Understanding Spiritual Baptism and Spiritual Fullness (2023)

Understanding Spiritual Baptism and Spiritual Fullness (1)

Few aspects of the ministry of the Holy Ghost have caused more division in the church than those of the baptism in the Spirit and spiritual fulness. But whenever the New Testament speaks of these things, it does so in terms of unity, not division. Baptism and the infilling of the Holy Ghost, properly understood, should be sources of the unity of the Church.

If they are unifying factors, why are we so divided? Much of the problem revolves around how we define our terms. If we want to embrace a biblical view, we must understand the biblical definitions of these concepts. By looking at Paul's letters, we can address the terminology and clarify the biblical position on two of the crucial ministries of the Spirit.

(Video) Being Baptized In The Holy Spirit | Dr. Myles Munroe

The first installment:Baptism

We cannot properly understand the baptism of the Holy Spirit without first seeing it in relation to Christ. At the beginning of John's Gospel, we are told that Jesus gives two gifts to his people: the taking away of sin and the baptism of the Holy Spirit (cf.1:29, 33). These two gifts are intertwined throughout Scripture and are fulfilled in Christ (cf.This. 36:25–27). In other words, forgiveness and Spirit baptism go together.

The baptism of the Spirit at our conversion also has implications for the church. In this context, Paul uses the term in1 Corinthians 12. After highlighting what distinguishes one member from another in the Corinthian church, he then points to the fundamental unity of their community: “In one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we all became one Spirit” (v. 13). What binds the church? Our baptism in one body. It's something we can't control - God does it - and it's experiential, something we enjoy in faith.

Implicitly, Paul says that if we are in Christ by faith, we have experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This position differs from the groups and denominations that define the baptism of the Holy Ghost as a post-conversion crisis experience evidenced by signs such as speaking in tongues. This experience, they claim, is essential for spiritual fullness. While Christians may disagree on this and maintain some degree of communion, we must recognize that such a definition is imprecise when measured by Scripture.atthose who really believe are baptized in the Holy Spirit, says Paul.

If we are in Christ by faith, we have experienced the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

The fact that we are baptized in the Spirit raises a question to consider: Are we living as if that were true? Granted, most of us fall short. Despite the resources God has given us, our testimony is often ineffective and our praise is often tainted with selfishness. Further, many of our churches are strong in doctrine but weak in charity. These things are contrary to the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23).

Is there a biblical correction for these problems? And if so, what is it?

The second term:Fullness

Every Christian is baptized in the Holy Spirit, for no one can belong to Christ without also having the indwelling Spirit (Rom. 8:9). But not every Christian reading this now enjoys the fullness that the Spirit brings.

(Video) Being filled with the Spirit: what it means and how to be filled, with example (Part 1), Curry Blake

1 Corinthians gives us a case study of this phenomenon. When Paul addressed the church, they needed nothing elseSpiritual baptism; they had to rediscover spiritual fullness. We know from the issues Paul raised in his letter that the Corinthian believers were proud, unloving, quarrelsome, and tolerant of sin. Their sin patterns caused their spiritual fullness to diminish; they became unspiritual (1 Kor. 3:1–4). Thus, Paul's central concern was not to distinguish between those who had been baptized in the Spirit and those who had not, but to distinguish between the spiritual and the non-spiritual (verse 1).

However, Paul speaks elsewhere about the issue of being filled with the Holy Spirit. The clearest instruction is in Ephesians 5:

Do not get drunk with wine, for that is licentiousness, but be filled with the Spirit, address one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, sing and make praise to the Lord with your hearts, always and for everything give thanks to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. (vs 18-21)

As has often been noted, the commandment to "be filled with the Spirit" is in the present tense, indicating continued action. “Keep on being fulfilled,” says Paul. However, the fact that this fulfillment is underway does not prevent us from actively seeking it, nor does it mean that God will not use certain means and times to fill us with His Spirit. But there's no way around it: spiritual fullness is mandatory, not optional. The Holy Spirit is a vital necessity for every child of God.

If spiritual fullness is the correction to carnal life, how can we know if we—and by extension our churches—are filled with the Spirit? It is not the gift of tongues that indicates a Spirit-filled life, as some suggest. In fact, it is useless to isolate one spiritual gift from another and use it as proof of spiritual life (1 Kor. 12:29–30). According to the New Testament, the main evidences for the life of the Spirit are both moralInwonderful, not one or the other. In other words, spiritual gifts are never separate from spiritual truths. If we misunderstand this, we will end up like the Corinthians, brimming with spiritual gifts and devoid of spiritual fruit.

The Holy Spirit is a vital necessity for every child of God.

According to Ephesians 5, we should look for four rather common characteristics associated with a Spirit-filled fellowship:

(Video) The Indwelling and Outflowing of the Holy Spirit - Charles Spurgeon Audio Sermons

  • Talking with each other. Spiritual fullness means not only deep communion with God, but also basic communication with each other. The Spirit-filled Christian will meet fellow brothers and sisters face to face, embrace, rejoice, seek forgiveness when needed, etc.
  • Sing and make music. This is how God works in His people, delivering them in song and Spirit-filled praise.
  • Thanksgiving. Spirit-filled life is not characterized by grumbling and groaning, but by gratitude.
  • Submissive to each other. Humble submission, not self-assertion, is an essential part of Christian behavior - a hallmark of the spiritual life.

How to achieve spiritual fullness

Now that Spirit baptism and fulness have been defined, we do well to consider how we can attain this Spirit-filled life spoken of in the New Testament. We can distinguish three steps to spiritual fullness:remorse,obedience, Inthirst.


If we look at our lives, we will undoubtedly find sin, which always requires repentance. There are areas that need our attention, whether it be our worship, thanksgiving, or submission. We need God's forgiveness for these things, because God has never filled a dirty life. We don't put water in a dirty glass. Why then should we expect God's Spirit to fill dirty vessels? However, God wills and will fill the contrite heart - the heart cleansed from the stain of sin (1 Johannes 1:9).


After repentance comes joyful obedience. "Be filled with the Spirit" is not a suggestion to consider; it is a command to obey. As Jesus exhorted His followers, let us ask the Father to give us the Holy Ghost (Lukas 11:13)? Do we make it part of our prayer routine to ask God to fill us with all His fullness? We are all baptized in the Spirit, but we are also commanded to be continually filled with the Spirit.


Finally, there must exist in us an unquenchable thirst for spiritual fullness (1 Thess. 5:19). If we have an attitude in our hearts that says, "I'm sure this spiritual stuffing thing is fine for someone else, but I'm happy with what I have," then we can't expect to experience everything from God. But if there is a humble cry in our hearts to know Him in all His glory, He will no doubt fill us with His Spirit. God fulfills those who say, “Lord, I surrender everything. Do with me what you want.”

We can view Paul's admonition to be filled with the Spirit as a guideline for Spirit-baptized Christians. Indeed, we are all baptized in the same Spirit, but we are not all filled to the same degree. As we thirst for more of God, we can look forward to the fulfillment of Christ's promise in our lives. As our Lord Himself said, "Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:38).

This article is an adaptation of the sermon"The Holy Spirit Dwells and Fills - Part One"door Alistair Begg. Subscribeto get weekly blog updates.

(Video) The Holy Spirit and You | Billy Graham Classic


Copyright © 2023 , Truth for Life. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing house of Good News Publishers. Used with permission. All rights reserved.


1. Why you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit - Pastor Jack Hayford
(Jack Hayford Legacy Library Channel)
2. Baptism of the Holy Spirit | Reuben A Torrey | Free Christian Audiobook
(Aneko Press)
3. Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit a Core Essential Doctrine? With JR Miller
(Alisa Childers)
5. Baptism of the Holy Spirit - Part 1 by Chuck Smith
6. Understanding the Holy Spirit - Explaining the Faith
(Divine Mercy)


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