Wednesday, February 03, 2010
At What Point Does One Receive the Holy Spirit? Part 2
* Please Read Part 1 first.
Based upon many Scriptures, including what I brought up in Part 1, my conclusion is this in regards to the question, "Does one receive the Holy Spirit at salvation or does one become 'filled' with the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands at a later time?" is the response, "yes" and "yes". Please allow me to explain and follow along closely, for this is by no means a fence-straddling response. Paul called Jesus "Lord" in Acts nine, verse five (the same "Lord" that Ananias called Jesus several verses later) which according to 1 Corinthians 12:3 can only be done by the Holy Spirit. So, we can gather that the Holy Spirit did in fact play a role and was present at Paul's conversion. But, later in verse 17, Ananias lays hands on Paul and he is "filled" with the Holy Spirit, which implies a greater occurrence. "Filled" in the original Greek text is "pletho" which means "accomplished, full, fulfilled" which would suggest a greater "fulfillment" of what is already there. So, according to these Scriptures specifically, there seems to be a greater "level" (filling) of the Holy Spirit.
To use a simple metaphor of the natural, you can have water present in a glass, but just because the water is there does not mean that the glass is necessarily "full" of water. In order for it to be filled with more water, the air within the glass must be removed as more water is poured in. It's simply the theory of displacement. Spiritually speaking, the Bible speaks of a deeper level of "outpouring" or "filling" of the Holy Spirit. One that only comes as we empty more and more of ourselves.
Likewise, while many seem to rest that all that an ongoing life devoted to Christ entails is complete at salvation, the Word states that we're to "earnestly desire the greater gifts - I show you a still more excellent way." (1 Corinthians 12:31) This seems to make it quite clear that although, when one is born from above, he is absolutely a completely new creation, there is a greater level to be attained that we are encouraged to pursue. "Earnestly desire" (in the original text, "zeloo") means to
be zealous for, covet earnestly, burn with zeal for, pursue, to strive after. One might say that we have been given all that we need at salvation, but we are responsible to mature and grow in it – exercising it into maturity and seek it out in its fullness. We cannot make the gifts happen on our own but via the Holy Spirit, we can attain them. The "greater gifts" in this verse ("charisma", in the Greek) was defined as "grace or gifts denoting extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their souls by the Holy Spirit". The more "excellent way" is "huperbole" which was defined as "exceeding, out of measure, abundance, beyond all measure". It seems to me that these clearly go hand in hand with being "filled" to overflowing with the Holy Spirit as He is the enabler of, and the power behind, the gifts that we're to long for (one cannot long for what he already possess in fullness).
Paul, well-schooled and more literate in what we would call biblical knowledge than likely any of us, even when he was a persecutor of Christians, still apparently needed "filled" by the Holy Spirit after his conversion (as Acts 9:17 clearly state as a factual account). There is always more for us to attain, no matter how educated in the Law we are (also look into Paul's many references to attaining the "fullness of God"). To assume that one "gets saved" and is then OK for the rest of their days, without ever maturing or going deeper in the LORD is just downright ridiculous and opposes all of Scripture. Of course much of Christianity today places little to no emphasis on personally examining God's Word for oneself, so this is not surprising. The ability to become all that God desires us to resides in His Word. The answers to the churches' arguments and denominational differences are all within Its pages. It's time we turn to It alone to define what is right and stop leaning on preferential doctrines of men.
* Part 3 (conclusion) will be posted on Friday