What is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is talked about in at least two ways in Scripture. One refers to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit to indwell people, as prophesied in the Old Testament and fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost after Jesus' ascension. The other is to refer to the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit.

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit would come and rest on people for a season or for a special purpose, but these were specific circumstances and the Spirit was not readily accessible to all (e.g. 1 Samuel 10:10; Judges 3:10; 6:34; 13:25; 14:6). The Old Testament prophet Joel prophesied that there would be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit: "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. . . And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Joel 2:28–29, 32). And so did the prophet Isaiah: "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants" (Isaiah 44:3). The prophesies of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit portrayed a vision of a Holy Spirit outpouring that would be available for all people. This was made possible through Jesus' death and resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

The fulfillment of these Old Testament prophecies happened in the New Testament on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2: "When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utteranceā€ (Acts 2:1–4). Later in the chapter, the apostle Peter spoke to the multitude and described this event as the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy (Acts 2:16–21). There were outpourings of the Holy Spirit throughout the book of Acts on various people groups—the Jewish believers in Acts 2, Samaritan believers in Acts 8, and a group of Gentile believers in Acts 10—all of which go to show that there is no discrimination in Christ. He came to save all people (Galatians 3:28).

When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord we are saved and indwelled with the Holy Spirit (John 14:15–17; Ephesians 1:13–14). The Holy Spirit's presence in our life is the sign of our salvation being sealed (Ephesians 1:13). The Holy Spirit reminds us that we are God's children (Romans 8:15–17). The Holy Spirit within us enables us to daily say yes to God and no to sin; the Spirit brings to our remembrance the words of Christ (John 14:26).

We don't need a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit or walk with Christ. All believers in Christ are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. We are filled with the Holy Spirit when we surrender to His work in our lives, following Him as opposed to quenching Him (Ephesians 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). Even when we choose to go against the Holy Spirit, He will not leave us, though our fellowship with God and effectiveness for His kingdom will suffer.

The Holy Spirit has been poured out and He is present with all who have put their faith in Jesus Christ. He is also active in our world today, present with us in ways we may readily recognize and in ways which seem more commonplace. Our role is to submit to Him in trust, obedience, and worship (Philippians 2:12–13). "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:15–21).

Related Truth:

Who is the Holy Spirit?

What is the role of the Holy Spirit? How is the Holy Spirit active in our lives today?

Are believers supposed to feel the Holy Spirit?

What is the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit? How is it different from God's omnipresence?

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

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Truth about the Holy Spirit

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