(Acts 2:38) “Repent and be baptised, everyone of you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
If we want to know God’s power in our Christian life and service for the Lord Jesus Christ then there are a number of conditions we need to fulfil to receive this blessing. In fact there are 6 steps that we can take to secure this blessing from the Lord.
The first step is found in the word “Repent.”
The word “repent” itself literally means, “To change your mind.” To repent means to change your way of thinking about God, Christ, sin and the Bible. It means to change your attitude from a Christ hating, Christ rejecting way of life to a Christ loving, Christ accepting way of life. This is the first step towards the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. It means to change your mind about Jesus Christ and to recognize Him as your personal Saviour and Lord. There must also be a change of your mind about sin. It means to change from a sin loving, sin indulging way of life to a sin hating, sin rejecting way of life. If we do not confess all and every sin specifically then God’s power will be hindered from flowing through us to others. To “confess” our sins is to agree with what God says about our sin and to make no excuses but own up to it before Him with openness and honesty. He knows all about it anyway and He knows that when we confess it and renounce it is when we get rid of it.
Now the thing that hinders God’s power may be small and insignificant in itself but never the less a hindrance. It may be some wrong attitude towards someone else or some possession that we are hanging on to. May be it’s something that we know we should give up but we don’t want to. Maybe it’s some habit that no one else knows about but it hinders our full commitment to the Lord. If we earnestly and wholeheartedly desire the power of the Holy Spirit then we need to spend time alone with God and ask the Holy Spirit to show us anything at all in our lives that displeases him.
David prayed this way when he said “Search me O God and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts; and see if there be any evil way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). David also said, “Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part you shall make me to know wisdom” (Psalm 51:6). Now to do this properly we need to wait quietly before the Lord until the Holy Spirit brings the offending thing to our minds and then we must be willing to put it away. If after waiting nothing comes to light then we can proceed to the other steps.
The second step is found in the words “Be baptised.”
It was immediately after His baptism that the Holy Spirit fell upon Jesus. Baptism is a step of obedience to Christ. Jesus himself said to his disciples “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Mathew 28:19-20). He also said, “He that believes and is baptised will be saved” (Mark 16:16). While baptism in itself does not save us it is a step of obedience that God expects us to take. It is the outward sign of the inward change. It demonstrates to everyone including Satan that we have been transferred from the kingdom of the world into the kingdom of God.
Just as the Red Sea cut off the Israelites from Egypt and Pharaoh, so baptism cuts us off from the Egypt of this world and the god of this world the devil. The Baptism Peter speaks about here is believers baptism that follows repentance towards God and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ. Now there are believers who have never been baptised for one reason or another who have never received the Spirit’s power because they have not taken this step of obedience to Jesus command. We always need to keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is only given to those who obey Christ. This leads us to the next step.
The third step is found in the word “Obedience.”
(Acts 5:32) “We are witnesses to these things and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
Obedience doesn’t mean doing some of the things or most of the things God asks us to do but consists in doing all that God asks us to do. Obedience means there must be a total surrender of our wills to God, in fact, a surrender of our whole lives to Him. This surrender is a moment by moment attitude of our hearts towards the Lord especially the surrender of our wills. In the Old Testament the fire of God only fell when the whole sacrifice was laid on the altar with no part held back. (Leviticus 9:24)
Many earnestly desire the Baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire and pray for it and seek it but don’t receive it because they have not laid down their wills. Others want the baptism with the Holy Spirit to do something they want to do or to have a certain gift. Others hold back because they are scared of God’s will. They think that he will make them do the very thing they hate to do. This isn’t true. God’s will is always good, acceptable and perfect once our wills are laid down. It will be good, acceptable and perfect to us as well as to God. (Romans 12:1-2)
The scriptures confirm this; “No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly”(Psalm 84:11)… “He fulfils the desires of those who fear Him” (Psalm 145: 19)... “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). As we learn to delight ourselves in the Lord the Holy Spirit will so change us inwardly that we will end up desiring the very same thing that God desires for us. Doing God’s will isn’t always easy because the Holy Spirit will apply the work of the cross to our lives. Derek Prince said, “The cross is that place in our lives where God’s will and our wills cross.” In the end God’s will always proves to be the best and sweetest thing in the entire world once we have completely yielded ourselves up to the Spirit’s control.
The fourth step is found in the word “Desire.”
(Luke 11:13) “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”
The “asking” in this verse implies “an intense desire.” It implies a deep thirst that needs to be quenched at any price. Are we desperate to know God in a deeper dimension as well as His power regardless of the cost? The context of this verse is seen in the preceding verses. (Vs. 9-10) Literal translated in the Greek it reads like this “Ask, and keep on asking, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock, and keep on knocking, and it shall be opened unto you; for everyone who is asking does receive; and he who is seeking does find; and to him who is knocking it shall be opened.” If we are thirsty for God’s power and the living water that only Jesus can give, then He will fill us to overflowing with the Spirit’s power. Nothing is surer than that! God wants us to be fully satisfied forever and we can be by asking Him to fill us up with his power. Jesus is the one who can do this. (John 7:37-39)
The Lord Jesus has now been glorified and has made His Spirit available to us without measure and everyone who believes in Christ has a right to receive His power for witnessing, ministry and service. Our desire of course, must be for His honour and glory and not our own. The Baptism with the Holy Spirit isn’t just given for our enjoyment although there will be joy. It is given to enable us to say and to do what God wants us to say and to do for Him. When we ask for the Spirit’s power our motives must be right! Many ask God to baptise them with His Spirit but receive nothing because they are asking with a wrong motive. Our desire must spring out of the realization that Jesus Christ and God His Father and our ministry and service for them are being dishonoured as long as we are not baptised with the Holy Spirit.
Many ministers, full-time workers and missionaries are not willing to admit that there is a lack of spiritual power in their ministries. Those who stubbornly refuse the Baptism with the Holy Spirit or for one reason or another shy clear of it will only be dry cisterns, which have no living water. They may be preaching the Word of God and be quite orthodox in doctrine and practice but their ministry will be one of death and not life. Our desire to receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit must be intense but also spring from right motives.
The fifth step is found in the word “Ask.”
(Luke 11:13) “How much more will you Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”
The “asking” here is not only an intense desire but is “a definite asking for a definite blessing.” When we have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our own personal Saviour and Lord, when sin has been confessed and put away and when our will is totally and unreservedly laid down then comes the simple step of asking God for a definite blessing. The Holy Spirit’s power is always given through prayer or as a result of prayer. This happened at Jesus Baptism as he was praying. (Luke 3:21-22) This happened to the 120 on the Day of Pentecost after they had been praying. (Acts 1:14) The believers were refilled with the Holy Spirit after praying. (Acts 4:31) The Samaritans received the Spirit through prayer. (Acts 8:15-17) The Gentiles, specifically Cornelius, had been praying before he was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 10) The Apostle Paul had been praying before he was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9:11, 17-18) Some times the Spirit falls upon believers according to His sovereignty but at other times He comes through the laying on of hands.
The sixth step is found in the word “Believe.”
(Mark 11:24) “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.”
Many don’t receive because they don’t believe. A Gift is something that must be received and although it is available to us it doesn’t become ours until we reach out and take it. This thought is implied in the word “receive” used in Acts chapter two by Peter on the Day of Pentecost. “Repent and be baptised everyone of you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The word “receive” literally means, “to take” i.e. “to take by faith that which is already ours.” It means to reach out and take what God has already given. There is no need to wait as they did for the day of Pentecost because the Spirit has been given and made available to us. He is here right now and has made Himself totally available to us but are we totally available to Him?
Will we let Him do with us whatever he wants to do? Will we let him use us anywhere, anyhow, anyway or at anytime He chooses to use us? If we have met all of God’s conditions then we can ask Jesus to baptise us with the Holy Spirit. According to (Mark 11:24) it is already ours when we ask. When we know that something is God’s will for us to have then it is ours if we have met His conditions. (1 John 3:22) (1 John 5:14-15) We receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit in the same way we ask Christ to come into our lives to save us. The way we do it is simply by asking and believing that we receive as we ask. Now the results will be different in everyone receiving the Baptism with the Holy Spirit because we are individuals and have different personalities. Some will feel a great emotional release and even cry while others will feel virtually nothing at all. If the Lord’s conditions have been met then the assurance we need will come and there will be a new boldness and confidence in our witnessing and service for the Lord.
As we become involved in the ongoing life of the local church our gifts will be revealed and recognized by others. Some will have gifts that are apparent immediately but others won’t. The only church in which they won’t recognize your gifts is a church that is not open to the ministry and the gifts of the Spirit or who are in a carnal and backslidden state or just plain spiritually ignorant. If your church falls into one of these three categories then you had better change churches. It has been said, “you can’t put a live chick under a dead hen!” In this whole matter we are to take God at His word, not wait until “we feel this” or “manifest that.” Remember that the Holy Spirit will give us those gifts that are His will to give us. (1 Corinthians 12:11) So then, the steps to receiving the Baptism with the Holy Spirit are to Repent, be baptised, obey, desire, ask and believe. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24).