By Zac Poonen
I saw a cartoon once of the disciples waiting in the upper room to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:12-14). (We know now that they waited for ten days, but at that time, none of them knew how long they would have to wait.) One of them walks out of the door on the ninth day, saying that he is tired of waiting and is going home. He tells the others that they can wait if they want. Imagine his disappointment, when he heard the next day that all the others in the upper room were baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire and endowed with power from on high. How close he had been to the answer. If only he had waited one more day.....
Jesus invited only those who THIRST to come to Him (John 7:37-39). Only those who seek God WITH ALL THEIR HEART find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). God rewards only those who DILIGENTLY seek Him (Heb.11:6 - KJV). Why is this so? Because it is only when we seek God WHOLEHEARTEDLY that we prove that our relationship with Him is the MOST IMPORTANT thing to us in the world.
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LIVE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE AS WE SHOULD, WITHOUT BEING FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SERVE THE LORD AS WE SHOULD, WITHOUT BEING FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Even Jesus Himself needed to be anointed with the Holy Spirit, before He went out into His ministry (Luke 3:21-23).
The Lord told His disciples to WAIT until they "were clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). While the world lay dying in need of hearing the gospel, those apostles needed to wait until they were baptized in the Holy Spirit before they could go out and serve the Lord (Acts 1:8).
What about us??
How foolish we are to think that we don't need this too!!
On the day of Pentecost, Peter told the people that God was offering TWO gifts to all who would repent, believe and be baptized - FORGIVENESS OF SINS and THE HOLY SPIRIT (Read Acts 2:38).
Forgiveness of sins qualifies us for heaven.
The baptism in the Spirit fits us for life on earth.
If you are only interested in going to heaven when you die, you don't need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. You only need to have your sins forgiven. But if you want to spend your earthly days usefully, showing your gratitude to the Lord for dying for you, by serving Him, then you MUST be filled with the Holy Spirit.
There are FIVE main reasons why many believers are NOT baptized in the Holy Spirit:
(1) They have been INTELLECTUALLY CONVINCED by some theological argument that they were baptized in the Spirit when they were born again. And even though they are defeated, powerless, empty and fruitless, they continue to believe this theological deception.
(2) They feel that they are NOT WORTHY ENOUGH to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The fact of the matter is that the more unworthy you feel and the greater the sinner you consider yourself to be, the more fit you are to receive the Holy Spirit - because God's gifts are given only to those who feel themselves most unworthy to receive them. If you have repented of your sins, it doesn't matter how unworthy or unfit or useless you are. Hallelujah!
(3) They DON'T BELIEVE that God is a good God - who gives His gifts freely to all who ask Him. They feel that they have to pay a price - do some good deeds, like fasting and praying, before they can receive. But God's gifts are all freely given - whether it be the forgiveness of sins or the baptism in the Spirit. None of God's gifts can be purchased. Many believers feel that to have faith itself is a difficult thing. But Jesus likened faith to drinking (See John 7:37,38, "...DRINK.... BELIEVE"). To receive the Holy Spirit is as easy as drinking. Even babies know how to drink - and those who are newly born again can be baptized with the Holy Spirit. That is how it was in the early days - as we read in the "Acts of the Apostles".
(4) They DON'T THIRST. They are not desperate enough. Jesus spoke a parable of a man who kept on knocking at his neighbour's door, UNTIL HE RECEIVED what he wanted. Then Jesus went on to say that our Heavenly Father would also give the Holy Spirit to those who asked, sought and knocked like that man (Read Luke 11:13 in the context of the previous verses, beginning at v.5).
(5) They WAIT FOR SOME EXPERIENCE (tongues or thrills etc., ) similar to the one they heard someone else testify to. They are not willing to leave it to God to decide what gift or manifestation is best for them to have. The Holy Spirit is received by simple faith. Ask and ye shall receive (Gal.3:2; Luke 11:9-13). Don't wait for feelings. But ask God to give you an assurance. Leave it to Him as to how He gives you that assurance. Didn't He give you an assurance that your sins are forgiven and that you are His child? In the same way, He can also assure you that He has filled you with the Holy Spirit. What you need is not an experience, but POWER (Acts 1:8).
SO: THIRST - BELIEVE - AND RECEIVE. Now is the accepted time. Today is the day of salvation.
"The Spirit of the Lord WILL come upon you and you shall be CHANGED INTO ANOTHER MAN" (1 Sam.10:6).