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Aletheia - (ἀλήθεια - "Truth")

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Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

What does it mean to be “filled with the Spirit”?


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What happens when a person is “filled with the Spirit”? Is it an experience we are to seek? Is it possible to be “un-filled”? Are there pre-requisites to being filled? Should we pray to be filled? What, precisely, does the NT have to say about being filled with the Spirit?

There are fifteen verses in the NT that describe individuals as being “filled with” or “full of” the Holy Spirit. Fourteen of them are in Luke and Acts. Although some writers see a difference between the two phrases, they are most likely synonymous. Four people are described this way in Luke’s Gospel: John (1:15), Elizabeth (1:41), Zacharias (1:67), and Jesus (4:1). John’s filling was special (”while in the womb”). Elizabeth and Zecharias followed the OT pattern of temporary filling. Although Jesus lived the prototypical Spirit-filled life, it’s dangerous to generalize from the single verse in Luke’s Gospel.

Ten verses in Acts describe a variety of subjects—the Jerusalem church (2:4; 4:31), Peter (4:8), Stephen (6:3, 5; 7:55), Barnabas (11:24), and Paul (9:17; 13:9, 52)—with some individuals/groups being mentioned multiple times. This latter group of passages suggests that a good definition of being filled with the Spirit is “being so given to following Christ that His character and power are clearly evident in your life.”

The final NT verse is Ephesians 5:18. Since that verse occurs in a teaching passage, the remainder of this post will be devoted to that passage. To set the context briefly, 5:15 introduces a section that extends through 6:9. Within that larger section, 5:15-21 introduces the basic topic: How to walk with wisdom (5:15) and understanding (5:17). The sentence that begins in verse 18 extends through verse 21. The command to “be filled” in verse 18 calls for continuing action. In other words, Paul expects us to be so given to following Christ that his character and power are clearly evident in our lives. Verses 19-21 provide four tests by which we can know if we are filled with the Spirit.

The first test is the edification test (v.19a). Although the first part of verse 19 uses musical terms, you don’t need to be musical to do it—the verb is “speaking” not singing. In any case, the activity is directed toward “one another,” and the intent is to edify. How do you edify one another? Look back at Eph 4:29-32:

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such as is good for edification according to the need, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

How do you treat other believers? What comes out of your mouth: words of life or words of death? Do you want to know if you are filled with the Spirit? Test yourself and see if you pass the edification test.

The second test is the worship test (v.19b). The first part of verse 19 is directed toward other believers, but the second part is directed toward “the Lord.” The second test is one of worship. That worship is to be done “with your heart,” that is, with your entire being. Do you remember what Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4:23-24?

For an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.

Is your worship whole-hearted or half-hearted? Do you want to know if you are filled with the Spirit? Test yourself and see if you pass the worship test.

The third test is the thanksgiving test (v.20). Verse 20 is also directed toward “God the Father” and focuses on thanksgiving. Paul uses three qualifiers to amplify this test. “Always” points out the frequency with which we are to give thanks (cf. 1 Thess 5:17; Eph 6:18). “For all things” points out the occasion for giving thanks (cf. Rom 8:28). “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” points out the reason for giving thanks (cf. Eph 1:3-14). Colossians 3:17 captures the idea exactly:

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Is your life characterized by “an attitude of gratitude”? Do you want to know if you are filled with the Spirit? Test yourself and see if you pass the thanksgiving test.

The fourth test is the mutual submission test (v.21). Verse 21 shifts back to “one another” and is probably the most difficult test. It calls for submission to one another. Normally, the verb “being subject” refers to the attitude a subordinate has toward a superior (e.g., Rom 13:1-7). Here, though, Paul says that we are to have that attitude toward one another, regardless of status or role. He advocates the same attitude in Philippians 2:3-4:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

How do you relate to your brothers and sisters—as a superior or as a subordinate? Do you want to know if you are filled with the Spirit? Test yourself and see if you pass the mutual submission test.

Being filled with the Spirit means that Christ’s character and power are clearly evident in your life. In Ephesians 5:18-21, Paul focuses on four tests of character: edification, worship, thanksgiving, and mutual submission. Do you pass them?

Written by Dr. John Harvey, Dean of CIU's Seminary & School of Ministry

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Understanding the Ministries of the Holy Spirit


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“Filled with the Spirit,” “baptized by the Spirit,” “anointed with the Spirit”—is there a difference? If so, what is it? There’s a tendency to use these phrases, and others, interchangeably. Since the Holy Spirit plays a central role in the life of the believer, it’s important to understand as precisely as possible the various aspects of that role. The best starting point is an overview of the ministries of the Spirit. Those ministries may be divided by the subjects toward whom they are directed: the non-believer and the believer. The ministries to the believer may be further divided into those which relate to salvation and those which relate to sanctification.

The ministry of the Spirit to the non-believer is set out in John 16:8-11. Verse 8 explains what the Spirit’s work is: He convicts. The word translated “convict” means to “present something to view as a summons to change.” In the NT the change that is desired is repentance (cf. John 3:20; 8:46; Eph 5:11). Verses 9-11 explain what presented—sin, righteousness, and judgment—and the reasons the Spirit’s convicting work is necessary. Because the world did not accept Jesus’ witness, the Spirit convicts concerning sin. Because Jesus is no longer present to do so, the Spirit convicts concerning righteousness. Because the world has chosen to follow Satan, the Spirit convicts concerning judgment.

There are six ministries of the Spirit to the believer in salvation: regeneration, baptism, adoption, sealing, indwelling, and anointing. Each is a one-time ministry.

In regeneration (John 3:3-7; Tit 3:5) the Spirit implants new life in the Christian.

In baptism (Matt 3:11; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 1 Cor 12:13) the Spirit incorporates the Christian into Christ’s body.

In adoption (Rom 8:15, 23; Gal 4:4-6; Eph 1:5) the Spirit incorporates the Christian into God’s family.

In sealing (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13-14; 4:30) the Spirit guarantees the Christian’s final redemption.

In indwelling (Rom 8:9-11; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; 1 John 3:24; 4:13) the Spirit provides the Christian with resources for holy living.

In anointing (Acts 10:38; 2 Cor 1:21; 1 John 2:20, 27) the Spirit sets the Christian apart and empowers him/her for service.

There are three ministries of the Spirit to the believer in sanctification: filling, teaching, and leading. Each is a continuing ministry, and the next three posts will explore them.

Written by Dr. John Harvey, Dean of CIU's Seminary & School of Ministry

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A Promise Kept


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J. Robertson McQuilkin served as the third president of CIU from 1968 to 1990, when he resigned to care for his wife Muriel, who needed full-time attention due to Alzheimer’s.

When McQuilkin had to decide whether to care for his ailing wife full-time or to continue serving as president of CIU, he said it was a no-brainer. The decision had been made 42 years prior when he promised “in sickness and in health…till death do us part.”

More than just “a matter of integrity,” it was the only “fair thing” to do. “[Muriel] sacrificed for me for forty years to make my life possible,” said McQuilkin in his resignation speech in 1990. “So if I cared for her for forty years, I would still be in debt.  However, there is much more. It’s not that I have to; it’s that I get to…It’s a great honor to care for such a wonderful person.”

More than just a touching love story (although it certainly is that as well), McQuilkin’s commitment to his wife is an example of integrity which, several years later, continues to stand in contrast with a culture that doesn’t value the importance of keeping promises.

Written by Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

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This is Amazing Grace- Phil Wickham


For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16

You're invited to CIU's Open House


Meet Andrea. She is a Psychology major at CIU and is pursuing her dream of becoming a counselor.

Andrea’s favorite thing about CIU is the genuine Christian community. The professors, staff and classmates have challenged her academically and have encouraged her passion to Know Christ and to Make Him Known.

Join us for Open House on January 30 or February 20 and experience first-hand how CIU can help you pursue your dreams.


Register for CIU Open House


The Key to Mercy



I recently read the following quote by John Piper – “The key to mercy: be more amazed that you’re forgiven than that you’re wronged.”

Piper’s statement caused a flood of verses to fill my mind.  To name a few – blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him (Psalm 32:2); He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities (Psalm 103:10); while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8); God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions (Ephesians 2:4-5).

The hardest part about being merciful is withholding what I believe another person deserves – but that’s the essence of mercy, and that, in Christ is what I have received.

In my interactions with others, I don’t want to make the mistake of the unmerciful servant, who, having been forgiven an enormous debt by his master, refused to excuse a small debt owed to him by his servant (Matthew 18:21-35).

Focusing on the mind-blowing enormity of the forgiveness Christ has extended to me shifts my focus from the one who wronged me to the One I have wronged repeatedly.  His response to me has been abundant pardon.

That’s amazing.

Written by Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

Learn more about CIU!


David Platt on New Year's Resolutions


If we are not careful, resolutions will drive us to depend more on ourselves than on God.

Ministry Encouragement


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“If you don’t learn to minister for an audience of One, you’re probably not going to last very long in ministry.”

“Serve, and even when you get to the point of seeing no fruit, still long to serve faithfully because your Master has called you to it and He is worthy.”

If I’m being honest, I must admit that I often fall into the trap of believing ministry is all about performance – what we accomplish, how much change takes place, and who notices it all.  Ministry becomes a destructive, self-centered cycle of trying to prove myself, trying to be well-liked, and trying to do something great (and clearly, at this point, true ministry has ceased to exist).

The above quotes were shared by CIU’s own Dr. Cooper in her Bible for Teachers class.  Reflecting on her words has encouraged me in three particular areas:

  • We minister to God by ministering to others – it’s first of all for Him.  This frees me from depending on the approval of others – they’re not my target audience.

  • The goal of ministry isn’t fruitfulness, it’s faithfulness.  This frees me from depending on measurable, external results to be successful.  Scripture makes it clear that if any fruit is ever produced at all, it’s because God did it, not me.

  • Ministry isn’t based on who I am, but on who God is.  This frees me from seeking to prove myself to others – the key issue is God’s worth and call on my life, not my talents or abilities.

The process of growth is life-long; I’ll never master all these things in this lifetime.  But I am thankful for the truth and the ability to remind myself of it time and time again.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever!  Amen.  (Romans 11:36)

Written by Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

Learn more about CIU!


Breath of Heaven


Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Even though Christmas Day has passed, take some time today to reflect on the gift of Jesus and breathe in Heaven.
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