Holy Ghost Baptism – Article 3
Have you, or anyone you know, ever been “filled with the Holy Spirit?” That expression is found numerous times in the Bible and is badly misapplied. The worst misapplication comes from those who equate it with Holy Spirit baptism. As we have learned in this series of lessons, no one today can receive Holy Spirit baptism — no one should even desire it
There are a number of references in the Bible to being “filled with the Spirit.” Of John the Baptist it is said, “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). Of his parents, Luke also says, “And it happened when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (1:41) and “his father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying: ‘Blessed is the Lord God of Israel…’” (1:67).
It is impossible to equate these with Holy Spirit baptism. While John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb, he was not a recipient of Holy Spirit baptism. John himself told his disciples that he baptized with water, but, he said, “He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt. 3:11). While John was filled with the Spirit he could not have received that which he said would be administered by Jesus in the future.
Often those who claim to receive Holy Spirit baptism today, urge people to open up their hearts and prepare their minds to receive this magnificent gift. If the filling of John the Baptist in his mother’s womb is Holy Spirit baptism, one must wonder how he, an unborn baby, opened up his heart and prepared his mind to receive it. The simple fact is that the expression “being filled with the Holy Spirit” and being “baptized in the Holy Spirit” are not equals.
Those who claim that Holy Spirit baptism is possible in this day equate several miraculous powers with it. It is not uncommon to hear them speak of some “evangelist” as an “anointed” evangelist. By this is usually meant, he has been baptized with the Holy Spirit and has demonstrated several extraordinary powers such as tongue speaking, healing physical diseases, and expelling demons. But notice what the Bible says about John the Baptist. Read with me from John 10:41. “Then many came to Him and said, ‘John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true’.” John was filled with the Holy Spirit, but worked no miracles. Obviously, his being filled with the Spirit was not Holy Spirit baptism — and the truth, dear friends, is simple — those who still claim that they have been baptized with the Holy Spirit or filled with the Spirit are in error.
But what about his parents? Both of them were filled with the Holy Spirit. All of us understand the literal meaning of the verb “filled.” It means “fill something with something to complete capacity.” A full tank of gas is a gas tank filled to its complete capacity. The verb is past tense — meaning that the filling is completed. For further study of this, if you happen to have a copy of Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, consult what W.E. Vine said — Volume I, page 96 and following. He said, “PLEROO denotes, ‘to make full, to fill to the full: in the Passive voice, to be filled, made full’.” Vine noted its use in regard to the filling of an individual with the Holy Spirit. If one is filled with the Spirit, they are filled to capacity and something happens. In the case of Elizabeth, she spoke with a loud voice and said directly to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43). There is only one way Elizabeth could have pronounced the blessing on Mary — by direct revelation from the Almighty. She said by inspiration that Mary was the mother of her Lord. So being filled with the spirit enabled her to prophesy.
In the case of the father, Zacharias, Luke just says, “he prophesied, saying…” Prophesying is an act of speaking for God, as God’s mouth. Only those upon whom God sends His Holy Spirit can prophesy. Let me read to you a quotation from R.C.H. Lenski on this matter. It is quite revealing. “He (Zacharias) could never have uttered what he did by his own natural powers. It was the enabling of the Spirit that produced these prophetic words. As in the case throughout this chapter, we have pneuma (Spirit) hagion (holy), without the articles, exactly as the proper noun that it is. While ‘and prophesied’ is simply added it states the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit. To prophesy is not merely to foretell the future or to speak in exalted language that resembles psalms but to understand the will and the acts of God in their inner connection and to reveal this connection for the hearers in their present situation and as regards the future.” Lenski further says, that “in the strict sense to prophesy is to speak as indicated, under the extraordinary influence of the Spirit who is granted for the time being as a special gift so that what is uttered is spoken by inspiration and bears the mark of infallibility.” (Interpretation of Luke), page 99.
Do those who make the preposterous claim to be “filled with the Spirit” realize the terrible thing they do? When they claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit, in any sense, either through ignorance or deception, they actually claim to be infallible — and the sad thing is they don’t even recognize that. How could it be otherwise? If one is filled with the Spirit, then prophesies, or speaks for God — could it be other than infallible? Once more I want to make a strong point. Why are those who claim baptism of the Spirit or being filled with the Spirit so shy and reluctant to meet us in honorable debate? If I had assurance that God was revealing His will through me, I would not hesitate to meet any man alive. But the “Pentecostals” among us who once were brave enough to try and publicly defend their doctrines, have become very, very shy these days. Why? I know and so do you. They have learned better. There used to be a saying, “A muly cow doesn’t want to hook.” For those of you who don’t know what a muly cow is, it is a cow that has been dehorned. We have dehorned too many so-called Pentecostal preachers for them to want to join us in a public discussion of these issues.
It always makes me really fearful and apprehensive to hear some preacher or evangelist remark, “The Lord spoke to me directly and told me to tell you . . .” and usually it has to do with financial contributions he needs. Dear friend, the good Lord does not (I repeat) does not speak to anyone that way today. There is but one way the Lord speaks to anyone — through His Only Begotten Son. Listen carefully: “God who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son …” (Heb. 1:1-2). Neither you nor your evangelist are exceptions to this statement. What the Lord says to one He says to all — He does not show partiality (Acts 10:34).
Being filled with the Holy Spirit means that one is fully filled, completely controlled, and manipulated by the Holy Spirit. On the memorable day of Pentecost, the twelve apostles were “all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). What they spoke was the infallible word of God. When someone claims to be filled with the Holy Spirit today, and begins speaking, is there a thinking person who really believes that the utterances are infallible? When people are filled with the Holy Spirit from on high, it is not through their desire to seek the gift, nor their opening of their hearts to receive it, but by the divine intervention of God Almighty.
Some who were “filled with the Holy Spirit” had limited powers. Take as an example, Philip, the evangelist. The divine historian Luke says that he was one of the seven men selected by the church in Jerusalem to “serve tables” (Acts 6:3). Yet later he was unable to lay his hands on others to confer this gift of the Spirit (Acts 8:14-19). Here is a man who was “full of the Holy Spirit” who was not able to do what apostles could do. The apostles, on Pentecost, received the baptism of the Holy Spirit which enabled them to impart spiritual gifts through laying on of their hands. Philip received the filling of the Spirit but could not. Therefore, the filling and baptism of the Holy Spirit are not equal.
There is but one place where anyone was ever told to seek the filling of the Holy Spirit. Read with me: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord…” (Eph. 5:18). A study of Ephesians and Colossians shows the close parallel between them. The parallel to this passage is Colossians 3:16. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” So, the filling we are to seek is the filling of the word of Christ, which the Holy Spirit revealed through the inspired apostles and prophets — not some emotional upheaval that causes us to act irrationally and mumble unintelligible sounds. Please think about it.
We stay ready to discuss this openly – to answer any question privately or publicly.