What is the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

And it shall come to pass afterward, That I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh… (Joel 2:28 KJV)

Since the outpouring of the Spirit is such a pivotal truth in the operations of the Spirit in the New Testament, it behooves us to have a practical comprehension of what it means for God to pour out His Spirit. This devotional reviews the outpouring as the giving of the Spirit. An implied secondary sense of outpouring as the outflow of the Spirit from within us is “waters gushing out of our belly,” which we will not discuss here. 

The verb “pour out” is figurative. Since the Bible is replete with figurative language, which is sometimes subtle, it is paramount for us to recognize and fully appreciate symbolic language in the scriptures. “To pour out,” whether in English or the original Hebrew, is typically used for the act of pouring out liquid, especially water or oil, from a container. In Gen. 28:18, Jacob poured oil on the stone altar at Bethel. Think of what happens when you pour water out of a container. It connotes the idea of movement, flow, and abundance. 

The Holy Spirit is often described as water or rivers in scripture. Let’s picture the Father having a  large container in heaven full of His heavenly river, and us here on earth with our hearts as empty containers ready to receive. Imagine what happens when the Father bends that heavenly vessel and pours out lavishly from His container into ours. Therefore  scripture uses the figurative verb “pour out” to describe God giving us His Spirit, as water is poured into a vessel, 

But the outpouring of the Spirit is only one facet of the process, just as giving is only one side of the entire process. Giving must be accompanied by receiving, and outpouring is accompanied by infilling or filling. When God gives or pours out His Spirit upon us, we receive or become filled—God pours, and we are filled!

Furthermore, the giving of the Spirit is grace upon grace, one level of blessing upon another. In fact, Ezekiel described it as the river which increases slowly from our ankles, knees, and waist until it covers us! ( Ezekiel 47:4). I have written several devotionals on the different dimensions of the Holy Spirit’s operations in us. First, we receive His Person at salvation. So God pours out the Spirit at salvation. Then, there is the baptism of the Spirit, a different experience from conversion, which is principally an outpouring of power and presence that overwhelms our hearts and lives. Then there is the ongoing infilling that continues every day, as often as we bring our vessels for Him to fill. These phases of infilling are distinct but intimately related. Therefore God can pour out( give)  His Spirit upon us, and we receive( become filled)  with just joy, peace, love, patience, and the rest of the fruits of the Spirit( Acts 13:52).

When God pours out the Spirit, we receive or are filled, and the results are manifested. First, when God poured out His Spirit, we become children of God, with the Spirit of His Son in our hearts crying Abba, Father. He then poured out His Spirit again, and His children became baptized with power, often manifested in the gifts of the Spirit such as tongues, prophecy, and miracles but also boldness. Then He continues to pour out, filling us each day which results in Christ-like character and the fruit of the Spirit. The typical Pentecostal or charismatic almost always thinks the outpouring of the Spirit would mean people “falling under the power,” speaking in tongues, manifesting the gifts of the Spirit, etc. Yes, this aspect is only one facet. As mentioned above, God can pour out His Spirit, and the only manifestation will be a fruit of the Spirit, such as joy. Think about God pouring out His Spirit and parents becoming more patient with their children( patience the fruit of the Spirit), or husbands becoming more faithful! It is crucial for us to fully understand ALL the facets of the operation of the Holy Spirit so we can better cooperate with Him. 

God is pouring His Spirit upon His Church, and this outpouring is increasing daily. Some have questioned the idea that God will pour out His Spirit, stating that God already poured out His Spirit at Pentecost for the entire Church and the new birth( or “baptism of the Spirit”) for the individual believer. The significant error of this idea is that it fails to recognize the subtle differences in the outpouring or infilling of the Spirit. The infilling of the Spirit is not a one-time event but occurs in distinct but related processes.

What is the literal and figurative meaning of “pour out”?

May the Lord pour out of His Spirit to bring the lost to salvation, His children to a greater experience of His power and wisdom, and produce a visible manifestation of the characteristics of the Spirit in their characters, such as love and joy!

Would you ask the Father for an increased outpouring of His Spirit these days and all its dimensions? 

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  1. This message is very thought out and appreciated. I am often confused about being filled with the spirit. I have really felt his presence in the past, however, as of late I have not. I am drawing nigh to God and claim his promise to draw nigh to me. Our church preached against speaking in tongues but since listening to Derek Princes sermons have a new outlook on it.

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