The Spirit-Filled Life: More Than a One-Time Experience
Tue, May 31, 2011
Rose McCormick Brandon prayed to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. She was. Read her story from the June/July testimony and check out other stories in this issue.
[Note to subscribers: The Canada Post strike has resulted in a delay in the delivery of the June/July 2011 issue of testimony. Hard copies are expected to be delivered once regular postal services resume.]
by Rose McCormick Brandon
Few in our little congregation knew less about the Holy Spirit than I did. But I knew one thing. Now that I’d become a Christian, I should ask the Holy Spirit to baptize me. Love for God made me eager to receive everything He offered, so I prayed for the Holy Spirit to fill me in the same way He had filled first-century Christians.
For months I prayed. Nothing happened. It seemed the Holy Spirit baptism was meant for everyone but me. “Don’t give up. Be persistent,” friends said. In obedience to them I prayed on. Then, one Sunday evening as I listened to the sermon, a ball of warmth settled in my chest. When the service ended, I knelt with the congregation to pray. The instant my knees touched the floor, I began to speak rapturous words in another language. For about an hour I was unaware of anyone but God. Later, at home, I spent the night under my sheets in whispered prayer, afraid to fall asleep in case the blessing would disappear.
At the time of this experience I didn’t understand that the Holy Spirit was God, the third person in the Trinity. I didn’t know I should seek the Spirit Himself, not only the ability to speak in tongues. Sleep has never robbed anyone of the Spirit, but I didn’t know that either. I also hadn’t heard of any controversy over tongues. As far as I knew, everyone who believed in Jesus had been baptized in the Spirit. If I’d known that some fine Christians believed the era of speaking in tongues had long passed, I might have been less eager.
Fortunately, knowledge of the Spirit isn’t a prerequisite to receiving Him. As a member of God’s family, the promise of the Spirit recorded in Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:8 included me, even if my theology was a little shaky. There was much I didn’t know about the Holy Spirit, but thankfully my prayers weren’t impeded by my ignorance.
An unidentifiable spark in my soul burst into flame when the Spirit baptized me. I thought it would burn forever without help from me. After a time, the glow of the miraculous left me. I felt dry. The ability to speak in tongues wasn’t snatched away. After the initial baptism experience, the ability to speak in tongues is no longer a reliable indicator that a person is Spirit-filled. Miscellaneous scoundrels and assorted apostates speak in tongues. The one true evidence of the indwelling Spirit is a fervent love for God. Without love, the prattle of a tongues-speaker annoys like the scrape of metal on metal.
I have learned that a Spirit-filled life cannot rest on a one-time experience. It requires many infillings. After Charles Finney received “overwhelming baptisms of the Holy Ghost”
on the day of his conversion, he found that with a few simple words he could persuade others to believe in Jesus. From time to time, Finney felt this power diminish. He used the same words and aimed them in the same direction, but they failed to hit their intended mark. Whenever this happened, Finney fasted and prayed. “After humbling myself and crying out for help, the power would return upon me with all its freshness.”
What power was Finney talking about? God’s power that comes into a person who is filled with the Spirit, the same power that took control of the disciples, filled them with courage and freed them from their inferiorities. This power, fuelled by divine love, sets us apart and labels us as God’s people.
The Holy Spirit empowers ordinary human beings to do Christ’s work on earth. When we neglect the Spirit, our love for Christ loses intensity. Power and courage diminish. Our work, words and prayers lack the imprint of heaven. In her book The Helper
, Catherine Marshall observed that many believers live weak lives because they’ve ignored the Holy Spirit. “They have no concept of a living contemporary Lord living inside them and working through them to redeem and heal others.”
“When we neglect the Spirit, our love for Christ loses intensity. Power and courage diminish. Our work, words and prayers lack the imprint of heaven.”
Most believers begin their walk with the Holy Spirit as I did—in ignorance. But ignorance can’t continue. As we mature in the faith, we soon realize that if our lives are to amount to anything at all, we will need many encounters with God the Holy Spirit.
When our souls run on empty, when our minds are distracted from godly things, when our words for Christ lack impact, if we ask Him, the Holy Spirit will fill us again and again. He will pour God’s love into our hearts and equip us to live the life Christ has prepared for us.
Being baptized in the Spirit is not a goal to attain, as I first thought, but a gateway to many energizing refillings.
Rose McCormick Brandon’s published work appears in magazines, devotionals and books in Canada and the United States. Rose, a graduate of EPBC, attends Peoples Church Hamilton and is a professional member of The Word Guild. Visit Rose’s blog at rosemccormickbrandon.wordpress.com or e-mail her at email@example.com.
This article appears in the June/July issue of testimony, the monthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.
Photo © istockphoto.com
. Charles G. Finney, Power From on High—What Is It?
(originally published in The Independent
, New York, January 18, 1872). 
. Ibid. 
. Catherine Marshall, The Helper
(Texas: Chosen Books, 1978).
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