God’s Gift To All
Perhaps you have never received this beautiful gift of the Holy Spirit. Or, you may know someone who desires to be Spirit-filled. These instructions apply to every believer since it is God’s will that we first be filled and then teach others how to receive this glorious promise. First, forget your preconceived ideas that have failed to produce positive results. Then let’s learn a few simple rules from God’s Word.
This first step is so vital; nothing else in the process of receiving salvation can be accomplished without it. Peter wrote,
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9).
Why is God so insistent upon repentance? Why wouldn’t He merely instruct all to be Spirit-filled? The reason is that God underscores the necessity for genuine repentance! Repentance is turning away from the sinful way we used to live. Realizing how our wrongdoing has grieved the heart of God, we firmly decide to “turn around inside.” The old life fades forever as we confess each offensive act. We want Jesus to be the new Lord of our life. And remember that “Lord” means “boss!”Let the tears flow if you wish. Tears reflect the depth of sorrow for personal sins that nailed Jesus to the cross. Ask to be forgiven even for those wrongs that cannot be remembered.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
Continue repenting until you feel a deep assurance within that God has forgiven you. Search your heart and soul. Bare your life before Him. The moment that you fully repent, that moment He fully forgives. When repentance is complete an God has forgiven, you will feel a tremendous sense of relief like a great load has lifted.Now you’re on speaking terms with God. Asking to be forgiven creates no personal merit, but merely clears the way further demonstrate how fully surrendered we are to do anything God wants.
Be Baptized in the Name of the Jesus Christ
In the New Testament, water baptism was an act of faith that proved whether a person had thoroughly repented. It was public testimony that one had asked forgiveness for past sins and was committing himself thereafter to obey Jesus.In the waters of baptism, the old sins and transgression against God’s Law are buried. And someone else goes into the baptismal tank with the minister and the believer. JesusHimself is there to cut away the sinful nature as He “circumcises” the heart. This act of faith initiates entrance into the Kingdom of God.When our sins are “buried with Him in baptism,” we also assume the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ (which prepares for the next step of salvation). We have now demonstrated that we accept His death as our death. It is time to emerge from the waters of baptism to “walk in newness of life,” even as Christ was resurrected from the grave.
God is not choosy about our position when He baptizes us with the Holy Spirit. At the initial outpouring on the Day of Pentecost,
“…a rushing mighty wind… filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2: 1).
At the home of Cornelius, the Holy Ghost “fell on all the which heard the word.” Undoubtedly, they were sitting while Peter preached. Kneeling in an uncomfortable position is not a pre-requisite for receiving the Spirit. Cramped legs a tired arms and backs are not really necessary. Choose a suitable, comfortable position. While repenting, a kneeling position may be the most desirable. But when it’s time for the Holy Spirit to come, choose a more relaxed position.Some have been awakened in the night by God’s presence and been baptized with the Spirit in the privacy of their bedroom. Others have felt the overwhelming power of God while washing dishes, riding in an automobile, or while listening to the radio.We have already learned that the Spirit especially enjoys baptizing believers in homes–the upper room and Cornelius’ home. But wherever you are, God is ready to fill you.
Faith to Believe for God’s Gift
Here you must understand that God has a very special and wonderful Gift for you. Although mankind could never be worthy or deserve this special honor, Jesus wants to give eternal life.
“By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourself: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We believe on the Lord Jesus Christ by submerging ourselves into the very death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through repentance, baptism in Jesus Name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost.
“He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but be that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they speak with new tongues” (Mark 16:16-17).
True faith is always demonstrated by obedience. Those who carefully obey instructions can be assured of receiving the Spirit. Peter emphasized the importance of obedience in his statement to the Jewish Council:
“And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:32).
Perhaps you would like to picture in your mind Jesus facing you with outstretched Hands. Keep this mental image as you proceed closer toward Him in faith and praise.This Gift is not forcibly pried from the Hands of a reluctant God. Neither are you trying to earn the Holy Ghost by your determination. As a loving parent would extend a promise gift in his hand, Jesus offers this Gift of His Spirit; joyfully reach out to Him with praise and gratitude. The Holy Spirit God Himself, is at this moment waiting for you to move toward Him in faith.
Make Contact with God
This new relationship you seek is a close, spiritual contact where you very definitely feel His presence. An unmistakable warmth will touch your heart. Possibly you will find tears streaming down your cheeks as you speak loving words of gratitude for His forgiveness.To be filled with the Spirit, one first comes in contact with the Spirit. Although He has already drawn you to Himself, to be objective in faith you must now locate Him.
“Seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us” (Acts 17.27).
Paul described this contact as “feeling after God.” Most conversations include an exchange of casual talk that sets the participants at ease before discussing their business. As we feel after God, we approach Him something like this:
“Jesus, I just want to thank You for Your blessings to me. I’m not worthy, but You have done so many good things for me. Thank You for sacrificing Yourself for my sins. Thank You for the love You have shown to me and for inviting me to come to You. If I lived a million years, I could never repay You for the love I am feeling right now. I appreciate Your forgiveness and the precious gift You promised me. My faith and trust are in You alone. All I have, I give to You. Take my life and use it in any way that You choose…”
This is a model prayer to help you draw near to God. An approach like this will always touch the heart of God when it is prayed in the right attitude. And when He finds someone who expresses genuine gratitude and faith, He always responds! That response often begins with tears.When the love of God is “shed abroad in your heart” by the Holy Ghost, God’s Spirit thoroughly submerges your spirit. The “baptism” of the Holy Ghost is God plunging a person’s inner self into the ocean of His own life-giving love. It’s the most intimate and personal experience imaginable. And, it results from the deep expressions of heart-felt trust and appreciation that are unashamedly offered to the Lord. This is making contact with God. Receiving the Holy Ghost is a most warm and personal experience based on confidence and trustful expectancy. Such a spiritual experience is achieved only by a strong contact with the Spirit. It is fulfilled only when the seeker becomes strongly involved emotionally.
Let the Spirit Submerge You
As you are made spiritually aware that you have God’s attention, just continue talking with Him in the same warm, affectionate way. Leave the realm of human thought and understanding and cross over into the Spirit’s dimension.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
Human reasoning is filled with pride and self-exaltation. To forsake that realm means you totally forfeit all rights and humbly accept God’s will-no matter how ridiculous it may seem. Forget the accepted human behavior standards (if they are contrary to God’s intent for you). All the pious worship that you have been taught as proper conduct for adults must be abandoned if it conflicts with the worship of believers in the Book of Acts.Before the Spirit can submerge, you must renounce your own opinions and accept God’s promises as the only reliable source of information. Trust in Him 100 per cent!Then, let your attitude revert to that of a little child. Jesus said,
“…Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2).
As a little child freely believes and obeys, so we begin the spiritual transformation. We feel ourselves sinking down, down, down into the ocean of God’s love. Often the lips begin to tremble, tears stream down the cheeks, the voice tones may intensify to a higher pitch, and the hands are extended a child might reach for the strong arms of his father.In explaining the baptism of the Spirit, Jesus said,
“…If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7.37-38).
“Drinking” of the Spirit is a natural reaction when we are being filled. But remember: no one can drink with his mouth closed. The Lord said,
“…Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10).
God cannot fill a closed mouth. Some seekers fail to receive the Spirit’s fullness simply by closing their mouths. This is what you have been waiting for all your life! Your spirit was made to be united with His Spirit; to be reborn-cleanse, changed, remade!For some, the birth process may be slower than others. But it should occur momentarily, just as in Acts, chapters 2 or 10.
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word” (Acts 10:44).
Yield Your Tongue to The Spirit’s Control
Surrendering oneself to the Spirit is not completely easy. It demands a total commitment to God. He cannot baptize an unwilling individual with His Spirit. Sometimes a single word of praise leads the seeker away from the realm of human understanding to the realm of the Spirit. The praise becomes unintelligible as the Holy Spirit exchanges the believer’s own language for the heavenly type.The tongue is described by James as an unruly, untamable member of the body, full of deadly poison. When God completely controls the untamable portion and uses it to form and speak a language unknown to the speaker, it’s a sure sign the person has been completely submerged and filled with the Spirit. Speaking with tongues was the only evidence required by the early Church for acknowledging the infilling of the Spirit. However, we never seek the “sign” of receiving the Spirit, but the Spirit Himself. Speaking in tongues is the result of being filled with God’s energizing Presence. The old language is surrendered, as well as the old life. As a newborn child of God, one of your first feats is learning to talk! Speaking the Father’s language for the first time may resemble the babblings of a baby. Although it may sound garbled, God interprets these first simple words as love and confidence directed toward Him, our heavenly Father.So happy and joyous are spiritual newborn infants, you may be oblivious to how you sound, how you look, or what you say. Since you are privately visiting with the King of kings, nothing supersedes its importance! Perhaps initially the sounds are unintelligible. But soon they will be fully articulated as the Spirit completely fills and gives you the language He wants spoken.During this process, reach up in faith, believing that this is the Holy Spirit submerging and filling you. Through faith, deliberately abandon your own language. Though you are not yet speaking in an actual language, when an absolute fullness is reached, the heavenly language will be there. However, do not try to repeat one word of praise in a sing-song fashion without any faith or emotional involvement. It is futile to blurt out unknown words without the prompting of the Spirit. These practices could grieve the Spirit of God.This is a free gift, never to be snatched away or retrieved. How we handle and preserve it is up to us. This is the blessed promise of the Father!
“…With The Laying On Of Hands”
Of five passages in the Book of Acts describing people receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit, three times the experience was ministered to the seeker by other believers. How? Through the “laying on of hands.” The new converts in Samaria, Saul of Tarsus, and the twelve disciples at Ephesus were all filled with the Spirit by this procedure. On the Day of Pentecost and at Cornelius’ home, the experience was received directly, without the laying on of hands.What is this “laying on of hands?” It is the act of one person placing his hands, usually on the head of another person, for a spiritual purpose, accompanied by prayer.The practice of laying hands on another person is neither strange nor foreign to normal human behavior. In many parts of the world, friends customarily greet one another by placing a hand upon each other shoulder as an acknowledgment renewed friendship.If her child complains of a pain or fever, the mother instinctively places her hand on his forehead to soothe the child. So the practice of laying on of hands within the sphere of religion is an adaptation of a basic human action.As a religious act, it means that the person laying his hand on another is transmitting a spiritual blessing or authority. Or, he could be publicly committing a person to God for so special task or ministry.Laying on of hands is taught by Jesus in the New Testament. Among the signs following belief in the Gospel was,
“In my name…they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18)
But this power and authority was not the exclusive right the apostles. Ananias, who laid hands upon Saul of Tarsus for both his healing and receiving the Spirit, was designated merely “a certain disciple.” He held no special office in the Church. Yet through Divine guidance, he laid hands upon the man destined to become the great apostle of the Gentiles!Mortal men cannot heal the sick, nor can they baptize converts with the Holy Ghost. But by the power of Jesus Name, God’s Spirit can work through the hands of believers to accomplish these miracles.
What To Expect — What Not To Expect
EXPECT to receive the Holy Ghost quickly. After the outpouring at Pentecost, no Biblical instance is given of anyone “tarrying” or experiencing delay in receiving the Spirit. Yet, there are people who have sought Spirit-filling for years! If the Holy Spirit is a gift, why haven’t they received it?Here are some reasons for this delay:
- A lack of thorough repentance. Forget about receiving the Spirit until you are willing to renounce all known sin. Confessing and forsaking sin is the only way to prosper. If you can forgive, or should you harbor in your heart bitterness jealousy, confess and forsake it.
- Doubt and unbelief. God is insulted when we doubt His Word. How do you feel when someone distrusts your character or discredits your truthfulness? God responds the same. He is deeply grieved by our doubts. And He simply refuses to fill us until we approach on His terms.
A person who feels self-pity when leaving the altar empty-hearted should imagine what God thinks. So often He has stood with outstretched arms while that individual knocked on Heaven’s door, but refused to come to terms.
- Unable to accept the Spirit. Satan is responsible for scaring many people away from spiritual blessings. He causes them to envision an overwhelming Spirit, too difficult to cope with or receive. The enemy may slyly suggest that God is not the source of these strange utterances. In this way, Satan attempts to frighten one away from the reality of the Spirit. Or, the Devil may convince a seeker that the Spirit is definitely for him-but at some future time.
EXPECT to hear advice from well-meaning friends (which may not be so helpful). Altar workers may not sense the spiritual whereabouts of the seeker. A Spirit-filled person should be alert to the direction of the Spirit and readily determine a seeker’s spiritual progress.Some altar workers speak the first thing that comes to their minds, which may be insignificant for the seeker. “Hold on!” — to what? “Give up!” — what? “Be determined you’re going to receive it!” — determined to receive a gift? Suggesting this “determination” implies that we must twist God’s arm to release His Gift. But the Holy Ghost is not a reward for determined effort. God is like a loving Parent who wishes to give something very special to a beloved child.
DO NOT EXPECT to receive the Holy Ghost in a preconceived way. Some folks imagine they will fall to the floor or weep, shout, laugh, run, or dance when the Spirit comes. But the only real initial proof of the infilling is speaking with other tongues. You may or may not display any of these other emotions, but you can expect to speak with other tongues!If you react to happy surprises with a spontaneous, emotional outburst, expect that type reaction when rejoicing over the Holy Spirit. Some are reluctant to receive the Spirit for fear they might react in an embarrassing way. But when the Spirit is in control, the outward demonstration will always be decent and in order.
DO NOT EXPECT the Holy Spirit to be your dictator. He never forces or compels a believer to perform contrary to his own will or choice. The gracious Spirit would never impose or barge into any life as an unwelcome guest.Neither will He bring anything but liberty and freedom!
“For ye have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear…” (Romans 8:15).”Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty” (11 Corinthians 3:17).
To the degree a believer voluntarily yields himself to the Spirit, to that degree will the Spirit control and direct him But He will never force anyone against his own will.
DO NOT EXPECT the Spirit to exercise full control of you whole being after receiving the baptism. He must have you response and full cooperation. Daily you must continue to yield every area of your personality. The same amount of faith, prayer, and consecration required to receive the Spirit is necessary to retain the fullness of the Spirit.
DO NOT EXPECT the Holy Ghost to be the conclusion of your Christian experience. It’s only the beginning! It is only the gateway allowing entry to a brand new way of life. Your responsibility will be to explore the wonderful potentialities of this new life.When the Israelites finally reached the Promised Land there was much to be claimed. Giants and much new territory were waiting to be conquered.Don’t sit down with folded hands and sigh, “Well, I’ve finally made it! Now I can sit back and relax until Jesus comes.” Those who assume this attitude are a disappointment and a stumbling-block both to themselves and other believers.
EXPECT to encounter additional spiritual conflict. The new power received from the Spirit is meant to be put to action. Any increase of God’s power produces increased opposition from Satan.You will discover that embarking in the spiritual realm positively exposes new forms of Satanic attack and oppression. Strange, unexplained moods of fear or depression may attack your mind. Moral and spiritual temptations, never before experienced, will taunt you. Unless you are forewarned and prepared to defend yourself against such demonic attacks, you could be overcome by the enemy and sink lower spiritually than before receiving your spiritual rebirth.Jesus’ first major encounter with Satan followed His baptism in the Jordan when the Holy Ghost descended upon Him. From then on, He met Satan’s onslaughts head-on repeatedly. This new Spirit baptism empowers you for this very purpose. Spiritual weapons withheld before baptism in the Spirit are readily available to every born-again child of God.We challenge you to take that first step by faith towards God. You can expect Jesus Christ to freely give what His Word has promised.