Stage 3

Filled with the Spirit


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" Acts 4:31 (see also 2:1-4).

God fills us with His Spirit to empower us for ministry (Acts 1:8; Luke 24:49). The Bible also calls this being "baptised in the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:5). This is not just a one time experience, but is meant to be an important part of our daily walk with God (Acts 4:8; 13:9,52).

"Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit" Ephesians 5:18 (read Luke 11:9-13; Acts 5:32).

Streams of Living Water

"'Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.' 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" John 7:37-39 (read Isaiah 44:3,19-20).

We are not filled with the Holy Spirit for our own sake, but in order to minister to others (read Ephesians 5:18-19). The living water is not just for us to drink but to flow out from us as streams of living water, touching other lives.

"Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land" Isaiah 32:2 (see also verse 6).

Two Ways of Ministry

There are two ways we can live life (read Jeremiah 17:5-8). There are also two ways we can minister. When the Lord rebuked Israel, He pinpointed two primary sins:

"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water" Jeremiah 2:13.

The spring of living water

"O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water" Jer.17:13.

The life of God is like a spring of water. It is constant, never drying up. God wants us to spend time in His presence each day, drawing from the spring of His life. As we are filled with God's Spirit, this spring will overflow in Spirit-filled ministry.

"...but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" John 4:14 (see also Revelation 21:6).

Leaking cisterns

But many Christians have forsaken the spring of living water and "dug their own cisterns." A cistern is like a well, but has no independent source of water. The water must be brought from another place. Many Christians find that their life leaks. They go to church on Sunday, but by Monday all the joy, peace and power has leaked away. They have built cisterns modeled after the ways of this world (see John 14:27).

We can only truly minister out of the spring of God's Spirit. If we try to minister to people in our own strength and ability, independent from God's Spirit, we will either dry up or burn out. Whether in life or in ministry, we too must learn the lesson that God taught Zerubbabel:

"...'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty" Zechariah 4:6.

Life in Overflow

"...You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows" Psalm 23:5.

Jesus not only came to give us eternal life (John 10:28), but also abundant life (John 10:10). God has designed the Christian life to be so abundant that it is in overflow. God does not just give us the peace we need for our lives. He gives more than we need, so that we can share it with others (Matthew 10:13). God does not just supply enough victory to overcome our problem. He gives us more than we need, so that we can share our victory with others (Romans 8:37; Ephesians 3:20).

The Bible records many aspects of the Christian experience that God desires to be in overflow:

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" Romans 15:13 (see also Romans 14:17; 2 Peter 1:3).

There are two ways we can minister to other people - whether it be in witness, prayer or any other kind of ministry. We can minister out of a pressure to perform - to obey the outward rules and regulations that are necessary for us to be "a good Christian." Or we can minister out of the overflow of our own experience in the Lord.

"The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart...For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks" Luke 6:45.

Beyond Measure

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" Ephesians 3:20 (see also Jude 20).

God wants us to be filled with His Spirit and empowered for ministry each and every day. Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit "without limit" (John 3:34) and God is preparing His people to be filled "to the measure of all the fullness of God."

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being...that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" Ephesians 3:16,19 (see also 1:23; 4:13; Colossians 2:9-10).


Copyright 1981,1996 Paul, Bunty and David Collins. All rights reserved. This study may be freely used and reproduced, wholly or in part, by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided copyright and contact information is included.

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