The Bible consistently commands us to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and not only does it command us but it also gives us examples through the apostle’s lives on how to be filled with the Spirit. But what does the Bible say about this event happening more than once? Is it a one-time experience, or a recurring event?
In answer to that question, being filled with the Holy Spirit is a recurring event. However, when we receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit for the first time this is called the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which is an initial one-time experience. But after the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we are consistently exhorted by scripture to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, and this is a daily practice.
Let me break that down a little bit so it’s easier to understand.
When do we receive the Holy Spirit for the first time?
As I mentioned earlier, when we are first filled with the Holy Spirit, this is called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is the initial immersion into the Spirit of God. This is what happened on the day of Pentecost for the apostles.
“He (Jesus) commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5).
“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:2-4).
Notice how the term “baptized in the Holy Spirit” and “filled with the Holy Spirit” are used interchangeably in these passages. This is because when the Spirit of God baptizes us He is filling us with Himself and immersing us into Himself at the same time. It is similar to a cup becoming so full of water that it overflows onto the outside as well. This is what happens when we receive the Spirit of God for the first time. (Related article: Baptism in the Holy Spirit)
Every time the Bible mentions being filled with the Holy Spirit for the first time it is either called the baptism in the Holy Spirit, or it is called receiving the Holy Spirit. Here are some scriptures to illustrate:
“Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:14-15).
“Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:46-47).
“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:1-2)
Now, I didn’t have the space to fill in all of the stories for each scripture, but if you notice every one of those scriptures is an account of the apostles dealing with new disciples, people who have just accepted Christ, and their focus is for the new believers to receive the Holy Spirit.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit more than once
What does the Bible say about being filled with the Spirit more than once?
The Bible makes it clear that our lives should be one of continual fellowship with God, thus causing us to be continually filled with Him. The initial experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit was never meant to be a one-time event. Instead, we are meant to continually walk with the Lord and be ever filled with His Spirit.
For example, throughout the Book of Acts, the apostles lived in such a way that they were continually filled with the Spirit (Acts 13:52, 4:8, 13:9-10), and these instances were even after they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2.
Another example is when the apostle Paul commands the Ephesian church to be continually filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18.
“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit“
This scripture reveals that we are in charge of how much we are filled with the Spirit in our daily lives. So, as you can see, being filled with the Spirit is not only an event that happens once we are baptized in Him, but it is also a continual event that we are to walk out on a daily basis! (Similar article: Dwelling in the Secret Place: What it is and how to do it).
How to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit?
Once we receive the Spirit of God into our lives the next step is to develop a lifestyle where we can be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. We see this example from the apostles in their walk with God.
“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52).
“Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:9-10).
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel” (Acts 4:8).
As you can see from these verses the early disciples were continually filled with the Spirit in their daily walk with God. The apostle Paul also mentions this in the book of Ephesians and reveals to the church how to accomplish this.
“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 heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18-20).
First, Paul tells us to not get drunk with wine, but instead to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then he goes onto mention singing to the Lord and giving thanks to HIm. It’s important to note that Paul isn’t just listing things we should do. Rather he is giving us actions we can take that will cause us to be filled with God.
Through these verses, Paul is basically telling us to live a lifestyle of praise if we want to be continually filled with the Spirit. Praise is singing to the Lord and its thanksgiving.
The Bible says that God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). So when we praise Him through song or thankfulness, He comes near to us. This is what I believe James is referring to when he says, “draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). This is also what happened in Acts 13 when the disciples ministered to the Lord (praised Him) the Holy Spirit came near to them and spoke.
“As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2).
If we want to be a people who are continually filled with the Spirit then we need to be a people who are continually ministering to the Lord through praise and worship.
Can we ask for more of the Holy Spirit?
If you have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, you do not need to ask for more of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is a Person so when you receive Him, you receive all of Him. You cannot receive a fraction of a person.
The Bible says all of the fulness of God dwells in Christ (Colossians 2:9-10). The Bible also says Christ dwells in you (Colossians 1:27). So, if Christ who is the fullness of God dwells in you then why do you need to ask for more of God?
Once the apostles received the baptism in the Holy Spirit they never asked for more of God, they simply learned to walk in fellowship with God and to renew their minds to what they have already been given.
Some people use the passage in Acts 4:29-31 to say that the apostles received more of the Holy Spirit after they prayed for miracles to be done through the name of Jesus. But this isn’t what the passage is saying. Let’s take a look at it.
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus. ”And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:29-31).
As you can see, they weren’t receiving more of the Spirit of God, rather they were having a similar encounter with Him as they had before, so the author of the book of Acts used the same terminology. We can’t receive more of a person, but we can receive from that person more often. The more we learn to be continually filled with Him, the more we will walk in holiness, divine wisdom, and divine power. The goal is not to try to get more of God, but to be filled with God continually. (Related article: How to walk in the Spirit).