Designed for a Purpose
Many of us have been watching with great interest as a new Apostolic Faith World Headquarters office building has been under construction. Several years ago, we hired an architect to begin designing that building. His design was based on a description of our staff needs and city building code requirements, as well as modern design standards. Once the plans were approved, we hired a builder to execute the construction of the edifice. He has been working diligently and, Lord willing, soon we will have a dedication service for the new office.
Of course, once the building is ready, we hope to move into it and use it. It will be a nice, new facility designed to meet our operational needs of today and for years to come; it would be unthinkable to not use that building. Imagine if we were to construct it, look at it, and talk about how good it is, but not use it! Or even to partially use it—to move in but never connect the electricity—would be absurd. We want to do just the opposite; we want to use all of the new building, as it was designed to be used, so that it will be productive for God’s work.
Redemption is for the whosoever will, but it is the role of the Holy Spirit to help us realize our need and to obtain the promises that have been made available to us through Christ in God’s plan.
The project of the new office building is in some ways comparable to God’s plan of redemption. Knowing that mankind would fall into sin, God had a plan of redemption to restore what was lost in the fall. God is the Architect, or the Designer, of the plan. Christ is the Executor of God’s plan because His death and resurrection made it a reality. Finally, the Holy Spirit (who is also called the Holy Ghost) applies the plan to individual lives—He puts it into use. Redemption is for the whosoever will, but it is the role of the Holy Spirit to help us realize our need and to obtain the promises that have been made available to us through Christ in God’s plan.
Just as it would be a shame to let a perfectly good office building go unused, so it would be a travesty to not possess and use all that God has designed for us. We need to take advantage of every part of God’s plan in order to be effective and productive in His service. To help us get there, we will look at the role of the Holy Spirit in God’s plan for our lives, with special attention to receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Ghost: Our Guide
The Holy Ghost helps us in many ways, and His main role is guiding us in spiritual matters. John 16:13 says, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak.” The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth—that means He leads us along in God’s plan. Beginning with the initial conviction for sins and continuing to the moment we cross over into eternity, it is the Holy Ghost who guides us to where God would have us to be, to a place where we can obtain all that God has designed for us.
Here are a few ways the Holy Ghost operates in our lives:
Convicting of sin. John 16:8 speaks of the Holy Spirit saying, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” This is a description of Holy Ghost conviction—the initial contact between the Holy Spirit and an individual when He causes that person to realize he or she is a guilty sinner before God. Holy Ghost conviction is not a good feeling. Sometimes the recipient of it does not even know what he or she is experiencing, which is how it was for me. Before I was saved, I did not know anything about this verse from John 16, but I experienced Holy Ghost conviction and understood clearly that God wanted something from me.
Acts 2:37 describes a crowd’s reaction to a sermon given by Peter: “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart.” The phrase “pricked in their heart” is another reference to Holy Ghost conviction. This is what we hope for and expect in a good Gospel meeting—that the Holy Ghost will convict those who are not right with God, letting them know that they need to make a change in their lives.
Bearing witness with our spirits. When a person is born again, it is the Holy Spirit who gives a personal confirmation that the work of salvation is done. Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” The day I was saved, I did not know this verse either. Yet, when I finally dropped to my knees, told God I was sorry for my sins, and asked Jesus to come into my heart, I did not have to wonder if it had happened. I knew the transaction had taken place because His Spirit bore witness with my spirit. There was no doubt about it! We do not have to wonder if we are saved because God’s plan included this confirmation from the Holy Ghost.
Revealing the need for sanctification. After our sins have been forgiven and we are saved, we need to seek God for a second application of Christ’s Blood to eradicate our sin nature. This is called entire sanctification, and it is what will enable us to live a life that is holy and pleasing to God. Again, it is the Spirit of God who will reveal our need to be sanctified, perhaps even convicting us to seek for that experience, and He will also witness with our spirits when that second work is done. First Corinthians 6:11 says, “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Thus, we see how the Spirit is the One who initiates our relationship with God through conviction, who witnesses to us when we are saved, who reveals the need for sanctification, and who witnesses to us when we are sanctified. All of this is Him working in our hearts to lead us into what God has designed for us—the place where the purified heart can be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
A few weeks ago, an employee came to me with a document from the State of Oregon requesting that he fill out some paperwork in order to receive unclaimed funds. He was unsure about whether or not he should respond. I recognized the documents because years ago when I worked at a bank, we were required to send the Oregon State Land Board an annual report of dormant accounts and unclaimed safety deposit boxes. I encouraged the employee to supply the required identification, answer the questions, and send in the acknowledgement form. He did that, and later let me know that he had received funds for some uncashed State refund checks from years ago.
This is how it is with the infilling of the Holy Spirit; the experience is available to all of us, but there are conditions which must be met in order to receive it.
Think about that—there were funds available for him, but if he had ignored the letter or decided not to comply with the requirements, he would not have received them. This is how it is with the infilling of the Holy Spirit; the experience is available to all of us, but there are conditions which must be met in order to receive it.
In Luke 24:49 we find Jesus’ command to His disciples to wait for the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit: “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” We do not know all the details of what occurred from the time the disciples received this command until the moment they were filled with the Holy Spirit, but we do know they did as they were instructed and they received the promise. They met the conditions that were required, and those conditions are the same ones we must meet today in order to receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Thus, we can use the disciples’ actions as a model.
Be saved. To begin with, we know that those who were gathered in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost were saved because in John 17 Jesus prayed for them saying, “Those that thou gavest me I have kept” (verse 12). When we are saved, we are in the Lord’s hands, and we want to stay there. This prayer from the Lord lets us know that His disciples were “kept”—they were still saved.
Be sanctified. That same prayer from Jesus highlights the need to be entirely sanctified. In John 17:15-19 Jesus prayed for His disciples to be sanctified, and then stated in verse 22, “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” When we look at the account of the Day of Pentecost, we read in Acts 1:14 and Acts 2:1 that the disciples were “in one accord.” This is evidence of the unity for which Jesus had prayed to His Father; His prayer had been answered and they had been sanctified. We also must be sanctified before we can receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
Seek God in prayer. After Jesus ascended, we read in Luke 24:52-53 that the disciples “returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.” To receive the Holy Spirit, we have to seek God’s face in prayer. I have never seen anyone receive the baptism who was not in prayer. Matthew 7:7 tells us to ask, seek, and knock, and those are present-tense imperatives, meaning that we need to ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, and to knock and keep knocking. We must prevail in prayer, like Jacob who would not let go of the angel until he had received the blessing. We must have that same type of determination in prayer.
Obey God’s instructions. It has been said that obedience is a key that unlocks the blessings of God. The Holy Spirit prompts us to do God’s will in our walks with the Lord; it may be a prompting to make restitution, to change our plans, or to consecrate to God something dear to us. When we feel that prompting, it takes obedience on our part to receive the blessing God has for us. Hebrews 10:35-36 encourages us to “cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” When we have obeyed and “done the will of God,” then we have the confidence that when we ask, we will receive.
The disciples were told to tarry in Jerusalem. That was the specific instruction they were given, and they were rewarded for obeying. However, the specific instruction to tarry is not required of everyone. My great-grandmother received an Apostolic Faith paper in Illinois in 1916. In it she read about salvation, and she prayed right then and God saved her. She continued reading and learned about entire sanctification, so she got down again and prayed, and God entirely sanctified her. She went on reading that paper and it told her about the baptism of the Holy Spirit; she got down again, and God baptized her, all in one evening! Tarrying is good, but it is not a requirement to receive the Holy Spirit. Obeying whatever God has instructed us specifically to do is a requirement.
Exercise faith. It took faith to get saved—when we confessed our sins and then asked Jesus into our hearts, we had to believe that He would do it. In a similar way, it also took faith to be sanctified, and it will take faith to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
If we need a boost of faith, may we remember that our church has more than one hundred years of testimonies of individuals for whom God has fulfilled the promise of the Holy Ghost! I received my baptism in the campground tabernacle, and I have watched many others receive it too. More than once, I have seen the Spirit of God fall so powerfully that we could not even hold service! The disciples did not have these types of testimonies; they just had instructions and a promise from God. They believed He would honor His Word when they met His conditions, and He did. We also need to simply believe that God is going to do what He said He would do.
Receive the witness. When we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we are endued, or filled, with power from on high. Acts 2:4 says, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The Spirit bears witness in our hearts that the work is done, and God also bears witness to those around by speaking through us in a language that we never learned. James 3:8 says, “The tongue can no man tame,” yet when God baptizes us, He overrides our own physical body systems and speaks through us. The disciples did not have to figure out how to speak in tongues; they did not even know it was going to happen until it did happen. We also do not have to worry about how to speak in tongues. It will come naturally when God baptizes us because we have yielded control to Him.
Develop a spiritual hunger. The disciples did not know how long they would have to tarry to receive the promise of the Holy Ghost, and yet the account does not make it sound like tarrying was an arduous task for them. Luke 24:52-53 says they “returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.”
At several camp meetings, I have had the privilege to work on the restaurant breakfast line. I have noticed that when the food line is temporarily out of a particular item, if people come along who are hungry for that item, they will tarry for it. They will wait until it is replenished from the kitchen. Likewise, if we get good and hungry for God, and we really want that blessing, we will be willing to tarry. We won’t be thinking, How much time do I have to spend to get this? No, if we have a hunger, we will tarry as long as it takes.
Trust God enough to let go. Recently, I was reminded of how my daughter learned to walk, back in the summer of 1993. She started by walking around while holding onto my finger; she would not walk if she did not have my finger to hold. At that same time, I was seeking for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. After a camp meeting youth service on July 9, I went home and was feeling discouraged. I thought, I’ve done all God wants me to do, so why isn’t He filling me? As my daughter was trying to walk and hold onto my finger, I started trying to take my finger away so she would walk on her own. Just then the Holy Spirit impressed upon me, “John, you are doing the same thing. You have to let go and trust that I’m going to be here.” I learned that if we want to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we must trust Him. Trust that He is going to answer that prayer, and He will do it!
The Gospel is designed to go forward through the power of the Holy Spirit. After the account of the Day of Pentecost in Acts 1-2, the rest of the Book of Acts catalogs what the Apostles were able to do with the power of the Holy Ghost working through them. Thousands were saved and many miracles were performed! That is the way God designed it, and that is still His plan for us today—we are meant to enjoy victory in the Gospel, and to bear a powerful testimony to the world. The Holy Ghost will guide us into all truth and to receive all that God has planned for us.