In this and the three previous posts, we have been considering the following passage of Scripture:
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. (Col 1:9-12)
It is at this point in the process that a person bears fruit, produces a manifestation of their obedience. “Fruit” might be refinement of moral character, as found in Ga.5 or the impact one has upon others as in the fruit of one’s ministry. To this point we have 1) being filled with the knowledge of God’s will (to the capacity one possesses), 2) living according to such knowledge, 3) pleasing God as a result and 4) producing fruit.
Once bearing fruit in obedience to the knowledge and ability one possesses, another very important phase of growth occurs. It is at this point that the bottle cap previously dipped into the ocean becomes a shot glass. Of course, the amount of ocean that filled the bottle cap does not fill the shot glass. Therefore, in order to remain filled, it is necessary to take the shot glass back to the ocean, dip it in and pull it out filled. Our goal, as we grow and expand in capability and capacity, is to continually remain filled. Remaining faithful to this process should result in the shot glass becoming a coffee cup, a bucket, a bathtub, a swimming pool, each time returning to the ocean of God’s greatness to be filled again and again. One might remain filled by never growing and, consequently, becoming stagnant, or we can remain filled as just described.
Increasing in the Knowledge of God
This, in a sense, takes us back to the beginning of an ongoing, ever-cycling process of being, continually filled with increased knowledge of God. If, indeed, God is unsearchable and unfathomable (Ro.11:33), we will never finish this process. We are to gain understanding of God and His will, live according to it in our resolve to please Him, bear fruit and increase in the knowledge of God, on and on into eternity. How sad that some seem to convey the idea that there is a plateau we reach and set up camp, never to venture forward in the process of Christian maturity. I believe this perspective helps us understand what Paul wrote to the Philippians when writing, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained” (Phil.3:12-16).
There is another application of this concept found in Ephesians 5:18 as Paul states, “…do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…” The present, continuous tense of “filled” can be thought of as “be continually being filled.” There seems to have been much debate over the issue of the baptism of the Spirit in certain Christian circles, making a distinction between being filled (at conversion, possibly) and being baptized (as a later unique experience, often said to be accompanied by the evidence of speaking in tongues). First, being filled and being baptized are used in the New Testament text interchangeably (Acts 1:5 & 2:4). Second, we must not limit the experience of being filled / baptized to two specific occurrences with one possible evidence (at conversion and as a launch into “the baptized club,” with tongues). The fact is, we will experience the ongoing filling (of knowledge, wisdom, fruit, the Spirit, etc.) with a variety of manifestations (gifts and fruit). My position is not intended to be a doctrinal argument as much as a caution that we should not limit the growth process with our doctrinal arguments. Be continually being filled!
 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Ga.5:22-23)