Filled with the Spirit
What the Bible Actually Teaches (Part 1)
What does it mean when the Bible says a person is "filled with the (Holy) Spirit"? Does this mean to join a charismatic Church like the Pentecostals and experience speaking in ecstatic tongues? It comes as a surprise to many to learn that being filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) has been universal throughout all time and did not 'begin' at Pentecost (Shavu'ot) and neither is it associated with ecstatic tongue-speaking so-called. We shall examine every scripture on the subject today so that there is no doubt as to what the Bible teaching actually is.
It comes as a great shock to many, if not most, 'Pentecostals' that people were Spirit-filled long before the Day of Pentecost (Shavu'ot) in Acts 4. Bear in mind that the terms 'Spirit of God' (Ruach Elohim), 'Spirit of Wisdom' (Ruach Hochmah), and 'Holy Spirit' (Ruach haQodesh) are one and the same and are used interchangeably throughout the Bible.
"So you shall speak to all who are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's garments, to consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest" (Ex 28:3, NKJV).
The word we render 'filled' (Heb. male' or mala') here means to 'accomplish', 'confirm', 'consecrate', 'furnish', 'replenish' and 'overflow'. This therefore corresponds to a divine anointing. Here we see that Yahweh fills gifted artisan consecrated to making the High Priest's sacred garments with the Ruach Hochmah or the Gift of Wisdom. Hochmah, as is known, is one of the Names of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). This 'spiritual filling' brings with it other gifts too:
"See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God (Ruach Elohim), in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship" (Ex.31:2-6, NKJV)
Here the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God) "fills" Bazalel with "wisdom" (hochmah), "understanding" (tobunah), "knowledge" (da'ath) and "workmanship" (mel'akah) to work on the Tabernacle. It is specific to the calling given to him. In other words, the Spirit matches the calling and "fills" the person up so that he can fulfill the calling, or bring it to completion:
"And Moses said to the children of Israel, 'See, Yahweh has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and He has filled him with the Spirit of God (Ruach Elohim), in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship" (Ex.35:30-34, NKJV).
How many Christians do you know today who speak of being "filled with the Spirit" for tasks such as this? Notice that the task was practical - it was to provide furnishing for the Tabernacle.
The first new Testament character to be "Spirit-filled" was John the Baptist. Please notice that John did not choose to be Spirit-filled, did not ask to be Spirit-filled, and did nothing whatsoever to be "Spirit-filled" because as a foetus he was in no position to do any of these things:
"For he will be great in the sight of Yahweh, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Yahweh their Elohim. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:15-17, NKJV).
Please note the following about John the Baptist and being "filled with the Spirit":
1. It was a sovereign act of Yahweh requiring no human volition or works;
2. It led the one so-filled to abstain from alcoholic beverages; and
3. It endowed him with the Spirit of Elijah.
This was the Spirit-filled prophet of Yahweh, whom Yah'shua (Jesus) said was the greatest of the prophets (Lk.7:28). John the Baptist never once spoke in ecstatic tongues, yet who can deny that he was Spirit-filled?
The unborn baby's mother was likewise Spirit-filled:
"And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe [John the Baptist] leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from Yahweh'" (Luke 1:41-45, NKJV).
What did this Spirit-filling lead Elizabeth to do? To mightily prophesy! Moreover, this prophecy was fulfilled, demonstrating that this was the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God). How many charismatics do you know who are supposedly 'spirit-filled', practice 'ecstatic tongues', and who have issued false prophecies? I have heard hundreds of them, including internationally famous evangelists who have this 'anointing' but who never repent or retract after their prophecies have failed. What does this tell us about the nature of the 'spirit' that fills them? It is a deceitful and lying one.
Elizabeth's husband experienced exactly the same thing: "Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), and prophesied..." (Luke 1:67, NKJV). His prophecy too was fulfilled. Neither he, his wife, nor their son spoke in 'ecstatic tongues', yet all three were Spirit-filled.
We now come to the most important testator of all concerning this phenomenon, the Messiah, and we read of Him:
"And the Child [Yah'shua/Jesus] grew and became strong in spirit (ruach), filled with wisdom (hochmah, Gk. sophia); and the grace (Gk. charis) of God was upon Him" (Luke 2:40, NKJV).
Please note that this gifting and filling was similar to that of Bezalel who was Spirit-filled to build the Tabernacle. Was not Christ the builder of the New Covenant Tabernacle, the Bride of Messiah, the saints? We see that the Ruach (Spirit) filling Him consisted of wisdom and grace when He was a boy. And it remained with Him when He was an adult:
"Then Yah'shua (Jesus), being filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), returned from the Jordan and was led by the Ruach (Spirit) into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil" (Luke 4:1-2, NKJV).
Everything Yah'shua (Jesus) did was also to be an example for us, as and when He was baptised in the Jordan though He has no need of baptism Himself as He was without sin, the spotless Lamb of God. He never once spoke in ecstatic tongues and set no precedent or example for us in that respect.
And so we come to the Day of Pentecost (Shavu'ot) in the Upper Room. Yah'shua (Jesus) has ascended into heaven and it is now the turn of the disciples to be Spirit-filled. What exactly happened?
"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 Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and began to speak with other tongues (languages), as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:2-4, NKJV).
As we read on we discover that these 'tongues' were proper languages and could be understood by all the visitors there from all over the Roman Empire:
"Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs -- we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God" (Acts 2:7-11, NKJV).
This was not ecstatic tongue-speaking such as is found in modern Pentecostalism so-called. They were not speaking gibberish. The purpose of speaking in many foreign languages simultaneously was so that those present who spoke all these languages would be awed by the power of God and repent! Peter goes on to quote a prophecy from Joel of which this Spirit-filled event was the fulfillment (Ac.2:17-21), a prophecy about visions, inspired dreams, heavenly events and prophecy but not - I repeat - not ecstatic tongues. Read it for yourself:
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Ruach (Spirit) on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Ruach (Spirit) in those days; And they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of Yahweh. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of Yahweh Shall be saved" (Acts 2:17-21, NKJV).
We must always remember what the Day of Pentecost (Shavu'ot) was for and what Yahweh specified would be initiated on that day. The purpose of the Spirit-filling was not to speak foreign languages supernaturally per se but to PROPHESY, see VISIONS, and have INSPIRED DREAMS in order to proclaim the Gospel. The speaking supernaturally in foreign languages was incidental to conveying these things - it was not the goal itself! The signs were inspired prophecy, visions and dreams. That is the purpose of being Spirit-filled in the New Covenant dispensation, to reveal the will of Yahweh by these means (amongst others), and to assist in the dissemination of this revelation by, when necessary, speaking foreign languages supernaturally to a multi-lingual audience.
WHY, OH, WHY DO THESE 'GREAT' CHARISMATIC EVANGELISTS PREACH IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE WITH INTERPRETERS AT HUGE INTERNATIONAL RALLIES BUT NEVER IN THE LANGUAGE OF THE NATION THEY ARE SPEAKING TO? WHY? AND YET THEY SPEAK ECSTATIC TONGUES WHICH HAVE NO MEANING. IS THIS NOT A SIGN THAT A FALSE SPIRIT IS AT WORK? THINK WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THEY SPOKE IN THE NATION'S OWN TONGUE!
Let us resume our study of Spirit-filled activity in the New Testament for I think those of you who have been filled with charismatic propaganda will be surprised. Let us observe Peter and John:
"Then Peter, filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled" (Acts 4:8-13, NKJV).
So what does being Spirit-filled do in this situation? It gives the ability to preach with boldness and with authority and wisdom for these two men were uneducated and untrained. And they did not speak in ecstatic tongues. This is also a witnesses of the pointlessness of Seminaries and Bible Schools which 'train' people in the doctrines of men. Where are we ever told to be 'trained' except at the feet of apostles and by teachers in the local congregation (Lk.6:40) and by the Word itself? Yet charismatic ministers are all 'trained' at 'accredited' institutions - NOT NECESSARY. The only accreditation you need is to be Spirit-filled!
The effect of Spirit-filled preaching can be quite dramatic:
"And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), and they spoke the word of God with boldness" (Acts 4:30-31, NKJV).
When a person is Spirit-filled, it leads to two very important things:
"Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common" (Acts 4:32, NKJV).
They were totally echad (one) and shared all their worldly possessions. There was no doctrinal quarrelling. These are two vital fruits and signs of being Spirit-filled.
Notice that Satan can "fill" a heart too with his own counterfeit spirit:
"But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?'" (Acts 5:2-3, NKJV).
We now move on to the apostle Paul and to the incident when he was himself Spirit-filled. Please note the important elements:
"And Ananias (not the same as in Acts 5) went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Yah'shua (Jesus), who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit).' Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized" (Acts 9:17-19, NKJV).
Here we see divine healing that accompanies being Spirit-filled which leads to baptism. Notice that Paul did not speak in ecstatic tongues even though this was after the Day of Pentecost at which time this 'gift' was supposedly given. But we do see this Spirit-filling doing other things:
"Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Ruach haQodesh (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 Yahweh? And now, indeed, the hand of Yahweh is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time." And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand" (Acts 13:8-11, NKJV).
This is a reversal of what happened to Paul and shows how the Spirit-filled person can, in Yahweh's will, render one who is full of lies and deceit temporarily blind. We remember also the incident with Spirit-filled Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, who was made dumb for a time for his lack of faith but had his voice restored when he was Spirit-filled.
The disciples, we are told, were everywhere "filled with joy and with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit)" (Acts 13:52, NKJV) but nowhere do we ever find being Spirit-filled associated with ecstatic tongues, and only once on the Day of Pentecost (Shavu'ot) when those tongues were beyond question known languages and dialects.
We come, finally, to the very last Scripture on being Spirit-filled. The ecstatic tongue-speakers will, alas, be once again disappointed, especially as the setting is praise and worship:
"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of Yahweh is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Ruach (Spirit), speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to Yahweh, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), submitting to one another in the fear of God" (Eph.5:15-21, NKJV).
There then follows a discourse on wives submitting to their husbands in everything, and husbands loving their wives as the weaker vessel. Again we are told that alcohol and the Ruach (Spirits) are diametric opposites, and that those who are driven to get drunk should rather be Spirit-filled and sing praises to Yahweh.
This, then, is the summum bonum of what the Bible teaches about being Spirit-filled and in not one instance to we find a reference to ecstatic tongues. Not one. Nowhere are we told that speaking in tongues is a sign of being Spirit-filled or baptised in Spirit and fire. Much ado is made by charismatics about baptism in fire but none are connected to tongue-speaking (see Mt.3:11; Lk.3:16) and all are connected to the ministry of Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself.
The claims of the charismatics largely rest on a misunderstanding of Paul's instruction to the immature and rebellious Corinthians. For a full biblical exegesis of this, see our booklet, Tongues at Corinth: Languages, not Ecstasies! We have been fed doctrine by charismatics inspired by a false spirit that has been worked into propaganda to make those who do not speak ecstatic tongues feel guilty about not receiving a supposedly full salvation. But we have seen very clearly what the fruits of being Spirit-filled actually are and these I list as a summary:
- 1. It is in Yahweh's sovereign will, not man's choice or request;
- 2. Gives wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and creative skills for your particular calling in the Body;
- 3. Leads to total abstinence from alcohol in harmony with the priestly mandate, the saved being the Temple, given to all believers (1 Pet.2:9);
- 4. Confers the Spirit of Elijah, that of reconciliation and deliverance (Mal.4:5-6);
- 5. Leads to powerful and infallibly accurate prophecy;
- 6. Gives grace;
- 7. Leads to visions, inspired dreams and prophecy per pro Joel's prophecy;
- 8. Empowers uneducated and untrained men to preach the Gospel with boldness;
- 9. Leads to echad oneness or unity in the Truth;
- 10. Leads to a desire to have all material goods and wealth in common under apostolic control;
- 11. Leads to physical healing (e.g. of blindness and dumbness);
- 12. Prompts the new convert to be baptised by immersion in water;
- 13. Can impart the power to render willful unbelievers temporarily blind;
- 14. Fills each believer with joy;
- 15. Leads to thanksgiving, praise and worship in spiritual (not worldly - e.g. rock) song and melody;
- 16. Leads to mutual submission, submission of wives to husbands in all things, and husbands to love their wives.
One thing being Spirit-filled does not lead to is speaking ecstatic tongues! Indeed, a person who is filled with the true Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) does NOT speak in ecstatic tongues!
We have tested the claims of so-called Spirit-filled believers, who claim you must speak in ecstatic tongues to be baptised in the Ruach (Spirit) and fire, and found them to be wanting. If you have been trapped by the charismatic delusion, please visit our website and get in contact with us so that you can be guided further into all truth.
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This page was created on 6 April 2005
Last updated on 6 April 2005
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