It's One of Its Kind & One All of Us Should Crave
|Imagine you were crazy about Michael Jackson, the greatest
entertainer thats ever lived. How would you react if you happened to be given two
first-class tickets to his concert? Also imagine that you were in love with the prettiest
woman in the world and both of you were avid fans of Michael Jacksons. If you could
take your sweetheart and get the best seat in the house, wouldnt you be overjoyed? I
know I would, provided that I was that crazy about Michael Jackson and my girl. Id
be over the moon.
Now, imagine that God desires the best for you and one of His best gifts to you is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within you. His Spirit gives you joy beyond measure, gives you love, peace; gives you power.
If you are a born-again Christian then I believe youd want to grab this gift, have this amazing experience without hesitation. Id go for it straight away.
Unlike the first scenario above, the second case doesnt carry an "if" clause. Thats why its not in the conditional tense. How come then that a lot of Christians are hostile to receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit? A lot of well-meaning Christian people reject the best gift there is. Why? Many say its not for today, just like they deny the miracles that God performs even in our time.
Its very baffling indeed. In fact, if God doesnt perform miracles anymore then their claim of being born again is fake, vain and void, since being born again is a definite work of God, not mans work.
Bona fide, genuine Christians are people whose life patterns and philosophy have changed [2 Corinthians 5:17]. Again, this is not the work of man. Its the Lords.
So if God makes people new creation today, just like He did 2000 years ago, it goes without saying that the baptism of the Holy Spirit must be as real to Christians today as it was to Peter and the upper room people 2000 years ago.
Like salvation itself, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for our good. There are many sick people in our world today. In spite of the advances we have made in the realms of Science and Technology, people will always be sick. Sick people go to doctors for healing. Who do you imagine is the greatest benefactor when a patient gets cured of a troubling ailment: is it the doctor, the patient or the patients relatives? Its the patient, of course. In the same light, the Holy Spirit is for our own good. The Lord is happy when we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, but guess who is the happiest person: you, the recipient. Read what the Bible says in Galatians 5:22. Wouldnt you just love to overflow with peace, joy, hope and love? If your mind is pure, if you have joy, peace and love, you can overcome everything and anything. Youll hate no one. Youll be at peace with yourself, with others and with the Lord. This is a form of perfection and it even leads to good health. This is what youll get when you are filled with the Holy Spirit.
Another portion of the Bible, Mark 16:17-20, tells us of the signs that would follow those who are filled with the Holy Spirit. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you get individual benefits, such as described in Galatians 5:22, but in fact, theres more. Youll also have a passion to do the Lords work, to witness for Him and see others get saved, get healed and delivered from oppression and bondage. In other words, you desire to fulfill the great commission and to bring about both spiritual and physical healing to the world.
When you become born-again [saved], God gives you a measure of the Holy Spirit. Thats why you are filled with joy, peace and love, and thats also why you want to tell your friends and family about your new experience and you want them to know the Lord as well. The disciples also went out and preached the Gospel when the Lord was with them in the flesh. But to live a victorious and abundant Christian life, you and I need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We need to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire, just like it happened to Peter and the other disciples in Acts 2.
Before the Lord went back to Heaven He clearly instructed His followers to wait in Jerusalem and pray earnestly [Acts 1:4,8] for the Comforter to come. It was He who said Hed send the Holy Spirit to them when He was no longer with them in the flesh [John 14:16-17, 15:26], and how many of us know that the Lord always keeps His promises, 32000 of which are scattered across the Bible.
A lot of these disciples, if not all of them, had been with the Lord in person and seen what a great man He was. They trusted Him and believed that if He promised anything, He would do it. So they heeded His promise, followed His instructions to stay in Jerusalem and pray and then BOOM! It happened [Acts 2]. Immediately that happened, Peter and co. became radically changed. From then on, not only did they have the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22] but they also had the power to do what the Lord said they would [Mark 16:17-20]. Note that even the Lord Himself began His ministry only after the Holy Spirit had descended upon Him [Mark: ]. After that experience, He had the power the overcome the immense temptations from the devil in the wilderness and when He began to preach, He spoke with authority and performed unfathomable miracles, and we read in Mark ... that the people were amazed.
Remember that not so long prior to the Pentecost experience, Peter had cowered in front of a little girl. He denied the Lord three times, as He warned him he would. Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit Peter was simply a coward.
The Holy Spirit sets us free, liberates us and makes us vessels for liberation. In Acts 2, we see Peter boldly proclaiming the Gospel to thousands of people and 3000 of those people being saved in one day. How did he do it? How could he do it? He had the anointing of the Holy Spirit remember he just got baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire and you and I know how difficult it is to control a wild fire!
What sets Churches apart today? Some Churches are just Sunday social clubs where good-meaning folks meet and hobnob. They profess faith in the Lord, which is a wonderful thing but they deny the whole counsel of God, they deny that God can heal today; they deny that the Lord Jesus still sends the Holy Spirit today as He promised two millennia ago. These Churches are like the people Paul talks about in 2 Timothy 3:5. They have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. I believe these people are saved but they are just missing out on the fun of being Spirit-filled Christians. I believe they are saved because our salvation does not depend on the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit or even on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Our salvation depends on our faith in the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul emphasizes that in his epistle to the Romans and other letters.
The question is, why would you rather be: in a Church thats experiencing the full joy of being a Christian or in one that just plays church and is dry? If I were you, I would choose the Church thats overflowing with the Holy Spirit and is a witness to the manifestations of Galatians 5:22 and Mark 16:17-20.
The differences are obvious. Go to a Church whose pastor is full of Gods Spirit; meet someone who overflows with Gods Spirit and youll see that they have abundant love in their hearts. A Spirit-filled pastor preaches Spirit-filled, liberating sermons. The congregation can sense the power of the Holy Spirit from the words that come out His mouth. In that kind of Church people love to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth and they are not too concerned with time. Gods Word and the time they spend at His feet mean more to them than material food. Such a Church enjoys to quieten themselves before the Lord and simply bathe His presence and bask in His love. They love to commune with Him. They adore prayer.
In spite of the innumerable blessings of the Spirit, some people still turn a deaf ear to the promise. The following are some of the reasons I believe that is so:
So many people are lazy. Just look around, a lot of people in the world consider themselves just as ordinary people. They think they are not that important, they cant make a difference. They leave the big decisions to others.
The same spirit is carried over in the spiritual realm. Some people are happy just the way they are: ordinary Christians. They think the gifts of the Spirit and the power are for others, for big evangelists, preachers and not for them.
That attitude is wrong. The Lord told His disciples, not just His remaining 11 Apostles to remain in Jerusalem and pray. We read in Acts 2 that there were 120 people in that upper room and the Spirit came upon all of them. If we deny the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then we are denying the power of God to work through us: in a sense, we dont want to tell sinners about Jesus and we dont want to pray for the sick to get well. Some may even go as far as seeing speaking in tongues as foolishness. That borders on blasphemy.
In order for the Holy Spirit to fall on us, we must first give up our will and surrender to the lordship of Jesus. Sin shall have no dominion over us for sin blocks Gods blessings. It goes without saying therefore that we will not receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit unless we repent of our sins and are willing to go all the way with the Lord. Peter and his companions gave up self and were willing to die for the sake of the cross. Thats why 120 of them were crammed into that tiny upper room.
A lot of people are not willing to give up self because they are afraid of the unknown. They are afraid that God would make them do things that appear foolish in the eyes of carnal men; Hed cause them to undertake a different career path, which would lead to forfeiture such as the abandonment of their dreams to embrace the call. Thats a big hindrance, and a common one, I suppose.
The Bible says that for lack of knowledge the people perished. Some Christians attend dead or lukewarm Churches, Churches where preachers dont believe in miracles or the baptism of the Holy Spirit. How would they ever know that that baptism and miracles are as real today as they were 2000 years ago? Such Christians may have burning problems but the pastor and other Church members are too busy, too concerned with time and therefore do not spend time waiting on the Lord with the hurting brother/sister. Isaiah 40:41 says that those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength and they mount up [fly] with wings like an eagle. How many of us know how powerful an eagle is. The Lord will come to those who seek Him. Waiting on the Lord and being filled with His Spirit brings victory. Yet, we see Churches where prayer has become unimportant. All the pastor and the congregation have time for is five minutes. How many of us know that the Lord is very important and should not be treated like McDonalds or KFC? I have seen patients, especially in big hospitals, wait for hours to see the doctor. How many of us know that the Lord heals, and there are no side effects. Yet, how many of us are willing to spend an hour in prayer for the healing of a brother or sister? How many pastors are committed to that?
We need to go to the Lord in reverence and faith and we need to spend ample time in prayer, in communion with Him. Five minutes is a waste of time.
The Bible is available to us all and we can follow the examples of Jesus and the Apostles. If the pastor doesnt believe in Gods awesome power to heal and the wonderful experience of baptism in the Spirit, either you quit such a Church or pray earnestly for the Lord to move mightily therein.
HOW TO RECEIVE THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
We must have a burning desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Its a wonderful experience. Weve got nothing to lose, but everything to gain. "Ask and you will receive," the Lord Jesus promises.
James tells us that faith without works is dead [James 1:23-25] If a young man desires to get married, he just doesnt sit there and wait for the woman of his dreams to come along. He goes out and looks for her, like Jacob did.
In the same manner, if we are seeking to be filled with the Spirit, we diligently ask the Lord for the awesome experience. It comes through effective fervent prayer, James tells us, and it comes via righteousness.
As I mentioned above, the holy Spirit will not indwell an unholy, unwilling heart. God does not force Himself unto us. Hes given us free will. To receive the fullness of His Spirit, we must have a pure heart, be sanctified. "Blessed are the pure in heart," the Lord commends in Matthew 5:8.
Find time to be alone with the Lord. Go out to a park or field and commune with Him. Hell answer. "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you," says James.
The Bible says that faith comes through the hearing of Gods Word. We all know the power of experience. As we say in English, Experience is the Best Teacher, if you are at a crossroads, if you want to go on a journey, an expedition, and especially if you dont know what to do, ask those who have been there. For example, if I go back to England, America or Cameroon and someone wants to know about Taiwan who better to ask than me? Ive lived in Taiwan for seven years. I speak the language [Chinese] and understand the culture and business ethics.
Dont pay attention to naysayers, to those who deny the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There will always be people who say "Its impossible." If you want the experience read the testimonies of those who have had it and speak to them, if you can.
How would you feel if someone told you there was US$1,000,000 hidden on a little treasure island and all you have to do is look for the case containing it. If you find it, its all yours.
They didnt say itd be easy to find the case. All they said was that the treasure was hidden there and thats for sure. Now, would you give up just after one hour of trying or would you keep looking until you find it, even if that means doing so for over ten hours? Just curious: how many hours do you work a day? How much do you make? A lot of us will work our whole lifetime and not be able to earn or save US$1,000,000 within the whole period. Wouldnt it wise, then, if you just stayed longer, cut every shrub and dug up every bit of soil just to trace the case where the fortune is hidden? Imagine what youd do with that huge amount of money if you happened to be that lucky. Id quit my job, get married, build a beautiful mansion for my wife and myself, start my own fine communications business, give some money to charity and some to the Church. Im sure youd do the same.
Why do a lot of people not spend one hour, two hours seeking one of the best and lasting experiences on earth?
How would you know youve been baptized with the Holy Spirit? Our Lord is a God of evidence. When He saved you He gave you a new heart, a new attitude, a new you [2 Corinthians 5:17]. The Bible tells us why our father sent His Son: because He loves us [John 3:16]. How did He demonstrate His love to Adam and Eve? He gave them the Garden of Eden. So, how would you know youve been baptized with the Holy Spirit? Hell give you a new tongue, a wonderful spiritual language which you will never lose and which youd really enjoy using to commune with Him.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is real and great. Dont let anyone tell you its not for today. Seek the Lord with all your heart and ask Him to bless you with this awesome experience and you can be sure your life will never be dull again. You will have power over Satan and you can use this new spiritual language to enjoy praying and communing with our Heavenly Father, whos a Spirit.
May He baptize you as you seek Him.
Taiwan June 25, 1999