The Holy Spirit comes to believers in regeneration. Indeed, to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” beyond His indwelling, we must first be forgiven and restored, as Peter was. When we are saved, we also receive the Great Commission, Jesus’ command that we evangelize the nations. (After this series, I will be focusing on the gospel and its proclamation [with T4G references], Lord willing.) Before the Holy Spirit first descended on the apostles, we also have Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2:1-4, merely ten days after Christ’s ascension, the Holy Spirit descends on the apostles:
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
How amazing this first coming of the Holy Spirit must have been! “Tongues as of fire” descended upon the disciples’ heads as the roar “of a mighty rushing wind … filled the entire house where they were sitting”! The Holy Spirit does not descend upon us believers in this way any more (and many deny modern speaking in tongues—that is a controversy I will not enter at this point), but the Holy Spirit does still descend upon believers. It is the Holy Spirit who regenerates us and causes us to repent and believe, thus being justified:
And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. –Ezekiel 36:27
From the larger context of these verses (and later passages in Acts), we also begin to learn what it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Immediately after being “filled with the Holy Spirit,” Peter began preaching (in tongues) to the people gathered in that room (Acts 2:14-41). After the Sanhedrin release Peter and John from their custody shortly after this event, the early church all pray for boldness; in Acts 4:31, we read that “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to preach the word of God with boldness.” These passages reveal that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we can “preach the word of God,” we can share the gospel with others, “with boldness.” We learn that it is by the Spirit that we faithfully evangelize others.
Acts 13:52 also reveals another truth about being filled with the Holy Spirit: “the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” To be Spirit-filled is to be filled with joy.
Therefore, let us pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we may joyfully spread the gospel. It truly is good news (hallelujah)! … But without relying on the Holy Spirit, we do not truly proclaim it and we do not fully experience joy. Let us then pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we may indeed be filled with joy and proclaim the gospel of our Lord boldly.