the Spirit, Luke wants it to be seen that God's parental bounty applies not just to everyday needs (already well represented in the text in [the] Lord's Prayer) but even reaches so far as to this his greatest possible gift. (Luke, 632).
2) Since this exhortation is addressed to believers, the "children" of the "Father", the giving of the Spirit in response to prayer cannot refer to one's initial experience of salvation. The prayer is not by a lost person needing a first-time indwelling of the Spirit but by people who already have the Spirit but stand in need of a greater fullness, a more powerful anointing to equip and empower them for ministry.
3) The petition of v. 13 is part of the instruction on persistence and perseverance in prayer that began in 11:1. Thus we are repeatedly and persistently and on every needful occasion to keep on asking, seeking and knocking for fresh impartations of the Spirit's power.
3. Walk in step with the HS (Gal. 5:25). Be sensitive to his leading and prompting, ever pursuing his presence.
4. Thirst after Jesus! See John 7:37-39.
5. Having taken sincere note of points 1-4, it is important to note that there is no indication that people in Acts or elsewhere in Scripture asked to be filled or empowered; it was a sovereign work of God; as they walked in obedience and made themselves available, God "filled" them in accordance with their need. Cf. OT instances - Ex. 31:3; 35:31; Num. 24:2 (Balaam); Judges 6:34; 14:6,19; 15:14; 1 Sam. 10:6; 16:13.