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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How Long Do You Pray for the Spirit's Filling?

We don't get everything we ask for. We get everything we ask for within the will of God.

1 John 5:14-15 (NIV)
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him.

Thus, our asking is often searching for the will of God. We ask until He either gives us a word that reveals it is His will, gives us the thing we are asking for or tells us that this is not His will. God is always as good as His word. If He says something will happen; it will happen. Our prayers change from asking to praising once we have received His word. Of course, our prayers should be turned to praising even if we do not receive what we have asked for. He, therefore, has something better for us than we have asked if He tells us "no."

God's specific will has already been established in some things through His word. We know, for example, that we shouldn't ask for something sinful. These things will not allow us to express His glory. On the other hand, there are things specifically mentioned in the Bible for which we must ask. The Holy Spirit is one of those.

It is God's will that we possess the Holy Spirit. All believers should possess the Spirit though all believers aren't filled with Him. Many believers are saved without power. Power is the result of one who is full of the Spirit. It is the power to have a bold statement of faith. It is the power to believe when circumstances don't support that belief. It is the power to speak in the face of adversity. It is the power to see God perform miracles of healing, knowledge and any of the other spiritual gifts. It is always the power to see people come to know Christ.

God not only tells us to ash Him for the Holy Spirit but assures us that we shall have Him and He us. Jesus uses the example of a good father who would not give his child something bad when the child asked for something good. He compares the good father with the Heavenly Father pointing out that He will even do greater than any earthly father. He assures those who ask for the Holy Spirit in their prayers being fulfilled.

Luke 11:11-13 (NIV) 
11 "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

But this asking doesn't really stop here. All who are believers in Christ possess the Spirit. Paul says there is more.

Ephesians 5:18 (NIV) 
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

The filling of the Holy Spirit is a passive command. Therefore, the person who asks must allow the Spirit to fill them. This is why the Bible also tells us not to "put out the Spirits fire." (1 Thessalonians 5:19) Many believers are less than they should be because they didn't want the filling of the Holy Spirit. They just wanted to have enough of the Spirit to go to heaven. They didn't want enough to be changed by His power.

But the command to be filled makes us realize that our filling is never a final act. "Being filled" is an present imperative passive verb. This means it is a continual act. We are filled and we wane from our filling if we are not being filled again and again.

Thus, asking for the Spirit's filling is never ending. We ask and are filled when we allow the Spirit to fill us. We leak out and must ask the Spirit to fill us.

Why are so few believers filled with the Holy Spirit? They either have stopped asking or they are asking half-heartedly. Their prayers neither expect the filling nor do they want something that will change their lives. They would like to continue their lives without being so different from those who do not know the Lord. They do not want to go out of their own way to live their faith.

Of course, they also may not be praying to be filled by the Spirit at all.

I have resolved that I must pray for the Spirit's filling every day. He fills me but I leak . . . a lot.

4 comments:

high-expressions said...

It is indeed only when we ask according to His will, that He grants; it is NOT anything and everything we ask, in the name of Jesus, He grants. It got to coincide with what God wants done and at the time He wants done.

This is the "spot-on" asking, and why would He NOT grant, or in other words, would we NOT see His grace in our situation. Of course, it is possible we leave the precise moment to God, but it will be in line with "this is the thing to do, here". This type of grace of God, I called it, grace coming from the stream of righteousness and justice, as opposed to the stream of grace coming from God's love and faithfulness. It got to do with our love for God, that because of our love for Him, we want to obey Him, and to do that which He likes to see done. The grace from God's love and faithfulness is the undergirding grace, but for all Christians, it is God's desire for us to mature, and that is to operate the grace coming from agreement to God, or righteousness.

Praising and worshipping God must be understood in this order: We praise and worship God, first, for who He is; next come, we also do that, for what He has done for us. It is never just for the latter. It is same order as we first seek His face, and then we seek His hand. And so, we still praise God despite being turned down, for we know He has our welfare at heart, and we know He knows best, and we can learn something here, and we should try to learn something here, from being turned down (I say "try" because at times, God is silent on the "why", and one reason is that we have much to learn about obedience, for true obedience to God does NOT demand understanding, but "just do" or "NOT do").

Concerning the Holy Spirit, and the asking for the Holy Spirit, what has been said by Ps Prentis, are right. But there are aspects we are NOT so clear.

Ps Prentis used the phrase, "we possess the Holy Spirit"; well, we can accept that, as equivalent to the understanding that every Christian or believer, upon his entry into salvation, God puts a deposit of the Holy Spirit into the person. We commonly said God indwells His Spirit into a person, on conversion.

Now, there is a "funny" bit of thing here, concerning the Holy Spirit; but we just have to accept it (although we don't quite appreciate how it can be, for we generally know of such phenomenon, with inanimate thing) that the Holy Spirit is a person, and yet He comes in measures! From the way, it is described, at the indwelling at conversion, the measure of Holy Spirit is NOT big; but it is sufficient to “mark us as citizen of Heaven, put on journey home”. This measure of the Holy Spirit, we do NOT need to ask; it is God’s part – you just need to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, and the acknowledgment from God is the very act of putting that measure of the Holy Spirit into you. That initial measure is adequate but NOT quite sufficient for us to be a “good and faithful” servant on journey. That is why the Apostle Paul did NOT forget to ask that we be filled with the Spirit.

There is a parallel in Scripture to this, and it is this: The Disciples of Jesus, while they were with Jesus when Jesus was alive on earth, were NOT with the Holy Spirit indwelling them. But after Jesus was crucified and resurrected, and He came back to “visit” the Disciples, and He breathed the Holy Spirit into the Disciples (John 20:22). But yet, in Luke 24:49, just before He goes off to Heaven, Jesus instructed the Disciples to stay in Jerusalem to wait for the Holy Spirit, coming in greater measure, and that we know happened in the Upper Room where some 120 followers, experienced the filling of the Holy Spirit in great measures. Most of us refer to such fillings of the Holy Spirit such as that which happened in the Upper Room, as baptism of the Holy Spirit.

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high-expressions said...

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Now, for the initial deposit of the Holy Spirit, we are clear, we do NOT need to ask for it; God will on His part, as an acknowledgment of salvation confession, put it into us. The question in many Christian’s mind is (1) whether or NOT, a baptism of the Holy Spirit is necessary? And (2), if such a filling up is necessary, how many times, must we be “baptized” with the Holy Spirit?

To the 1st question, some argue that we saw one time only, the coming of the Holy Spirit, for Jesus, and so, they say, it is NOT necessary for us, believers, to be separately be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Of course, others counter with, “But we are NOT Jesus, we are NOT God. Shouldn’t we ‘compare’ with the disciples instead?” And the first group argues back, that, “Oh, the early disciples needed that, baptism of the Holy Spirit, because it was the beginning of the church, they needed it to start off, the church, but that phase was over, and so, we do NOT need it anymore.” Now, there is just no biblical basis/support for this later argument of “we no longer need”!

My understanding is this: If you look carefully at the coming of the Holy Spirit, for Jesus, it was recorded that the Holy Spirit came upon (and indwelled, I believe) Jesus, WITHOUT MEASURE. This is means FULL MEASURE. And so, Jesus had NOT, need of a separate baptism of the Holy Spirit. In other words, for Jesus, it was a case of both initial indwelling and the baptism of the Holy Spirit happening at the same time.

Now, for the 2nd question, some argue that Jesus did NOT even have a first baptism (but they were wrong-lah, Jesus had it together with the initial indwelling), and accordingly, no subsequent filling ups are a must, to any degree. As to Luke 11:11-13, their answer is that, “Well, if you want to ask for the Holy Spirit, you can. The text (purported by them as) was pointing only that God does NOT refuse any good thing, and the Holy Spirit is NOT a bad thing! Well, this is coming from those who believe NOT, any need of filling up of the Holy Spirit at all; what they believe in, as the necessary “filling”, is the initial putting in, of the Holy Spirit by God, as an acknowledgment of our salvation confession. I believe they are wrong to take such a stand; at least the text of Eph 5:18 is NOT for non-believer, and NOT exhorting a non-believer to come into salvation (and so, receive the deposit measure of the Holy Spirit).

For those believing what the early disciples experienced, is equally applicable to us, and believe a separate baptism of the Holy Spirit like that of that which happened in Upper Room, they still have to ponder about the question of whether or NOT, subsequent filling ups are necessary or NOT. What do you think? Is Ps Prentis correct? I have already answered that earlier. He is correct, meaning, yes, there is such a thing as a baptism of the Holy Spirit, apart from the acknowledgment’s deposit of the Holy Spirit (but for some, it can, of course, happened together); and subsequent filling ups are exhorted, as taught by the Apostle Paul, and I agree with the metaphor used, “that we leak”. Like I said, there is the “funny” bit about the Holy Spirit, that He is a person, yet He could be of measure, and He could increase or decrease like water-level in us!

You can argue whether or NOT, the case of Moses was a case of the Holy Spirit was inside of Him or upon him, but if you could accept that God had the Holy Spirit gone into him, Moses (well, Moses was with God 40 days and 40 nights! – Ex 34:28); which I accept, in part, on ground that, the manifestation of glory was still evident on Moses’ face, when he was away from the God.

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high-expressions said...

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NOT too long ago, I witnessed my Senior Pastor was “hit” with “holy laughter” for more than ½ hour on stage, and then, another pastor got hit by the same, when he got on the stage and reached the same spot that the Senior Pastor was standing previously. When both the pastors got back to their seats, they were ok; and when the speaker got to the same spot on stage, he said he could NOT read his bible, and that explained why my Senior Pastor whilst manifesting holy laughter, was seen multiple times, wiping his glasses, and trying to read. That spot had the Holy Spirit’s strong presence upon it, but NOT at the seats. In other words, the Holy Spirit did NOT fill the 2 pastors, it was only upon them. For Moses, his face continued to “shine”, when he was already away from God. Of course, subsequently, Moses lost the “shine” (2 Cor 3:7 – said so). In other words, Moses leaked.

Moses leaked, and we leak too; only Jesus did NOT leak! “Leak, leak-lah, what is the big deal?”, we might ask, “Why bother to fill up, again?” Jesus revealed the reason why: Before Jesus went off to Heaven, after His resurrection and appearing to His disciples, He said this, to the disciples - Luke 24:49 – “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” From recordings in Acts 2, we know what happened – the disciples and followers, about 120 of them, were remaining together in a large room, called Upper Room, in the city, Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit came, and on that occasion, clear manifestations of the Holy Spirit were seen (tongues of fires, and recipients speaking in tongues). What did Jesus said was the purpose of that baptism of the Holy Spirit? Yes, it is for power from on high. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is for power.

Can the Holy Spirit be coming on, as upon a person, instead of in-filling him? Sure, both happen, but Apostle Paul exhorted being filled, and so, we should go for that; although I believe it is possible it is up to the Holy Spirit whether He in-fills a person or He just comes upon the person. But I do believe if a person was NOT originally speaking in tongues, if he speaks with tongues with the coming on, of the Holy Spirit, he is in-filled by the Holy Spirit. For subsequent baptisms, the Holy Spirit may in-fill or He may just come upon, or even, a combination of both. Perhaps, the dissipation (or the leak) is slower if it is a case of in-filling compared with coming upon.

The point is that we leak, and leak means loss of power, and so, we should want to be “re-baptised”. Does the subsequent baptisms or “re-baptising” need to be as obvious (with the “fireworks”) as the first baptism of the Spirit? I viewed it this way: The first baptism is generally of a “high enough dosage”. Arbitrarily, we assigned the manifestation of speaking in tongues as the minimum level to qualify as the “high enough dosage”. And so, generally, the sign that one has had the baptism of the Holy Spirit is whether or NOT, he is with speaking in tongues (some may speak in tongues hours later). I am of the belief that subsequent ones are of “varying degrees of dosage”. They can even be very “quietly”, I believe.

Can the first baptism be “quiet” as well? The Bible only revealed that the case for Jesus, it was NOT “quiet”, and the case for the early disciples, they were NOT “quiet”. I am inclined to say that we cannot box God, yet, I propose people NOT live wondering, but instead, “go for it”, until you get the common sign of speaking in tongues. I cannot see how God could generally object to such a stance. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT claiming speaking in tongues shows any spiritual superiority or maturity; I am saying if you truly speak in tongues, you cannot help but know that it is divinely triggered.

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high-expressions said...

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Now, I am one being baptized in the Holy Spirit “formally”, with speaking in tongues accompanied, but NOT immediately but after an hour or so, later, away from the location of being prayed for; and it happened more than 20 years ago, and today, I still speak in tongues. I also “formally” asked the Lord for the gift of singing in tongues, a year or so, after that, and I was given, after a long session of praying at an esplanade.

I always remind myself NOT to form theology out of experiences but to based theology on the Word, but I do NOT think my suggestions and conclusions here, are in contradiction to any truths in Scripture, and in that case, it is possible that I could be right, even though Scripture did NOT say specifically that first baptism cannot be “quiet”. The guiding principle should be that additional revelation (by the Holy Spirit) and experiential conclusion (coming from knowledge from experience) can be on top of what has been revealed in the Word, but it cannot contradict the Word.

Perhaps, those who earnestly desire the in-filling of the Holy Spirit, they would one day, be filled with manifestation of speaking in tongues. I do know of many, including a deacon sibling of mine, who does believe in the Triune God, of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and the initial deposit measure of the Holy Spirit, but does NOT appreciate in-filling of the Spirit with speaking in tongues. I try NOT to judge, but it seems to me, it is possible that unbelief in that kind of baptism of the Spirit, like that, experienced by the early disciples in the Upper Room, as still relevant for us, can raise issue of whether or NOT, the person is really desiring the in-filling of the Holy Spirit, in a manner pleasing unto the Lord.

That brother (sibling) of mine had been serving for many years, was he without power; or has his ministry being without fruit. When God grants grace, does that NOT include element of power, also? With grace, things get done or positive things happen, right? Maybe, a few things of God could be involved: grace, power, authority, and anointing. Maybe, when all of them (and more? Even those from our part?) is fully aligned, great is the exploit for God, otherwise, varying degrees of fruitfulness is achieved. Till I have greater revelation, my suggestions: pursue the elements, grace, power, authority, and anointing of God, etc.


Anthony Chia, high.expressions