Biblical doctrines hermeneutics

Holy Spirit: Indwelling or Filling?

All saved Christians receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes some get a big dose of it at salvation, sometimes some get it at another time, but all believers have the Spirit of God dwelling in them otherwise they are not of Christ. (All bold are my emphases added. Square brackets [ ] indicate meanings of words. King James Version Easy-Reading Bible (KJVER) used.)

romans-8-9Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

All believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit upon their rebirth–their salvation.

Ephesians 1:13 In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel [good news] of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.

No believer can be without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:9 But you are not in the flesh [i.e. not controlled by the flesh], but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.

The Apostle Paul hits it from two sides. If you are saved the Spirit of God dwells in you and if you don’t have the Spirit of God in you then you are not saved. God wanted the message to be very clear.

Some ask for the Holy Spirit, others just get zapped the moment they receive Jesus Christ, but all get the Holy Spirit regardless of their circumstances. Read Holy Ghost Baptism. It is given as a seal (or proof) of salvation and as the power to witness for Christ.

Filling of the Holy Spirit

In times past preceding the outpouring of the Holy Spirit after Christ was resurrected, God sent His Spirit and filled people for a specific period and purpose. But this is not the same as indwelling of the Holy Spirit given at salvation.

Deuteronomy 34:9 And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands on him: and the children of Israel hearkened to him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.

1 Samuel 19:20-24  And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. 21 And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also. 22 Then went he also to Ramah, and came to a great well that is in Sechu: and he asked and said, Where are Samuel and David? And one said, Behold, they be at Naioth in Ramah. 23 And he went there to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24 And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets?

This seems to be in the same manner as when God spoke through the prophets of old.

Acts 4:8  Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost [Holy Spirit], said to them, You rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,

Acts 13:9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.

Acts 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.

The disciples had already the indwelling of the Holy Spirit from salvation but they were additional zapped with a dose of the power of the Holy Spirit because of the persecution they received. This filling of the Spirit was given for a specific purpose and occurred in both saved and unsaved persons. I am sure you can think of other examples in both New and Old Testament where this happened.

Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the same as indwelling of the Holy Spirit

After His resurrection Jesus met with His disciples who were hiding in a closed room somewhere out of fear and He revealed Himself to them, showing His hands and His side as proof of the fact He had been crucified.

John 20:21,22 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be to you: as My Father has sent Me, even so send I you. 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, Receive you the Holy Ghost:

At this point in time they were born again as real Christians. Jesus breathed His Spirit into them that they might be saved and have the Holy Spirit indwell them. This was a pivotal point in the lives of the disciples as it is in the lives of those saved by God now.

Acts 8:14-17 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16 (For as yet He was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

Indwelling after Peter and John laid hands on them.

Acts 10:44,45 While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision [i.e. the Jews] which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Peter witnesses Christ to the household of Cornelius, a Gentile, and the Holy Spirit falls on them which heard and they are saved and simultaneously receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is poured out on the Gentiles and the Jewish believers are astonished but God planned to take salvation to the Gentiles as well. On salvation we are all born of the Spirit. It is called being ‘born again’ by Jesus Christ and is equal to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

When religious leader Nicodemus asked Jesus, how can a man be born again?

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man be born of water [first flesh birth from your mother] and of the Spirit [second birth, spiritual birth by the Spirit], he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

The first birth mentioned here is not water baptism but the flesh birth from the womb of your mother. The second birth is salvation, being born of the Spirit of God, which indwells you at rebirth. The filling of the Spirit some people call baptism but it really is just an additional filling or anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Now read the verse which follows,

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Here Jesus defines two births, one of the flesh (from your mother’s womb) and one of the Spirit, when we are born of the spirit. Then to make what He means beyond any doubt Christ says:

John 3:7 Marvel not that I said to you, You must be born again.

To be born again means you must already have been born once, and now this second birth is the spiritual rebirth when the Spirit of God comes to dwell in you. Christ finishes His explanation, in relation to where the Spirit causes people to be reborn, by saying “so is everyone that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).


Believers all have the Spirit

2 Corinthians 1:22 Who has also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

The Greek word translated ‘earnest’ here is ἀρῥαβών (arrhabon) has the meaning of  a pledge, down-payment, i.e. part of the purchase-money or property given in advance as security for the rest. In that sense the Spirit of God in us gives us a pledge or promise of our salvation.

Thus all who are truly children of God, born-again believers, are indwelt by the Spirit of God. It is through this indwelling Spirit that we are “more than conquerors” in this world (Romans 8:37).

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation [affliction], or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword [i.e.war]? 36 As it is written, For Your [i.e. Christ’s] sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded [convinced] , that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from God! The indwelling of Spirit of God will see to that.

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By John Gideon Hartnett

Dr John G. Hartnett is an Australian physicist and cosmologist, and a Christian with a biblical creationist worldview. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Physics from The University of Western Australia, W.A., Australia. He was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, with rank of Associate Professor. Now he is retired. He has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.