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The concept of "being filled" with the Holy Spirit is mentioned multiple times in the New Testament, and according to the book of Acts it appears to have been a crucial aspect of the early Christian life.

According to Pentecostals and Charismatics:

  • What does it mean to be "filled" with the Holy Spirit?
  • What are concrete and practical ways by which Christians can be filled (and stay filled) with the Holy Spirit?

Other perspectives:

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1 What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

The term "Filled with the holy spirit" firstly appeared in the new testament in the verse below:

Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

This is the story of Pentecost Day. The disciples were gathering in the upper room. At this point, it's not clear, what or who fills them. Let's continue

Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

It's very clear through this verse that to be filled with Holy Spirit has a connection with speaking with other tongues or simply we said "speaking in tongues". The sign of someone filled with Holy Spirit can be directly seen when they speak in tongues.

2 What are concrete and practical ways by which Christians can be filled (and stay filled) with the Holy Spirit?

Simple answer: use speaking in tongues especially in private or group prayers

1 Cor 14:14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

1 Cor 14:15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

We can pray in our language which means we pray with our understanding. But we can also use speaking in tongues in our prayer. In that way, you let the Holy Spirit pray with you. This is the practical way to always be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Even Apostle Paul said that:

1 Cor 14:18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all

3 Regarding prophesying

Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

I only find one verse that has a connection between prophesying and speaking in tongues. In that verse, they speak in tongues and then they prophesied. In my experience, we can give some prophecy to our brother and sister in the church without any speaking in tongues. If we are speaking in tongues, it will become a prophecy if there is someone who has a gift to interpret the tongues.

So the conclusion we can use some logical statements like below :

  • If we are filled with the Holy Spirit, there is a sign of speaking in tongues.

  • If we are speaking in tongues and there is some interpretation, it will become prophecy

  • If we are prophesying, it does not always direct sign of filled with the Holy Spirit

4 Regarding boldness in preaching

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.

In this verse, after they are filled with the Holy Spirit, they preach the gospel with boldness. If we just refer to this verse, we will be trapped to the conclusion that the sign of filled with the Holy Spirit is preaching with boldness

But we can also see that in Acts 2 that Apostle Peter preached the gospel with boldness after speaking in tongues happen as the sign of filled with Holy Spirit. Another example

Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them (similar with Acts 2:2) which heard the word.

Acts 10: 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.

So we have four similar stories right now

  1. Acts 2 Filled with the holy spirit > Speaking in tongues > Preach with boldness

  2. Acts 4 Filled with the holy spirit > Preach with boldness

  3. Acts 10 Filled with the holy spirit > Speaking in tongues > magnify God

  4. Acts 19 Filled with the holy spirit > Speaking in tongues > prophesying

Because we have 3 examples that are filled with the holy spirit will follow with speaking in tongues, it will be safer if we assume Acts 4 should actually follow speaking in tongues. We don't know why Luke the author of Acts did not write it on Acts 4 but we can not neglect three other stories mentioning speaking with tongues.

You can also read the story of Smith Wigglesworth. He preaches the gospel with boldness even though he does not have any sign of speaking in tongues. After he filled with Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, he preached the gospel even greater and even bolder.

So preaching the gospel with boldness is not directly a sign that he/she has been filled with the Holy Spirit

Further Notes

We need to know the difference between being filled with the Holy Spirit and having the holy spirit in our hearts. I will stop here to know your response first.

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  • The sign of someone filled with Holy Spirit can be directly seen when they speak in tongues. - what about prophesying or boldness for preaching?
    – user50422
    Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 14:55
  • Hi ! Allow me to explain in another post answer below because I feel the comments feature here are kinda limited to explain. I was sleeping last night so I can only answer your comments just now. Hope it will give you definite answer Commented Nov 26, 2021 at 6:02
  • I know someone who was taught, in a classroom setting, how to speak in tongues. Commented Nov 26, 2021 at 15:23
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    ... Acts 2:6-8 continues "because each one heard them speaking his own language. 7 Astounded and amazed, they asked, “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 How is it then that each of us hears them in his own native language?" This isn't a description of glossalalia, it's of xenoglossia. Commented Nov 26, 2021 at 22:10
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    @OneGodtheFather said “it’s not difficult to make sounds like glossalalia”. Everyone is welcomed to try to make that sound like glossalalia, but will there be anyone who can interpret? I doubt any glossalalia imitation can have some interpretation from he / she who are given the gift to interpret the speaking in tongues. Bonus : I witness my friend speaking in Arabic even though he never learn any (xenoglossia). We were trying to explain the gospel to a muslim man and after we pray together, the man said that he heard my friend speaks very clear Arabic words. Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 17:52

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