Being filled with the Holy Spirit was the same as being saved.
The New Testament church folk recognized the necessity of being saved, but they never asked the question, “Are you saved?” They would, however, ask, “Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit?” Being filled with the Holy Spirit meant that you were indeed saved.
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ They answered, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ACTS 19:1-2
The arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2), with His obvious power and anointing, totally radicalized the thinking of the early believers. The Apostle Paul led the charge with fresh new teaching that highlighted the fact that the Holy Spirit was all believers needed to live an empowered, righteous life. Being “filled with the Spirit” was the identifying mark of a Christian. Therefore, being filled with the Spirit meant that one was a believer. Paul, much to the ire of the “traditionalists,” taught that one could be a Christian without being Jewish and without being an adherent to Law (Galatians and Romans). It is only through faith in Jesus and having the presence and power of the Holy Spirit that one is saved and enabled to live a righteous life. Grace both saves and empowers us. Radical!
“The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”Romans 5:20-21
The problems with Law
Paul tells us that the Law is good (Rom 7), then tells us that believers are “not under the supervision of the Law.” (Gal 3:25). Is he contradicting himself? If we see the time of Law to be perpetual and eternal we will be forcing a contradiction. However, if we see the time of Law as Paul sees it, as being temporary, there’s no contradiction at all.
Paul sees the Law as having being “added” and having authority “until” Faith (Jesus) came. In other words, the Law ruled for a particular season and was a “baby sitter” for us until Jesus and the Holy Spirit arrived. Let’s have a look at Galatians 3.
“What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.Galatians 3:17-19
What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.”
“Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe…”Galatians 3:21-25
…Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was put in charge of us until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
“Yet even if we do all the particular things God wants and explicitly commands us to do, we might still not be the person God would have us be. It is always true that “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6).Hearing God, Dallas Willard
An obsession merely with doing all God commands may be the very thing that rules out being the kind of person that he calls us to be.”