Over the years as a Christian I’ve heard countless sermons and numerous theologies focused on the issue of the difference between being filled with the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation/conversion, and the apparent additional filling/experience of the Holy Spirit in one’s subsequent walk.
There are many verses in the New Testament that suggest people can be full, or filled with the Holy Spirit in specific or additional ways to that which obvious takes place when we surrender our lives to Christ, and the Holy Spirit comes to take up residency in us (1 Corinthians 6:19).
This has formed the basis of many a small group debate, or conversation between Christians that I have witnessed (and participated in) over the years.
As deep an issue it is for Christians to explore, it can be a stumbling block to the newly-saved especially when they have no church, faith or religious background. I constantly seek to remind myself that the things I know, the phrases I use, and the words I know the meaning of are completely alien to so many around me in today’s society: people who never went to Sunday School as a child, never heard the nativity story, never read the Bible, don’t even know what the Trinity is let alone understand it!
In my quiet time this morning therefore I was pleased to arrive at an analogy that I believe I will find helpful in the future when talking this issue through with new Christians and trying to explain the difference between receiving the Holy Spirit at conversion, and experiencing His filling as we walk on with Him.
Bear with me as I try to put this into words!
If I was to describe my house, I could say it has water. By that, I would mean it is plumbed into the main, national water system. All the water in the local reservoirs is at my disposal.
By saying our house has water, I don’t mean that if you open the front door a tidal wave will come out!
When you surrender yourself to Christ, it is a little bit like getting plumbed in to the mains. God installs a pipe, a conduit, from Him to you, His Spirit connects to your spirit. You are now “plumbed in”. You had the pipework – we are all designed to be in relationship with Him – but you weren’t connected (Adam and Eve took care of that). At the point you accept the salvation of Christ, the plumber comes in and finally, you are connected in to the mains source.
You have water!
But think a moment… carry the analogy on…. If you go and sit in your bath, the bath may have water – it is plumbed in – but you are not wet! You need to turn the tap on. You need to open that connection and let the water flow. Your bath needs to be filled!
You control the flow. There is more water available that you as an individual could use even if you turned all the taps on in the house and let them run. It is up to you to manage that flow. You can have the taps on full, on a slow trickle – or off.
So many of us at conversion have an experience that is akin to finding water – and then fitting the tap and turning it off. Changing imagery, I think of those drilling for oil and the moment it gushes up, and men rush to put a cap on it, so that they can harness it (and not just get covered in oil).
When you first met with God, was it like that? An overwhelming sense of Him. A filling. A flood of experience and emotion that you had never experienced before. I know for many that can be the case. But after the music faded and the preacher had left the building, when you left that meeting, when you got home… was it different? The spring had been capped. The tap shut off.
Every time you go to church, or put that worship CD on in the car, or travel to hear some amazing preacher, go to that healing meeting… are you really there to get the tap turned on again? To experience that flooding?
“Fill us afresh Holy Spirit!” we pray, we sing. “Flood us!” we cry. I wonder if God looks on us in frustration (I know I would!) and says “the valve is on full from My end… I’m waiting on you to open the tap your end!”
Have you ever gone to turn off the tap (I’m talking actual not metaphorical again now) and turned it the wrong way? Suddenly the water flow increases instead of decreasing. You turn it the other way and nothing seems to happen, so you start to panic and turn it back again, flustering until you finally work it out and turn the tap off? Or is it just me that often does that?!
THAT is the place I want to get to with the Holy Spirit – to have Him flooding out, gushing out, flooding my life and for me to find I’ve forgotten/can’t work out how to “turn the tap off”. I want it FULL ON and OPEN and to be someone who can cope with leaving it that way.
Oh boy what that would feel like! I look around the Kingdom and you can sometimes catch glimpses of people who are obviously living that way – and I want that for myself!
What a dangerous prayer this is but…. God guide me to the point, Holy Spirit give me courage, to be so open to You, so lost in that flood, that I CANNOT turn off the Source, but that I learn to live in the abundant, drenching, through to the core refreshing flood of Your Spirit.