Being Filled With the Spirit
About the Guest
The Holy Spirit is the secret ingredient in every believer's life, says Francis Chan. The reality for believers, Chan says, is that God lives inside our bodies, and that should transform the way we live. Chan explains the difference between the baptism of the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the secret ingredient in every believer’s life, says Francis Chan.
Being Filled With the Spirit
Bob: Do you know what you and Billy Graham have in common? Pastor and author Francis Chan says, “You both have the Holy Spirit.”
Francis: I think a lot of the problem in the church today is—we depend on these super- stars—speakers, authors, musicians—that are so gifted. People don’t realize, “No, God wants to use all of us.” He wants to supernaturally fill us so that people are blown away by the stay-at-home mom who has so much patience. God says that is who He has chosen to shame the world. Our light should shine so that men would see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, February 26th.
Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Are people seeing, in you, the fruit of the Holy Spirit? We are going to talk about that and more today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know what I think—and I can say this because it is part of personal experience with me—but I think, within the body of Christ today, you’ve got some folks—and I’ve probably been close to them—who are a little afraid—
to talk too much, think too much, or get too close to—
Dennis: Or get too excited about.
Bob: —the Holy Spirit.
Bob: I mean, I came to faith in a time where I saw what I would still describe as a lot of spiritual, off-beat excess—that was an unbiblical approach to life—that was attributed to the Holy Spirit. So, with that, I kind of went in another direction and thought, “Well, we are going to keep it tame, and a box, and a little more domesticated here.” I am not sure that was the right response to what I was watching.
Dennis: You know, Bob, when you started talking about that, I immediately thought about worshipping in Harlem. I was at a church in Harlem that used to be a public school that a church there had taken over. Actually, it had been given to the community. The service lasted somewhere between four and six hours because I think it started before I got there.—
I may have left before it was fully over; okay? But it took a while before my foot started tapping. Then, about another hour later, I started clapping a little bit.
Bob: In rhythm?
Dennis: In rhythm—
Dennis: —to the music; you know?
Bob: I was just checking.
Dennis: Before long, I was going: “Man! Our church back home is really good. I mean, it teaches the Bible. It has great worship—it really does—but we are the frozen chosen!” You know, we’re back there—and we are all staid and stuffed a little bit. We’re just afraid of what it looks like to be happy, as Christians.
Now, there are some people, who are listening to our broadcast right now. They are getting afraid because they are thinking, “Bob and Dennis,”—
Bob: —“have gone off the deep-end.”
Dennis: —“have gone off the deep-end about the Holy Spirit.” And we haven’t. But we have a guest here who is going to help us—
Bob: Oh, now—wait! Maybe, we have gone off the deep-end. That might be a good place to go! [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, it may be; but let me introduce our guest. Francis Chan joins us on FamilyLife Today. Francis—welcome.
Francis: Thanks. Good to be back.
Dennis: Francis is a daddy of four, a husband of one, and serves as the chancellor and founder of Eternity Bible College.
Bob: But you know what is not on his resume—that really is the defining issue in his life?—his surfboard, baby. You love—
Dennis: Is he a surfer?
Bob: You like to surf; don’t you?
Francis: I am not a good surfer.
Bob: But you like to surf; don’t you?
Francis: I love it. Oh, I love it.
Bob: How often in the year would you be out on your board?
Francis: Probably 15 to 20 times. Not too often.
Bob: But you would like to be out there—double that; wouldn’t you?
Francis: Oh, yes, some day. [Laughter]
Dennis: People are afraid of the Holy Spirit, though; aren’t they, Francis?
Francis: They are. You know why? A lot of times, when we talk about the Holy Spirit, we’ll immediately jump to these controversial issues. We’ll immediately jump to, maybe, a little side-note-type issue and forget the main point that God Himself lives inside my body. That is huge! That should change everything—that one person is dead and another person is alive—one person does not have God inside of him and another person does.
Dennis: I want you to share an illustration and a story you share from your book, Forgotten God, because you compare it to a basketball player.
Francis: Oh, yes.
Dennis: You remember the story you tell?
Francis: Yes. It would be like—if I told you—if you and I played one-on-one basketball, you and I—we’d probably be pretty competitive. I don’t know if you play basketball. Did you?
Dennis: I did. I did.
Bob: He went to college—a basketball scholarship.
Dennis: I’d probably take you.
Francis: Okay. So, maybe, after this, we’ll see if you are a liar or not. [Laughter] Okay?
Well, let’s say we play regularly; and we are pretty competitive. Then, I tell you one day—I show up on the court; and I go: “Dennis, you’ll never believe it. I had an encounter with God, where God Himself said He was going to put His Spirit in me to give me a supernatural ability to play basketball.” Can you imagine what you would expect? You would expect: “Okay. Let me see this because, if it is a God-thing, he is going to be awesome.”
Dennis: It is Michael Jordan on steroids.
Francis: Exactly! Exactly!
But what if we play, and you beat me again, and it is exactly the same old Francis? You would start to question and go: “You are such a liar! You told me God came into you to give you this power.”
My problem is: “How do you think the world looks at us, as believers, when we say the Holy Spirit of God has come into us to change us—to give us this supernatural character, the supernatural joy, the supernatural peace—and then, they look at our lives and go: “Wait a second. You are the same as you were last year—five years ago. I don’t see any difference.” They’ll start to question. I mean, we would—it is just natural.
Bob: So, the off-beat stuff—you know what I’m talking about when I talk about—
Francis: Oh, yes.
Bob: —seeing excesses, or things attributed to the Holy Spirit, where I go, “I just think that is out of bounds.” But that does cause us—don’t you think—to kind of shut the whole deal down?
Francis: Exactly! That is so sad because, now, we are responding in fear—
going, “Well, I don’t want to become that.” It comes to the point, at the end of the day, you go, “Well, what did the Holy Spirit do for you, then?” Let’s quit arguing about what He doesn’t do. Can’t we just all admit that He is supposed to do a lot? Then, look in your life and say: “Where is the fruit?” How are you different from your neighbors who don’t believe in Jesus Christ?”
Dennis: To that point, let’s just real quickly share with our listeners who the Holy Spirit is because you do this in your book. You say He is a person with emotions.
Dennis: He is God. He is omniscient, omnipresent. He is omnipotent. So, you are saying He is equal to God—that is who the Holy Spirit is.
Francis: Absolutely, absolutely. A lot of times, we don’t treat Him as a person in the Trinity. We just treat Him as this abstract power. A lot of times, I hear Him referred to as It rather than Him. The Bible says: “He decides who to give gifts to.
“He Himself can be grieved. He is someone who wants to lead us.” So, when you see Him as a person, you realize you don’t try to harness a person. He is there to lead you. I think that is part of our problem—is we’ve tried to control Him rather than really submit to Him.
Bob: We’re afraid that God is going to be disruptive to the life we’re living. The reality is—He probably wants to be a little disruptive to the complacency that we are in. Don’t you think?
Francis: Yes, He wants to lead. We don’t want to surrender and let someone else lead us because we don’t trust that He is going to lead us in a greater direction. We are fearful that He is not—that God is not a good Father—leading His children to a life of more fulfillment—of greater abundance.
Dennis: Yesterday, one of our children wrote me an email and said, “I am going to take a friend out to lunch tomorrow, whose marriage is just a wreck.”
My daughter said: “Daddy, what should I do? What should I say?” So, real quickly, I spit out a number of things that she should consider and some alternatives that she could use to minister to her. I sent the email; and then I thought, “I left out—I left out the most important thing.”
I wrote my daughter back with a second email. I said: “One other thing—I want you to pray and ask God for wisdom. Expect the Holy Spirit to fill you and give you the right words when you step into that situation.” She did end up using some of the things I recommended, at that point.
But I think the point is—with our children or in our own lives—it is back to something you said earlier: “We need to be expecting God to show up. We need to be expecting God to use us in other people’s lives to bring about thoughts and counsel, always in line with the Scripture,—
but to help other people and be used, by Him, to change their lives.”
Francis: Absolutely. I remember a time when I was about to counsel one of my best friends. I mean, I had written letters to him, emailed him, called him, left him messages because he was about to leave his wife for this other girl. He was coming over to my house. I just thought, “This will probably be my last chance with him.”
I remember getting on my knees and begging, begging, begging—saying: “God, You have to do something. Make it supernatural.” I said, “Do it like You did in the Bible times where I am just surprised by You.” I remember him coming in. I was saying some things—kind of just letting him “have it.” Nothing! Nothing was phasing him—nothing was phasing him.
Then, at one point in the conversation, he stops me. This was the weirdest thing. He stops me. He goes: “Francis, stop! Stop!” He goes: “I get it. I get it.” I’m like, “What?” He goes: “I don’t know what you even said; but suddenly, everything in my mind makes sense now. I’m done. I’m leaving,”—and he walks out the door. I just sat there, in awe—like shocked, like:
“He doesn’t even know what I said! [Laughter] He doesn’t even remember anything!” It was just—I can’t explain. Don’t you love that stuff when you go, “I certainly didn’t do that.” He just walked out of the house—went back to his wife. Everything is—
Dennis: The thing I want our listeners to catch out of your excitement around telling that story is—this isn’t just for the paid professional.
Dennis: It is not for the guys or the women who go to seminary—
Bob: You don’t have to write a book—
Dennis: —to get a degree.
Bob: —on the Holy Spirit to get there.
Dennis: You don’t have to write a book. This is for Mommies and Daddies. This is for engaged couples that are working through some issues in their relationship before they get married. This is for married couples. They need to experience God—not later—now, today!
The Christian life was not meant to be some humdrum, boring existence, where you show up once a week, and do your “duty”,—
—and pay some 10 percent tax, and then go off and live your own life. It was meant to be a seven-day experience with the Creator of the universe.
Francis: Isn’t that what the world wants to see, too? God wants to use those whom the world would say: “Ah, they have no natural gifting. They have no natural talent. They are not the brightest people in the world.” God says that is whom he has chosen to shame the world.
I think a lot of the problem in the church today is—we depend on these superstars—speakers, authors, musicians—that are so gifted. People don’t realize: “No, don’t you understand? God wants to use all of us.” He wants to supernaturally fill us so that people are blown away by the stay-at-home mom who has so much patience and so much peace—even when their child is going through difficult times—that they are blown away and go, “What is that about you?” She can point to her God.
The Bible says our light—all of us—our light should shine so that men would see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven. When I look at that verse, I think to myself: “A lot of times, I’ll do things; and God will—people will not glorify God. They’ll glorify me and say, ‘Francis—good job. Hey, Francis, that was great that you did that.’”
Francis: I don’t want that. I want to do things so supernatural that people know, “Okay, Francis did not pull that off;” and they give glory to God, the Father.
Bob: Let me ask you about—because I think there are folks who are confused about what the Bible describes as being filled with the Spirit. Give us an understanding of that. There are a couple of times in your book where you talk about people having more of the Holy Spirit. I think that might be misunderstood by some. Explain what you mean.
Francis: Yes. I don’t mean that you get more of the Holy Spirit, but you surrender more of yourself to the Holy Spirit. This idea of being filled—the Bible teaches, in Ephesians 5,—
he explains that we shouldn’t get drunk on wine, but we need to be filled with the Spirit. It is an ongoing action—much like getting drunk. You get drunk—you know, not that we would know. [Laughter]
Dennis: I’m glad you clarified that!
Francis: When other people get drunk—but the idea of getting drunk is that you don’t stay drunk. You sober up after a while. If you want to stay drunk, that is going to take some effort.
Bob: You are going to have to keep drinking!
Francis: Oh, yes! A lot of times, we think, with the Holy Spirit, that it is this one-time action, where we are filled and we are filled for good. No, the Bible says you continually be filled with Him—you continually surrender to Him. Say: “Holy Spirit, what do You want me to do now? Holy Spirit, empower me now.” It is an ongoing—ongoing action.
Bob: And like somebody who has had too much wine—
Bob: —and, now, their behavior is influenced—controlled by having too much wine. To be filled with the Spirit is to have that same thing.
To have the encounter with the Spirit so that your actions—your behavior, your mannerisms—are now controlled by the Spirit; right?
Francis: Yes. You can tell when someone is drunk; right?
Francis: And in the same way, people ought to be able to tell when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and go: “I want that! I want that. Whatever he has, I want that.”
Dennis: That kind of infectious love for Christ—that is what the world is looking for and what it is desperate for today. It doesn’t need a plastic, veneer version of cookie-cutter Christianity. It needs real, authentic people—who are individuals—who are expressing their gifts and their abilities, fully under the power of the Holy Spirit.
Francis: Yes. If you look in Scripture—I was just reading Tozer on this. He wrote this book, The Mystery of the Holy Spirit. He says, “Do you see anywhere in Scripture where someone receives the Holy Spirit and doesn’t know it?” [Laughter] Wow! That is a great challenge.
Dennis: I may not have known His name, at that point.
Bob: You are saying it is possible to have the indwelling Holy Spirit come live in you, in an encounter with Christ, and not understand all of the theology of what is going on.
Dennis: Not understand everything that happened to me—exactly.
Bob: I was reading, this past weekend, about some of what happened during the Second Great Awakening in our country. I was reading about an evangelist—a guy named Asahel Nettleton. He was describing these meetings he had been preaching in. He said there was a solemnity and a sobriety that came to the meeting. He said, “But people were troubled.” He said, “You could tell, after these meetings, people troubled about the reality of their sin.”
Interestingly, he would describe how he would see people, who were wrestling and troubled with the reality of their sin, all of a sudden come to a point where they went: “Oh, I love Christ. Oh, I do love Christ.” This transformation would take place. I thought, “When someone is immersed in the Spirit—when they are regenerated by the power of God,—
“they are going to love Christ.”
I was thinking about your question: “How does somebody know if he has the Holy Spirit?” I would just say, “Well, do you love Christ?” Somebody would say, “Well, I don’t love Him perfectly.” Well, none of us loves Him perfectly; but, “Do you love Christ?” People who do not have the Holy Spirit don’t love Jesus; do they?
Francis: No; absolutely not. In fact, Paul says, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” Now, obviously, he means saying, “Jesus is Lord,” and really meaning it because anyone can say those three words.
Francis: But he is saying: “This is going to take the Spirit of God for you to actually believe that Jesus Christ truly is and should be the Lord of your life.”
Dennis: Okay. Here is the question, Francis. Let’s say there is a mom, who has been listening to us. She just dropped her kids off at school. She was yelling at them— impatient with them.
Bob: It was not a good morning.
Dennis: There is a husband, who is on his way to work. He just had words with his wife. They slept on two different sides of the bed last night; okay? It is just not going well. How would you advise them?
Francis: I wouldadvise them to get on their knees, individually, before the Lord, and just believe in His Word, and to repent. I remember, one time, when my oldest daughter was only like two years old. I got so angry that I picked her up. I screamed; and I said, “Shut up!” I was out of control—I just remember putting her down and going, “What did I just do?”
I remember just going down to the living room, and going on my knees, and crying: “Oh, God, I don’t ever want to do that again!” When I told my wife, I go: “Here is what I just did! I yelled at my two-year-old!—I mean—just with this uncontrollable—why would I even say those words?”
Then, I went back into my little two-year-old’s room and said: “Daddy really messed up. I shouldn’t yell like that; but Daddy has prayed—and prayed that he will never do that again.” I just went and got on my knees and said: “God, I know You can change me. I believe it—I see it in Scripture.
“I’ve had these issues with anger. God, please change me; change me; change me.” And believe—the Bible says that if you doubt, you are not going to receive anything. I really believed, at that moment, that God would change me. I can tell you—right now, she is 14. I haven’t yelled at her since. Twelve years—it is a supernatural thing that He does.
Dennis: I like where you started—confession of sin.
Dennis: I think that is the beginning point to being filled with Spirit. It is not some general confession that covers the universe of all sins.
Dennis: It is the confession of “the” sin or the sins you have just committed that you are aware of—that He has made you mindful of. Then, it is the surrender—the picture of you on your knees. It is saying: “I can’t, but You can. I yield to You, God. You are my Lord, my Master, and my Maker. By faith, I yield to You to do in me what I cannot do for myself. Give me the control of my anger.”
Francis: And we have to do it with faith.
We have to believe the promises of God—to know that: “No temptation has overcome you except that which is common to man. And God is faithful. He will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you can handle. He will always give you a way of escape.” So, knowing that, you have to come before the Lord and say, “Lord, I know that I can overcome this—I am sure of it because Your Word promises me that.”
Dennis: Okay. Here is the assignment before the sun sets, if this is an evening broadcast, where you are listening now. I want you to make sure you don’t finish this day without knowing you are filled with the Spirit. Why live another day of your life outside of the experience of Almighty God in your life, where you can see Him at work in you, and through you—using you with others—but also directing and comforting you in things and issues you are facing? Why would anyone want to go through life like that?
Bob: You are saying we do that by confessing, repenting, and exercising faith—believing the gospel. Again, I have a friend of mine who said, “We tend to think that we are to repent and believe the gospel in order to come to faith in Christ.” That is true. But he says, “Then, we think, ‘Okay, we are done with that.’” No. He says, “Every day, I have to repent and believe the gospel again.”
When you talk about being filled with the Spirit, I know it gets confusing for folks, sometimes, to think about—the Bible talks about being sealed with the Spirit, being baptized with the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit. Sometimes, those words can get used interchangeably. Some of that is what happens when we are first saved, but being filled with the Spirit is something that is an ongoing part of our life in Christ.
To keep being filled with the Spirit is how that passage reads and how we are instructed. This is why I think it is helpful for people to get a copy of Francis’ book because—
it helps clarify some of the—well, what are sometimes confusing aspects of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
You can get a copy of the book, which is called, Forgotten God, by going to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. Information about the book is available there. You can order from us, online, if you would like. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com; or call
1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That is 1-800- “F” as in family “L” as in life and then, the word, “TODAY”. When you get in touch with us, we’ll let you know how you can get Francis’ book sent to you.
Let me take a minute and just say a word of thanks to the folks who have gotten in touch with us, recently, to share some of what God has been doing in their lives and in their families. Our team gets together once a week. We pray specifically for prayer requests that come in from FamilyLife Today listeners, donors, Legacy Partners. We appreciate all of you who get in touch with us—
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Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk more about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We’re going to talk about what happened the day the Jehovah’s Witnesses showed up at Francis Chan’s door. I hope you can tune in tomorrow for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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