How Does “Being Filled with the Spirit” Relate to Christ?
[Editor’s Note: In Ephesians 5:18, the Apostle Paul instructs the believers not to get drunk on wine, but instead “be filled with the Spirit.” In today’s church, some believers emphasize being filled with the Spirit while others emphasize a relationship with Christ. But according to Paul, the Christian life is not one or the other, it’s both. This blog post explains why.]
To be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), means that everything Christ is and offers dwells in us right now—not in reduced supply but in all of his fullness (Eph. 3). So much so, that the Spirit’s indwelling presence is sometimes boiled down to one phrase: “Christ in you” (Rom. 8 and Col. 1). Even in the darkest moments, the Spirit is powerfully at work unleashing fresh expressions of the bounty of God’s promises to us in Jesus.
The Church has not received half a Savior. Wherever the Spirit abides, ALL of Jesus abides.
Of course, at times we don’t see his fullness manifested in every believer, or in every congregation. But if we seek him, remain open to him, stay alert to his presence and remain ready to receive his work among us; if we offer ourselves daily to him to live at the center of who Christ is, where Christ is headed, and how Christ gets blessed, then the Spirit will make the kingdom our theme.
Metaphors of the Spirit
Maybe a few metaphors would help to clarify this connection. For example, the Spirit is like:
- an alarm clock, awakening us to Christ and fuller dimensions of his supremacy;
- a pair of eyeglasses, enabling us to see Christ more clearly for who he really is;
- a cell phone, keeping us in constant communication with the Lord of life;
- a sunrise, casting rays of everlasting glory all over us right now and enabling us to boldly travel into the full daylight of God’s kingdom purposes;
- a playbill, describing for us the plot of future productions, revealing things to come.
By whatever metaphor we might choose, one ultimate truth stands out: The Spirit unites me with Christ in a way that is qualitatively the way I can expect to abide in him forever. The Spirit does not simply engrave God’s promises on my heart; instead, he engraves on my heart the promise-giver himself! He wants me to remain consumed with Christ as my one great passion. He is at work to deposit in me a faith in Jesus that stirs me regularly to seek him and the benefits that his reign produces.
Reflections of Jesus’ Earthly Ministry
From Pentecost forward, the Spirit has continued his work of introducing believers to “the powers of the age to come” (Heb. 6), causing those powers to operate within us in ways reflective of Jesus’ own extraordinary earthly ministry (Heb. 2). Just as the miracles of Jesus were signs to his audience of who he is and what God would grant them at the culmination of history, so those same powers function in believers today as precursors of the same destiny.
To state it another way, physical miracles might be viewed as symbols of the radical transformation promised for all creation when Jesus comes back. Healings (whenever God chooses to grant them) provide us samplings, if you will, of the day all things will be delivered from their bondage to decay (Rom. 8). The Spirit uses miracles to advertise the Consummation and keep our hearts yearning for the fullness of our Savior’s reign. We might say that heaven’s temporal signs and wonders are meant to provide the Church appetizers for even more of Christ’s glory up ahead.
Editor’s Note: Believers cannot choose between Jesus or the Holy Spirit. To choose Jesus is to choose the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with Jesus. May you continue to be filled with the Spirit as you overflow with the fullness of Christ!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Bryant
Known as a proclaimer of Christ and Messenger of Hope, David Bryant is the founder and president of Proclaim Hope!, a ministry whose goal is to serve a nationwide Christ Awakening. David is the author of five books, including Christ Is ALL! Join in the Joyful Awakening to the Supremacy of God’s Son.