DAY 3: HOW DO YOU RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT?
The risen Christ is free from all fear, and wants you to be so too. He has unlimited authority over the powers of darkness, and wants to impart some of that authority to us all. He wants to give you a mouth that none of his adversaries can successfully resist. The way he does this is by baptizing us in his Spirit. And this power is freely available to all believers until the end of history. It has never, and could never be withdrawn until the task is finally complete. That empowering has been denied, ignored, ridiculed, feared, and neglected.. But is still ours if we want Him, until Jesus returns: “For in him you have been enriched in every way – in all your speaking and in all your knowledge because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.“ (I Cor. 1:5-7) C.H. Spurgeon urges us again, “Only out of a full church shall the world receive salvation, never out of an empty one. The first thing we want as a church is to be filled with the Holy Ghost.”
So how do we personally participate in his energising power? How do we receive the Spirit? Acts 2:37-41 gives us all the clues we need. It is clear here that Peter was offering the gift of the Spirit to people who wanted to be rightly orientated and related towards God. You can’t hold on to sin and take hold of the fullness of the Holy Spirit at the same time! One has to go. Therefore three responses are needed:
1. Confess any known sin – Be convicted of hidden sin and crippling moral strongholds, then renounce them. This is not a plea for perfectionism, simply a summons to ‘Get real!’ God gives the Spirit to the repentant. Peter said later, “We are witnesses of these things and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:32), i.e. people who are determined to please God, without excuses, hesitation, or equivocation, for the rest of their lives. You are not to become morbidly introspective here, but rather respond to what God’s word is showing you, so that you will not grieve the Holy Spirit by deliberately indulging in some vice or unholy activity as if it was not dangerous. Are there well-defined wrongs and clear offences against God that you feel convicted about, or made conscious to you by the Spirit?”, e.g. Occultism, Sexual immorality, Covetousness, Envy, Broken relationships, Unforgiveness, Carnal ambition, Fear? Then repent of them, and let them go from your life in Jesus’ power.
2. Yield yourself to Christ – Saving faith includes submission to the Lordship of Christ. You don’t want to ‘quench the Spirit’, so settle this now by telling him, “I will do whatever you tell me. I will yield to your revealed will for me at every stage, and act on the directions and promptings of the Spirit from now on, as He fills me.” You choose not to ‘resist’ the Spirit or say ‘no’ to God. You want to ‘walk in the Spirit’ now, and not gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal.5:16). So, are you willing to be whatever God wants, willing to go wherever God sends, and willing to do whatever God clearly commands? Then, ‘Be filled with the Spirit’!
3. Come to Christ himself – In our water baptism we signified our new union with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the Baptiser, and the medium into which we are baptized is Christ himself (I Cor. 12:13; Rom. 6:3). But with Baptism in the Spirit, the Baptizer is Christ himself and the medium into which He baptizes us is the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:8). So don’t come to a minister or a friend, or a building, instead come to Christ. But very often, as seen in Acts, someone may lay hands on you to receive the Spirit , and prays to God to do this for you (Acts.9:17; 19:6). But it is always Christ himself who actually gives us His Spirit in fullness, so we can be empowered.
4. ‘Ask for’ and ‘drink of’ his Spirit – Jesus said, “If any man is thirsty let him come unto me and drink” (Jn.7:37). We only ever ask for what we really want. You only drink that which you know you need, and are convinced that it will really do you good. But it is a simple thing to ‘ask’, and ‘drink’, but both are done by faith in God’s promises to his children, e.g. “If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more does your Father in heaven know how to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Lk.11:13).
Sometimes the Lord may delay this until your are more desperate, and less casual! Luke 11:9-12, Jesus says, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? Or for bread, will give him a stone?” And note the encouraging significance of these words:
(1) This gift is for God’s ‘children’. You have to be a Christian to receive the Spirit – it is for God’s children only. If you’re his child, and know Jesus as your Saviour, then you now qualify.
(2) Don’t think in terms of any harm or danger – scorpions, snakes, and stones, God has no intention of giving you, Jesus challenges us to believe. God will not give you something other than what you want, nor less than what you wanted, and certainly not something you don’t want at all! He will not frighten, hurt, or disappoint his children. Instead he give us an ‘egg’, a ‘fish’, and ‘bread’, i.e. everything we need for our spiritual health, and only things that are definitely good for us. So, if you believe, you will receive.
(3) Realize that this is not ‘A’ level Christianity. It is our basic need – ‘the children’s bread’! You cannot live without this. It is the staple ingredient for effective living. This is just part of the beginning for converts. You have not arrived. It is not the terminus. This is just the next gateway to more, the so much more, that still awaits you as you ‘Walk in the Spirit’.
‘Ask and you will receive!’