Being Filled with the Spirit

In conservative evangelical circles lots of debate went on 20 years ago about the filling with the Holy Spirit. The major conclusion that was reached was that we are baptised with the Spirit at conversion. There were several variations on the conclusion, but it was mainly that conversion and baptism in the Spirit are synonymous. Sadly those who didn't quite agree were sometimes considered outside the camp. Even Martin Lloyd Jones was held in some suspicion for his book Joy Unspeakable, which seemed to question this orthodoxy.

I have been thinking about this in conjuction with my reading of Acts. The structure of Acts in several distinct panes, each making the point about how the Word went to a fresh field, was often used in the argument to demonstrate that any account of the Spirit falling independently of conversion was a unique historical event, like a mini-pentecost, for each new sphere. But that it only occured once in each new sphere and therefore should not be normalised or universalised.

I think that the debate considered closed for a lot of years in conservative circles is alive and open again. With more experience of God working, I start to become a little uncomfortable with my previous reasoning. I wonder if I produced a scriptural-sounding justifications for avoiding what the text says, because it didn't cohere with my experience.

It seems to me that there are more and more credible people with deep knowledge of the scriptures taking a view that God often endues with the Spirit subsequent to conversion (whether they refer to it as baptism or multiple fillings). Previously most of the heavy weight exegetical guns were on one side of the discussion only, but now it feels like there are people of doctrinal as well as experiential credibility on both. Very infrequently compared to a decade ago do I hear the claim that contemporary prophecy or a view on second blessing inherently damages a high doctrine of scripture.

Views on this issue are no longer thought by many to be the touchstone of evangelical orthodoxy that defines whether you are a conservative evangelical or not. As a result some possibilities are arising for fresh friendships between biblical Christians with different views on the issue.

I'm grateful to Adrian Warnock and Rob Wilkerson for pointing out this message on receiving the baptism of the Spirit from Terry Virgo. It is a spiritually powerful message. You may not agree with all of it, I am not sure I do. But I challenge you to listen to it without crying out to God for more of the Spirit. As Virgo puts it "God wants you full of the Spirit. Every Christian full of the Holy Spirit is proof that Jesus is ascended."

Listen, bow before God, rejoice and receive.