In a most practical sense the filling with the Spirit is the result of the baptism with the Spirit. The one follows the other inevitably and surely. But in this scriptural setting, which warrants our use of this terminology, there is a distinct thought. I refer to Acts 4:31, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”
To even the casual reader of the Acts of the Apostles it is very evident that this bit of New Testament history took place some little time after the actual outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon the one hundred and twenty on the Day of Pentecost. Thus this scripture is not textually connected with the statement of John the Baptist which we have already considered. And yet it is the practical consequence of that momentous day of Pentecost.
The beginning of the New Testament Church was now in full swing and the sovereign purpose of God was beginning to dawn in some measure at least upon the believers of that day. Their consuming urge, under the baptism with the Holy Ghost, had driven them out into the streets and public ways to proclaim the joyful news to all who would hear, The very vigor of their proclamation had issued in persecution. As a result Peter and John had been brought before the council. After serious threatenings by the council they were released with positive warning that they must no longer teach and preach in the name of this man Jesus. Immediately they sought out their own company and told them of the significant happenings. And when the group had heard, with one heart they lifted up their voice in prayer that God would grant them courage in the face of dire threatenings so that they might continue the proclamation of the mighty name of Jesus. Praying thus, suddenly the entire place where they had gathered was shaken as with an earthquake and all were freshly filled with the Holy Ghost.
The setting of this manifestation of the Spirit teaches us this simple lesson. They were filled afresh for service and suffering, And it is true, fillings can be repeated — in fact must be repeated. It is the part of the real Christian to serve. And in serving he spends energies not only physically but spiritually and now and again must be refilled for further service, This is the practical ministry of the Holy Ghost for all who have welcomed Him in his fullness, He will come again and again whenever the need arises and freshly fill the depleted spiritual energies that have been heavily drained in sincere and tireless service.
It is the common cry of many lips, “Give us afresh anointing, Lord.” We readily understand the thought but it would have been far more scriptural to have prayed, “Give us a fresh filling, Lord.” The anointing of the Spirit which we will consider briefly at a later point is once and for all. But fillings can be repeated. The seeming ignorance of this precious privilege has made many souls spiritually powerless and weak. It is, we repeat, the happy privilege of all who have received the fullness of the Holy Ghost in His baptism to return as often as heart desires and necessity demands for fresh power and fullness that sanctified hearts may ever triumphantly face the tests of life, making them more than conquerors.
Too many eke out a somewhat spiritual existence even after they have received the baptism with the Holy Ghost merely because they have not taken advantage of this particular ministry of the Spirit. As someone long ago declared — Jesus went about doing good.
Many go about seeking good. If we would follow in His steps and identify our lives with His own; if we would properly carry out the great commission, we must now and again seek His face and like them of old ask for fresh boldness to proclaim His power. He will not disappoint. More collective crying of the church would bring fresh inundations of divine Presence and would grant a greater drive of service and usefulness in whatever is attempted for the extension of the kingdom of God on earth. This is the work of the Holy Ghost, when He has come to you.