The disciples had already been saved before the day or Pentecost.
“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20
The resurrected Christ had breathed on them imparting the Holy Spirit into them, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” The words translated “receive ye” mean words spoken by one in authority, a command that is obeyed immediately.
“So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:21-22
They had already utterly renounced any idea of living for themselves and devoted their lives to the reaching of the world. The Lord Jesus had commissioned them to “make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) But they still lacked the promised power to fulfill their task! The Lord’s last promise to them was “You shall receive POWER after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you . . . and you shall be witnesses unto Me.” (Acts 1:8) They were told to wait until they were endued with power “from on high” before commencing their work. (Luke 24:29) They had met the Lord; they knew Him as Savior; but they did not have the power of the Holy Spirit to do His work. Just as the disciples needed the additional infilling of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Holy Spirit, so we have the same need today.
Even a cursory reading of revival history is convincing. Among all God’s servants that have deeply affected their generations there is a harmony of deeper experience with Him. Terms used to describe this power have been as different as their denominations, conversion experiences and education; but the experience itself has always been essentially the same. As there is practical agreement among evangelical Christians with regard to the way of salvation, so there is a practical agreement among those who believe in a deeper Christian experience than conversion. In a court of law, testimonials are rejected if all those testifying give the same evidence in the exact same words and manner; it would prove there had been collusion among the witnesses. But if each witness uses his own words and way of presentation, yet their testimony agrees in essential facts, the evidence is convincing. And the evidence of history is this; no man or woman has ever been used of God until they had first discovered the secret of power with God.
Christians have called this experience by many different names. Men like D.L. Moody, R.A. Torry, C.G. Finney, William Booth, Andrew Murray, George Witfield, A.B. Simpson and others have called it “the baptism of the Holy Spirit;” others, like G. Cambell Morgan, Robert Murray McCheynes, Praying Hyde and C.H. Spurgeon have preferred “the filling with the Holy Spirit.” Some have called it “empowering” others “the anointing of God;” but the question is not “Can you name it?” but – “Do you HAVE it?”
Billy Graham, in his message “How to be Filled with the Spirit” Put it this way:
“The very fact that we believe one thing and some of us another does not do away with the fact that GOD says – ‘Be filled with the Spirit.’ I believe that is the greatest need of the church of Jesus Christ today. Everywhere I go, I find God’s people lack something; God’s people are hungry for something. Many of us say that our Christian experience is not all that we expected. We have oft-recurring defeat in our lives, and as a result across the country from coast to coast there are hundreds of Christian people hungry for something we do not have . . . I am persuaded that our desperate need tonight is not a new organization, a new movement – or even a new method. We have enough of these. I believe the greatest need tonight is that men and women who profess the Name of Jesus Christ be filled with the Spirit! We are trying to do the work of God without supernatural power. It cannot be done! When God told us to go and preach the Gospel to ‘every creature’ and to evangelize the world, He provided supernatural power for us. That power is given to us by the Holy Spirit. It is more powerful than atomic power . . . It is more potent than any explosive made by man. Do you know anything of the power of the Holy Spirit?” (Greater L.A. Crusade, 1949)
This enduement of power is NOT the receiving of the Holy Spirit in salvation. When a man is truly born again his conversion is dependent on and effected by the Holy Spirit in response to his repentance and committal to Christ. (John 3:5-6, 7:37-39, 14:16-17, 20:21-22, Romans 5:5, 8:9-16, I Corinthians 2:10-12, 3:16, 6:19, 12:3, II Corinthians 1:21-22, 5:5, 6:16, Galatians 3:2, 4:6, 5:25, Ephesians 1:13-14, 2 Timothy 1:14, I John 2:27, 3:24, 4:13) But this conversion To Christ is not to be confused with a consecration to the great work of world evangelism and the enduement of power to carry out this task.
RA. Torrey, world-renowned evangelist and Bible teacher of the last century, explained it this way: “The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite experience of which one may and ought to know whether he has received it or not . . . the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an operation of the Holy Spirit distinct from, subsequent and additional to His regenerating work. In regeneration there is an impartation of life, and the one who received it is saved; in the baptism of the Holy Spirit there is an impartation of power and the one who received it is fitted for service.” (What the Bible Teaches)
The word “baptism” used by Torrey here is a symbolic term in scripture that signifies (1) complete exposure and cleansing from all sin and (2) an overwhelming sense of God’s presence and power to energize for Christian service. By following the example of the Lord Jesus in water baptism, many Christians understand this symbol in the first sense but have never known it experimentally in the second sense – a clothing of energy for Christian service. Without this sense of covering, surrounding and energizing of the Holy Spirit, Christian work and witness is fruitless, joyless and practically impossible.
In CONVERSION, the soul is drawn by the Holy Spirit, God’s own agency of salvation. (Proverbs 1:23, John 16:7-11) The Bible reveals that the Holy Spirit, Himself God, is a Divine Person Who carries out the executive work of the Godhead. (Matthew 28:19, Isaiah 11:2, John 14:26, 15:26, Acts 8:29 & 39, 10:19, 13:2, 15:28, 16:7, Romans 8:9, I Corinthians 12:11, 2 Corinthians 13:14) This conversion experience is a personal transaction between the soul and the Lord Jesus relating to its own salvation. To accomplish this, the Holy Spirit first convicts of sin, then points the convicted sinner to Jesus, magnifying Him and making His sacrificial death real to the penitent. (Gen. 6:3, Psalm 51:12-13, Mic. 3:8, Zech 12:10, John 16:8-11, Acts 2:37) In salvation, the soul yields up its doubts, rebellion, self-righteousness and its pride; it accepts Christ as Lord and Savior, trusts Him and supremely loves Him. The sinner’s pride is humbled; his selfish purpose of life is finished; he is cleansed and all his guilty past is forgiven. The Holy Spirit enters his life there to abide in settled union and baptizes him into the Body of Christ, the Church.
The Purpose of Power
The 120 gathered expectantly in the Upper room on the day of Pentecost knew what they were waiting for. This energizing experience was to be an overwhelming sense of God’s Presence. It was to mean even more to them in terms of intimate, loving communion with God than the physical Presence of Jesus had meant on earth. When Jesus was here on earth physically He had been WITH them; now by this anointing of the Holy Spirit He would not only be back with them, but also welling up inside them and all around them! They were to be utterly flooded in the sense of His closeness and power. They had already been given one “power” – that of legal right or authority, to become the sons of God (John 1:12). Now they were to have “dunamis” (Greek for power, strength, might, energy, explosive enabling power) – to act, think and LIVE like their Lord with the outpouring energy of Heaven! (Luke 24:49, Romans 15:13, I Corinthians 2:4, I Thessalonians 1:5)
In this empowering, the soul is introduced BY the Lord Jesus TO the Holy Spirit. The role of Christ and the Spirit are thus reversed from that of salvation. The Holy Spirit has introduced the soul to Christ; now Christ makes the indwelling Presence of His Spirit real to the believer. The climax of this energizing process is the flooding up of God’s reality in the soul like a fountain, until the believer is utterly immersed in His power and love. Once initially understood and experienced, this is to be the continuous experience of each believer – deeper and deeper baptisms or fillings with the Holy Spirit as we look to Him in faith for delivering and transforming power. (Acts 2:4, 4:8 & 31, 6:3, 7:55, 90:17, 11:24, 13:9, 13:52, Ephesians 3:18, 5:18, I John 1:4)
SYMBOLS and emblems of the Holy Spirit used in Scripture describe the results of a Spirit-filled life. WATER is an emblem; (Exodus 17:6, John 7:38-39) it cleanses, fertilizes and refreshes; it is abundant and freely given. So the Holy Spirit cleanses, brings life, revives and refreshes the soul – He too, was fully and freely given when the risen Christ was glorified. FIRE is an emblem. (Acts 2:3, Luke 3:16) Fire purifies, illumines and searches. The Holy Spirit accomplishes what we cannot do ourselves. He searches our hearts, reveals our sins and purifies us. The WIND is a third emblem. (John 3:8, Acts 2:2) it is independent, felt in its effect, powerful and reviving. God the Holy Spirit is independent in His operation – He is not controlled by anyone! He moves with power, His presence is felt and how He revives the work of Christ when He comes to the drooping members of the church! The DOVE (John 1:32) teaches us the work of the Sprit in making us gentle, innocent and loving; the VOICE of the Spirit is in His teaching, guiding and warning ministry. The SEAL is His work to impress, secure and make us Christ’s own.
The Holy Spirit is the gift of the Risen Christ. His anointing filling, empowering work is a baptism of love that gives power to make Jesus real to you and known to others. The most impressive evidence of this power is the ability to make the things of God real; a man filled with the Spirit of God becomes deeply, intensely believable. The Holy Spirit works to impress the heart and seal the preached word of God with conviction. When an empowered man speaks or prays, his words strike fire. His words stick in the heart like darts of love. Now, how is it with you, beloved? Have you obeyed God’s command to be filled with the Spirit? His gift is offered to every child of God who is willing to simply meet these conditions:
HONESTY – Do you really WANT God’s power? God will not give His gifts for self glory (to make you a “great” man or woman or to “build up your church” etc.) He will not grant His power so that selfish pride may be exalted. (Acts 8:18-24, James 4:3) He does not empower to free from trouble, to make you happy or even to make you holy, although of course these often follow a Spirit filled life. He fills only for His glory, and that must be your motive.
CLEANLINESS – Are you in dead earnest to be used of God? William booth, founder of the Salvation Army and man of God said: “Before we go on our knees to receive the baptism of fire, let me beg of you to see to it that your souls are in harmony with the will and the purpose of the Holy Spirit. See to it that the channel of communication by which the Holy Spirit must be received is kept open. It is no use praying, singing, or even believing if there still is some sin you are holding or even refusing to give up. Out with it; give it not rest; give it up. Destroy your idols and stoppages with an everlasting destruction. Let there be free communication between you and God. Let all go and you shall be flooded before you rise from your knees . . . the world shall feel the power of it, and God shall have all the glory.” (Salvation Soldiery)
The GIFT of the Holy Spirit is neither earned nor deserved. The gift of the power of the Holy Spirit cannot be bought or sold. (Acts 8:9-22) Simon the sorcerer tried to buy the power to impart the gift of the Holy Spirit. He was wanting to buy a ministry. You cannot buy your way into a ministry! It is a call and gift from God. He is not given on the basis of “special attainment”: in holiness with God. The gift of the Holy Spirit is primarily for POWER; a man who receives this empowering has no more Christian character immediately after his experience than he had before. The fullness of the Spirit is a SOURCE of help to BUILD a Christian character, and is certainly not given BECAUSE of a high degree of consecration to Christ. Therefore, He is to be invited to energize only on basis of the clear promises of God, and with the condition that all obvious sin is forsaken. (Galatians 3:2) Scripture shows that God is more than willing to give the Holy Spirit to His children and longs to do so. You do not have to beg and plead with your heavenly Father to obtain this promised power, the very fact that He not only promises but commands us to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) is the highest possible evidence that we can receive it. For God to command is equivalent to a certainty that we can obtain, for He does not command unless we have power to obey. Once the dams of conscious hindrances are swept away, you may not even have to ask God to fill you. In fact, you will probably not be able to keep Him from doing so!
OBEDIENCE – When you have dealt with all obstacles, you must receive by faith from the hand of God. There is nothing to be afraid of in receiving God’s power. The Lord Jesus said: “If you, being evil know how to give GOOD gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him? (Luke 11:13) If you come as a little child in love to your Father, do you think He will give you something to harm or frighten you? (Luke 11:11-12) Don’t you think you can trust God to keep you from excess and extravagance? The Holy Spirit’s power is a LOVE gift for every child of God. You need not be afraid to fully open your life to His love. If there is something you are not willing to have happen, some personal point of pride you hold, or some right you don’t think God need ask you to surrender, be sure that VERY THING will be the reason why you still have no power with God or man. Obedience is better than sacrifice. (I Samuel 15:22)
DON’T LIMIT the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. Unfortunately, so much emphasis has been put on the gift of speaking in tongues, that too many Christians stop seeking the power of the Holy Spirit once they have received this gift. Therefore they never receive the full endowment of the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This is the reason so many so-called “Spirit-filled Christians,” are actually lukewarm Christians. Speaking in tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit, it is NOT the essence of His power. The baptism of the Holy Spirit will bring CHANGE into our lives. We will no longer desire sinful things like we once did. We will hunger and thirst for God’s Word. Our desire and delight will be to read and study and meditate on the scriptures. Our desire will be to know and experience God. We will UNDERSTAND the scriptures as we read them because the Holy Spirit will be teaching us directly. Others will LISTEN to us when we tell them about God because of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Don’t settle for anything less!
Now dare you do it? If you are willing and obedient, God will meet you! Don’t try to copy another experience; get yours from God and you will know it is real. Accept His gift and trust Him NOW for power. Let the sense of His love well up in your heart until it floods and fills you with praise. He may come quietly as a river or mightily like a flood; but you shall know it has happened and you will never be the same again. Go now, as a little child, simply ASK God for power from on high, and let Him make your life a miracle! Don’t seek the power of the Holy Spirit from a man or a ministry, seek it directly from God.