Is the receiving of the Holy Spirit a once-for-all experience?

Baptism of the Holy Spirit not a once-for-all experience

We have already noted that the expressions “baptized in the Holy Spirit” and “filled with the Holy Spirit” are interchangeable (Acts 1:8; 2:4). The following passages prove that being filled with the Spirit is not an once-in-a-lifetime experience. It continues to occur in a believer’s life when the believer calls on God for empowerment.

Three instances in the Book of Acts bear this out. First, Peter experienced a fresh enablement of the Spirit when he and John were brought before the religious authorities following the healing of the lame man at the temple gate. When they were challenged as to the power by which the miracle was performed, Luke records: “Then Peter, filled [literally, having been filled] with the Holy Spirit, said to them….” (4:8). He was given precisely the right thing to say. This was a fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit would give believers appropriate words during such times (Matthew 10:17-20; Mark 13:9-11; Luke 12:11,12).

Second, Paul had a similar experience of special endowment when he confronted Elymas the sorcerer. Luke recorded: “Paul, filled [again, literally, having been filled] with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze upon him” (Acts 13:9). In this power encounter, the Spirit came upon Paul to enable him to combat one who was a “son of the devil” (verse 10).

Third, the early believers who faced persecution if they continued to proclaim Christ prayed, “Grant that Thy bond-servants may speak Thy word with all confidence” (Acts 4:29). The Lord’s response: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit (the Greek is identical with that of 2:4) and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (verse 31).

Paul encouraged believers to “be filled [literally, keep on being filled] with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

This ongoing aspect of the Spirit’s infilling is also mentioned by Luke when he wrote that “the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52).

Acts 2:4 is the initial “filling” of the Spirit in the case of the original Apostles and disciples.  Acts 4:31 also mentioned the disciples being “filled” with the Spirit but it is assumed that this is a second experience by the disciples and therefore did not require the presence of tongues.