Should I be seeking a second filling of the Spirit even after conversion?
Answer: We should always be seeking more of the Holy Spirit because without the Holy Spirit we cannot be saved and without the Holy Spirit we cannot be sanctified. My Biblical rationale is the following:
1) We need the Holy Spirit for Conversion:
Scripture makes it clear that no one can exist or be saved apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. As Acts 17:28 states, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” This has been the case from the very beginning. In Genesis 2:7 we are told God “forms man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Without this “living breath,” we cannot survive. In Ezekiel 37 the Holy Spirit is then described as the one who gives living breath to dry bones. This means the Spirit of God can do more than create life out of nothing, He can also enact resurrection. The Holy Spirit can miraculously bring life from death! What is true physically in Scripture is also true spiritually. In John 6:63 Jesus says, “The Spirit gives life” and the Apostle Paul echoes this phrase exactly in II Corinthians 3:6. It is only in Christ by the power of the Spirit that we can exist, let alone be reconciled to God, belong to God, or live in submission to God
Romans 8:1-17 makes it clear that a regeneration experience is synonymous with receiving the Holy Spirit. See specifically Romans 8:9b which states, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” According to Romans 8:10 the inverse is also true. “If Christ is in you…your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” Saving faith is therefore first and foremost a gift of God given to us by the Holy Spirit, so that no one can boast (See also Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:3-7; Titus 3:5; 1 Cor. 2:14-15; 2 Cor. 4:6 and Colossians 3:10).
Our scriptural anomalies occur in Acts 8:14-17 and Acts 19:1-6. In these passages, people in Samaria and Ephesus had previously accepted the word of God but had not yet received the Holy Spirit. Bible interpreters point out many peculiarities of these passages which should cause us pause before we create any doctrines out of these two passages in isolation:
- The unique dispersion of the Holy Spirit through the laying of hands (which happens occasionally in Scripture, but not always),
- The unique geographical location (Samaria especially because it was one of the unlikeliest of places for the Gospel to be received. Context in Ephesus is surprising also),
- The unique canonical context (Simon thought he could control God by buying God, but Acts 8 shows the Holy Spirit does only what He wills. Similarly, Acts 19 shows many extraordinary and dramatic effects of salvation which are not always manifest),
- The unique leadership dynamics (The broader church need confirmations of salvation in these places because it was so surprising. But similar confirmations of salvation are not always needed in other passages of Scripture).
These peculiarities should make it clear that the process of Gospel reception in Acts 8:14-17 and Acts 19:1-6 is not normative. These were very unique events within the paradigm-shifting movement of the Gospel spreading to the ends of the world. But we can still learn something here about the Holy Spirit’s role in salvation. We see again that without the Holy Spirit, salvation is not accomplished. Even though the Samaritans and Ephesians previously accepted God (whatever that may mean in that context) and were baptized, they had not yet received the Holy Spirit so the work of salvation was not complete. In a round-about-way, these passages shows the same truths as the rest of Scripture. Even in this passage we see that both salvation and a Spirit-filled life are one and the same thing. You cannot ever have one without the other. Anything less is incomplete.
2) We need the Holy Spirit for Sanctification:
Having established the direct connection between the Spirit and salvation, we are to also see the direct connection between the Holy Spirit and a Godly life. The Holy Spirit does much more than give us the gift of faith for salvation. This same Spirit then empowers us to accomplish God’s purposes. This was true of Bezalel in Exodus 31:3, with Joshua (Numbers 27:18; Deut. 34:9), the Old Testament Judges (Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 15:14), Saul and David (I Sam 11:6; 16:13), Elijah and Elisha (II Kings 2; Luke 1:17) and later on with Jesus (Luke 4:14-19) and throughout the New Testament with Stephen (Acts 6:5-8), Paul (Rom. 15:19; 1 Cor. 2:4) and others (Heb. 2:4). Throughout Scripture we see that when someone is filled with the Spirit, they are uniquely able to persevere through suffering, enact miracles, discern God’s wisdom, utilize spiritual gifts, and boldly proclaim the Gospel of God.
In the same way that we are fully dependent on the Holy Spirit for salvation, we also must rely completely on the Holy Spirit for sanctification. Galatians 5:13-26makes it clear that it is the Spirit who we are to live for, not the flesh. When Jesus promises in Acts 1:5-8that His disciples will be “…be baptized by the Holy Spirit…will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you… and will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth” he is telling the disciples (and us) where the source of true spiritual strength is. Our strength for Christian living is not found in our own efforts, but in the power of the Holy Spirit as He works through us. While God’s children have received a full measure of the Holy Spirit for salvation, we should always desire a tighter connection to the Holy Spirit. We should not hesitate to ask God to show us His Spirit and we should always look to submit ourselves to the Spirit’s work.
We can seek and savor God’s Spirit in a number of ways. We can ask for God’s Holy Spirit to keep filling us. Lead us. Teach us. Renew us. Rescue us. Inspire us. Illuminate us. Protect us. Guide us. Comfort us. Speak to us. Intercede for us. Or whatever our current need is. Christians properly rely on the Holy Spirit from day one to the very end. Without the Holy Spirit, even our good works are only as “filthy rags” compared to God’s standards (Isaiah 64:6). So while every Christian who has received the Holy Spirit is secure in their salvation, all Christians should continually ask for more of the Holy Spirit because our sanctification is a continual process.
To read another helpful article on what it means to be baptized by the holy spirit, check out this link: https://corechristianity.com/resource-library/articles/what-does-it-mean-to-be-baptized-in-the-holy-spirit
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