Powered by the Holy Spirit
Have you ever wished your efforts for God were more effective? Have you ever felt the need for more boldness or strength or ability to work for God? The Lord has promised the gift of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire to give us the power we need. Acts 1:8 says, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
We do not minimize what God has already done for us. If we have been saved, the Lord has forgiven our sins and started us on a new path. If we have been sanctified, we can testify to God’s cleansing power that removes the nature of sin. We do not overlook the impact of those experiences on our lives, but God desires for us to have power that takes us beyond what we can do in our own strength, even as saved and sanctified believers.
The implications of Acts 1:8
After Jesus had given His disciples the Great Commission, we read that “they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (Mark 16:20). This is what we long for—for the Lord to work with us, empowering us through the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
A person who receives the baptism of the Holy Ghost is immersed, covered, and filled by the Holy Spirit.
The word that is translated baptism means “to be immersed; to be totally covered.” The baptism of the Holy Ghost is a definite experience in which the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost, comes into a holy, sanctified life to give power for God’s service. A person who receives the baptism of the Holy Ghost is immersed, covered, and filled by the Holy Spirit. The evidence of receiving this gift is that the person speaks in a language unknown to him—a real language.
Notice that Jesus did not say “ye shall develop power.” He said, “ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” We can and should work to improve our capabilities and talents. We want to present our best to God, because offering our lives as a living sacrifice is simply our “reasonable service” (see Romans 12:1). However, even our best efforts need His power and blessing.
Consider for a moment the phrase, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” On a map of the region, you would put a dot on Jerusalem, draw a small circle around it to indicate Judaea, a larger circle around that to encompass Samaria, and then a huge circle to take in the “uttermost part of the earth.”
The challenge of witnessing begins in our personal Jerusalem. My wife and I live in Roseburg, Oregon, so our “Jerusalem” is the city of Roseburg. Perhaps a larger circle would indicate witnessing in the State of Oregon, then in the United States of America, and then unto the uttermost part of the earth. Or we might say our Jerusalem is our home, the circle around it our casual associates, the next circle those we encounter on a one-time basis, and finally, the uttermost parts of the earth. The point is that we all begin our witnessing right where we are.
The Day of Pentecost
No doubt what the disciples of Jesus had seen had ignited a longing for the power of God in their hearts. They had heard what He had taught; they had seen the miracles He performed. When He was crucified and resurrected, they realized that was a fulfillment of Scripture. Then, just before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He laid out the next step for His disciples. He let them know he was leaving, but He had one more commandment. We read, “And, being assembled together with them, [Jesus] commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:4-5). These closest companions of Christ on earth had their commission, but first they were to wait in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. And Jesus said this baptism would happen “not many days hence.” God does not intend for us to spend a lifetime seeking. He wants to empower laborers for His Kingdom!
No doubt the cry of their hearts was, “God, fulfill Your promise. Have Your way in us. Make us the instruments You want us to be.
The disciples obeyed Jesus and returned to Jerusalem, where they all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication. While we do not know the exact words they said in those prayers, no doubt the cry of their hearts was, “God, fulfill Your promise. Have Your way in us. Make us the instruments You want us to be. Equip us to do Your will, the work of Christ, in this world.” It was a united prayer; all their hearts uttered it.
We read in Acts 2 that the promise of the Father was fulfilled. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost came upon that group of followers who were tarrying together. The Prophet Joel had prophesied hundreds of years before Christ that God would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh. That day, Peter confirmed that the promise of the Father was for all: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39).
The promise is still good today
The promise that the Spirit would come to “as many as the Lord our God shall call” includes us.
Over the years, the Holy Ghost has been poured out on many saved and sanctified believers. In the early 1900s, the Holy Spirit began to be poured out in our country as hungry hearts searched the Word and began to seek for the Spirit’s infilling. The promise that the Spirit would come to “as many as the Lord our God shall call” includes us. So the question is, has He come to you? Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?
If the power of the Holy Spirit is lacking in our lives, we want God to activate a warning within us. My wife and I have a home security system installed at our house. One afternoon a while back I started hearing a “beep, beep, beep” sound every hour or two. I went to the system indicator and found that the main battery was dying. Because we had plans for the evening, I put off dealing with it. When we came home late that night, I was too tired, so went to bed. About 1:00 a.m., the “beep, beep, beep” began to increase in intensity and frequency. The piercing sound came all the way into our bedroom. It demanded attention!
Recently I came across the testimony of Dwight L. Moody, one of the great preachers in United States history, who related how he was alerted to his need for the power of the Holy Spirit. I will read part of his account:
“I remember two holy women who used to come to my meetings. When I began to preach, I could tell by the expression on their faces that they were praying for me. At the close of the Sunday evening service they would say to me, ‘We have been praying for you.’ I said, ‘Why don’t you pray for the people?’ They answered, ‘You need power.’
“‘I need power?’ I said to myself. ‘Why, I thought I had power.’ I had a large Sunday school and the largest congregation in Chicago. There were some conversions at the time. I was, in a sense, satisfied. But right along these two godly women kept praying for me, and their earnest talk about being anointed for special service set me to thinking.
"...there came a great hunger into my soul. I did not know what it was. I began to pray as I never did before." —Dwight L. Moody
“I asked them to come and talk with me, and we got down on our knees. They poured out their hearts that I might receive the anointing from the Holy Spirit, and there came a great hunger into my soul. I did not know what it was. I began to pray as I never did before. I really felt that I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service. The hunger increased. I was praying all the time that God would fill me with His Holy Spirit.
“Well, one day in the city of New York—oh, what a day! I cannot describe it; I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I asked Him to stay His hand.
“I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths; and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you gave me all Glasgow—it would be as the small dust of the balance. If we are full of the Spirit, anointed, our words will reach the hearts of the people. We need the filling always, and if we are filled with the Spirit, there will be no room for Satan or self. If we are filled with the Spirit and full of power, one day’s work is better than a year’s without.”
We do not have to beg for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. It is a gift!
Like D. L. Moody, we want to recognize our need for the power of God and seek diligently until we receive it. We do not have to beg for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. It is a gift! Remember, Jesus’ promise was, “Ye shall receive power.” God wants to fill us with His Spirit so that we will be able to accomplish His purpose.
The third Person of the Trinity
According to Scripture, the Holy Spirit is not a mysterious force that sneaks up on us and gives us some kind of unexpected jolt. He is a Person, and we know Him already. In John 14:16, Jesus told His followers, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” This Comforter is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. We know Him even before we experience the baptism. It was the Holy Spirit who drew us to Christ—He is the One who convinces of sin and calls people to repentance. When our sins are forgiven, God witnesses through His Spirit that we are children of God. God uses the Holy Spirit to help us sense our need for the deeper things of God.
As we consider the characteristics of the Holy Spirit, we understand better how important He is in our lives. The Spirit of the Lord is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. While our intellect, reasoning, and ability to think are all God-given, the Holy Spirit leads us into true wisdom—the wisdom from above that is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, full of mercy, full of good fruits, and without partiality or hypocrisy (see James 3:17). The Spirit of God helps us pray. Sometimes we feel unable to express our deepest longings; we do not have the words. In those times, the Holy Spirit will intercede for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.
The Spirit of God is the Spirit of might, of power and strength, of vigor, courage, and holy boldness—not confidence in ourselves but in God and Jesus.
The Spirit of God is the Spirit of might, of power and strength, of vigor, courage, and holy boldness—not confidence in ourselves but in God and Jesus. The Spirit of might gives us strength to face dangers or trials, and to speak with clarity and liberty and convincing power.
The Holy Spirit consoles and encourages us. The word Comforter in John 14 signifies not only One who brings solace, but One who is an encourager, defender, advocate, and mediator. He is an instructor and guide. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth, and bring to our remembrance the words that Jesus said. He is also called the Spirit of knowledge, of true knowledge which leads us into all truth.
May God put a longing in our souls for the power of the Holy Spirit, that we might accomplish the work of God on earth. May we pray, “Lord, ignite a fire in my soul for the lost.” Many people are plunging toward a lost eternity, heedless of the danger they are in. They need help! As we consecrate our lives and pray with a desire to be our best for God, the Holy Spirit will descend.