December 18, 2016
Pastor Joe Wittwer
There’s More!
#3—Filled with the Spirit

Introduction and offering

Today we continue in our series “There’s More.” We’re looking at what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit, and the Big Idea in the whole series is that there is more—more of God to be known and experienced. Jesus promised that if we hunger and thirst, we will be filled. I want to inspire you to hunger and thirst for more of God, more of His Spirit in you, more of His love and power and grace. There’s more!

Last week we talked about being baptized in the Holy Spirit and we looked at every place in the New Testament where that phrase is used.   I told you that the word “baptize” means to immerse, dip, or plunge.

  • It was used of a ship that had sunk to the bottom of the ocean—it was baptized in the ocean—it was in the ocean and the ocean was in it!
  • It was used of a piece of cloth immersed in a vat of dye—it was baptized in the dye—it was in the dye, and the dye was in it!
  • It was used of a cucumber immersed in brine that had become a pickle—it was baptized in the brine—it was in the brine and the brine was in it!

To be baptized in the Spirit is to be immersed, soaked, drenched and filled with the Spirit until you take on His characteristics. It results in a permanent change, just like a baptized cucumber becomes a pickle. You can’t be baptized with the Spirit without being filled with the Spirit. I love this image of being baptized in the Spirit—being immersed so that you are in the Spirit and the Spirit is in you—and you become a different person!

In two weeks, we’ll wrap up this series with a talk on January 1 about being gifted by the Spirit. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit has gifted you to serve others. Tell your neighbor, You are a gifted child! God can use you to help other people—just get out there and be open for business. It will be a great way to kick off the New Year.

This week, we’re going to talk about what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We’ll look at most of the verses that contain that phrase, and see what we can learn. What do we mean when we say someone is full of something? We mean that person is characterized by that quality.

  • He is full of himself. He is characterized by self-absorption or pride.
  • She is full of joy. She is characterized by joy. You can’t miss it.
  • He is full of crap. We’ll just leave that one right there…

So if we say someone is full of the Holy Spirit, we mean they are characterized by God’s presence. When you are around him/her, you are aware of God.

ILL: Last week I used a sponge as an example. When I baptize the sponge, the sponge is in the water, and the water is in the sponge. In fact, the sponge is full of water. If I take it out, it leaks water everywhere. If I squeeze it, water comes out.

God wants to fill you with Himself, with the Holy Spirit, so that you leak Jesus everywhere. If someone squeezes you, they get soaked with Jesus! You are full of the Spirit, characterized by His presence.

So here’s the:

Big Idea: God commands us to be filled with the Spirit, and keep on being filled! Open up! There’s more!

We’re going to walk through the Scriptures that talk about being filled with the Spirit: first, the examples; second, the command to be filled; third, a prayer for fullness.

Offering here.


  1. The examples.

The New Testament describes people being filled with the Spirit in different ways. I’ve listed three of them. First, some people are:


  1. Filled the first time

The first example is a familiar one. We read this last Sunday; it is the story of the first disciples being filled with the Spirit for the first time on the day of Pentecost.

Acts 2:1–4 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Jesus had promised that they would be baptized with the Spirit, and that is what happens here. They are baptized in the Spirit and filled with the Spirit. Their baptism in the Spirit was also their first filling. Here the words baptized and filled are used interchangeably.

Next, Saul is persecuting the church when Jesus meets him on the road to Damascus. He is struck blind, led into Damascus and waits three days. Then God sends a Christian named Ananias to pray for him—although Ananias objected pretty strenuously! “Lord, are you sure? Do you know who this guy is? This is the guy who has been arresting and killing Christians—that’s why he came to town! He’s blind—don’t you think we should just leave him that way?” But the Lord insisted.  

Acts 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Saul the persecutor is converted! God heals him and fills him with the Holy Spirit—this is a first filling. Saul is baptized in the Spirit.

Here are two examples of “filled with the Spirit” referring to someone being filled for the first time—what is also called being baptized in the Spirit. And we’ve already seen that when you’re baptized in the Spirit, you are also filled with the Spirit. The baptism is the first filling.

But there are also examples of people who have already been filled being filled again.


  1. Filled again.

The Greek phrase in each of these examples in this section means, “to be filled, to be generously supplied.” The first example is Peter, who was filled on the day of Pentecost, and is filled again when he is arrested and called on the carpet before the Jewish rulers and questioned.

Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!

He goes on to make a stirring speech. Peter receives a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. He is filled again! The Spirit comes upon Peter and empowers him to boldly proclaim the gospel to the very men who had arrested and crucified Jesus only weeks before! This is bold! This is exactly what Jesus predicted.

Luke 12:11–12 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

Peter gets a fresh filling of the Spirit and is empowered to speak boldly. Have you ever been in a situation where you suddenly knew what to say for Jesus? You felt an unusual boldness and confidence. You knew what to say and said it! That was probably a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit! He comes upon us and gives us the power we need in the moment.

ILL: I heard someone once compare it to a four-barrel carburetor. A carburetor is a mechanism that combines fuel and air in the proper mixture and delivers it to the cylinders in your car or motorcycle engine. (Most cars and many bikes are fuel injected now.) When you are just driving normally, only two barrels are being used. But when you need a burst of power—perhaps to pass someone—then all four barrels kick in. Power when you need it!

I like that image. The Holy Spirit fills us again when we need it, when we are representing Jesus. One of the best ways to get filled is to get in trouble! Get out and mix it up with people who need Jesus. Put yourself on the front lines, and that’s when the four-barrel power kicks in!

The next example is later in chapter 4. After Peter’s Spirit-empowered speech to the Jewish rulers, they told Peter and John to stop preaching and threatened them with violence. Peter and John returned to the church and reported what had happened. The believers prayed; I love their prayer! They didn’t ask God to protect them. Instead they prayed, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” Not “keep us safe” but “make us dangerous to the darkness!” Make us bold!

Acts 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

God answered their prayer and filled them again with the Holy Spirit. They were all believers who had already been filled with the Spirit, but here, in answer to prayer and to meet a ministry need, they are filled again! More four-barrel power!

The next example is Saul—now the apostle Paul—on his first missionary journey. He and Barnabas are on the island of Cyprus, and the governor wants to hear the gospel. But a man named Elymas opposed them.

Acts 13:9–11 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”

Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand.

Whoa! We know that Paul was already filled with the Spirit, but here, in a ministry crisis, sharing the gospel with a ruler and facing stiff opposition, Paul is filled again!   More four-barrel power when it’s needed!

One more: On this first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas brought the gospel to a town called Antioch Pisidia in the interior of what’s modern Turkey. Many people believed, but an angry mob then ran them out of town. However, in the face of this persecution, here is what happed to the Christians who remained behind.

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

I love this! Faced with serious persecution, they were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. They were filled again!

I believe that the baptism in the Spirit is our initial filling. But after you are filled the first time, I think that we all need to be filled again, and again, and again! And it seems these refills happen when needed—when we are sharing the gospel or facing hardships for Jesus.

Here is the third set of examples.


  1. Characterized by being full

The Greek phrase here is different than in the preceding verses. In these verses, the phrase “full of the Spirit” means “characterized by a particular trait”—here characterized by the Spirit. They were marked by or known for being full of the Spirit. It is used first of all of Jesus.

Luke 4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

Unlike me—or you—I think that Jesus was full of the Spirit all the time. Always full. I think this characterized him constantly.

The next example is from Acts 6, and it’s the choosing of men to oversee the distribution of food to widows, to make sure that different racial and cultural groups were treated fairly. What were they looking for in these food program administrators?

Acts 6:3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them

Acts 6:5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

They wanted people “known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom,” people who were characterized by the Spirit’s presence and God’s wisdom. Later, Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, would be arrested, tried and executed by the Jewish leaders. As he was dying, here’s what happened.

Acts 7:55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

Stephen is being stoned to death—a terrible way to die—and yet he is still full of the Holy Spirit! Even in this horrible moment, he is characterized by the Holy Spirit. That especially shines through in his final words.

Acts 7:59–60 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Who does that sound like? Jesus, who prayed on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit, even as he died a brutal death. He was characterized by the forgiving Spirit of Jesus. Do you ever have trouble forgiving those who offend you? Maybe you need to be full of the Holy Spirit! There’s more!

The final example is Barnabas, who was sent from Jerusalem to Antioch Syria, a major city in Syria where a new Gentile church had just started. Barnabas encouraged them, and Luke, the author of Acts, tells us:

Acts 11:24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit and faith. He was characterized by these—when you thought of Barnabas, you thought, “There’s a guy full of the Holy Spirit and faith.”

I’d like to be full of the Holy Spirit in this sense, wouldn’t you? I’d like to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that He is what is obvious or characteristic of me. To do that, I have to keep on being filled—again and again. There’s more!


  1. The command: keep on being filled with the Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18–21

18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Let’s break it down. Verse 18 is a command. Don’t get drunk on wine. Beer is ok; wine no. I’m kidding—don’t get drunk on anything. Getting drunk leads to debauchery. What is debauchery? Debauchery is “extreme indulgence in sensuality.” Think sexual orgies. The ten players suspended from the University of Minnesota football team for sexual assault—that was an alcohol fuel orgy. People do stupid things when they’re drunk. That’s the English word, debauchery. But the Greek word here is asotia, literally, “not saved;” it means, “wasted.” Think of the person who doesn’t save their money, but wastes it all. Don’t get drunk, that leads to waste. Interesting that we call getting drunk, “getting wasted.” I’ve watched people I love waste their lives getting drunk. Don’t get drunk; don’t waste your life.

Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Here is what you need to know about this phrase.

It is a command. “Be filled” is in the imperative mood. Paul commands us to be filled with the Spirit—it’s not optional, it’s imperative. It’s not a suggestion, it’s a command.

It is plural. Y’all be filled. It’s not just for a few, for the really holy or really serious. It’s for every Christian. Y’all be filled! This is the promise for all, the power we need to live a Jesus life.

It is passive. Be filled—meaning someone else fills you. You can’t fill yourself; you have to be filled. You simply come hungry and thirsty for more, and you’ll be filled. God will fill whatever you bring Him—so come!

It is present tense. It could be translated, “keep on being filled.” Or “continue being filled with the Spirit.” This indicates that being filled with the Spirit is not a one time event—one and done. It is an ongoing filling. There’s more! I tell people that I need to be continually refilled because I leak! There’s more!

Keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit. Keep coming to Him every day and let Him fill you afresh. Staying full of the Spirit is a relationship. I live with Jesus and stay hungry and thirsty. I keep coming back to Jesus every day and letting Him touch me and fill me.

John 7:37–39 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Are you thirsty for more? Come to Jesus and drink. Those verbs are also present tense. Keep coming, keep drinking. And what are we drinking? We are taking in the Holy Spirit who becomes a river of living water in us.

1 Corinthians 12:13 …and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Keep coming. Keep drinking. Keep being filled until this become characteristic of you: you are full of the Spirit. People bump into you and get splashed with Jesus. You leak Jesus everywhere because you are soaked with His Spirit. We keep being filled by having a relationship with Jesus where we keep coming and keep drinking! “Stay thirsty, my friends.” There’s more!

I cited Galatians 5 and Romans 8 on your outline. Both of these passages talk about walking in the Spirit, or living in the Spirit. They also talk about being led by the Spirit. I think this is all the same as being filled with the Spirit. Spirit-filled people are Spirit-led people; Spirit-filled people live in the Spirit. When you do that, you won’t live according to the flesh—you won’t do the things you used to do when you didn’t know Jesus. Instead, you will be more like Jesus.

Galatians 5:22–23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

When you are filled with the Spirit, when you are led by the Spirit, when you live in the Spirit, the Spirit makes you more like Jesus. More love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Would you like more of those? There’s more! Keep on being filled with the Spirit, and there’s more of those qualities to be grown in you!

ILL: How many of you knew Pastor Noel, Laina’s dad? He passed away last year, and I miss him every day.

I can still remember meeting Noel for the first time. The man who introduced us raved about Noel. “You’ve never met anyone like him. He’s a man’s man—strong—but he is the most gentle man I’ve ever met. He has that fruit of the Spirit.” I was intrigued. He was right. Hang around Noel and you saw Jesus. He was full of the Holy Spirit and he leaked Jesus everywhere.

I want to be more like Noel. I want to be more like Jesus! I want to be more loving, more peaceful, more joyful, more forbearing, more gentle, and so on. How to do it? Keep coming to Jesus, keep drinking, keep being filled with His Spirit. There’s more!

            I’ll finish with a prayer.


  1. The prayer: may you be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:14–19

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

This is my prayer for you…and for me. May you be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Notice the measure: not the measure of you, what you can handle, what you can hold. That wouldn’t be much. Instead, may you be filled to measure of all the fullness of God.

ILL: Here’s a cup. If I fill it to the measure of the cup, it’s only one cup. Here’s a pitcher. If I fill the cup to the measure of all the fullness of the pitcher, here’s what happens. It just keeps on being filled.

God is infinitely bigger than this pitcher, and He wants to keep filling you and filling you and filling you—to the measure of all His fullness. There’s more! And as you keep on being filled, to the measure of His fullness, the overflow splashes all over everyone around you. You will leak Jesus on everyone! That’s my prayer for you.

Here’s how we’re going to finish: We’re going to sing two songs, and if you’re thirsty, come and drink. Come and stand before the Lord with your heart and your hands open. Come thirsty for more and you’ll be filled. Come while we sing, and I’ll come close us in prayer after we’re done singing.