“Have your received the Holy Spirit?” What would you say in answer to that question and how would you know how to receive Him? For many Christians, the gift of the Spirit is known through ecstatic feelings and experiences. “Being slain in the Spirit”, having the “Gift of Tongues,” etc. is the epitome of the “receiving the Spirit” experience. For others, the idea of the Holy Spirit is a scary concept. They don’t know what to expect and there is the vague idea that the Spirit would put them out of control, kind of like a spiritual hallucinogenic drug. For a third group, receiving the Spirit is the Christian equivalent of finding Frodo’s Ring from the Lord of the Rings. It would make a mere mortal into a spiritual superhero with supernatural powers. So what does the Holy Spirit do, and how do you receive this most mysterious Person of the Godhead? Is it scary? Does it make someone do crazy things? Is it a designed to be like finding Thor’s Hammer?
Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit is what leads us into and reminds us of Truth. (John 14:26; 16:13) This happens through the medium of the Word of God. (John 17:17). Unfortunately, the acceptance of truth is not merely an intellectual process. We have many emotional/psychological biases against it due to the love of sin, our pride and independence. Therefore, the Holy Spirit has to give it an additional “kick” so that we can accept it. (John 16:8-11). I have received the Holy Spirit when I understand, see the import of and incorporate the Truths of God’s Word. This understanding, if received and incorporated, sets me free from the deceptions and bondage of my sin(s).
The sign of receiving the Spirit is the manifestation of the Fruits of the Spirit. The Fruits of the Spirit demonstrate that the Truth has set me free. (John 8:32). The Holy Spirit replaces my spirit.
My spirit demonstrates the fruit of the flesh:
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Rom. 13:14;
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, such as immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, magic arts, animosities, strife, jealousy, bad temper, outbreaks of selfishness, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousings and everything of the kind, of which I warn you as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:19-21, MLB)
Whereas the Holy Spirit demonstrates the Fruits of the Spirit:
But the Spirit’s fruition is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, generosity, fidelity, gentleness, self-control. There is no law against these. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal 5:22-24, MLB)
When I ask for the Holy Spirit, what I am asking for is that God will reveal to me A) my spirit, my problems, my weaknesses, and B) His Truth in His Word to replace it. I want His attitudes, His way of thinking of things rather than my way. I want to change and be changed.
Many people believe that the disciples did not receive the Holy Spirit until the day of Pentecost, when in actuality they were receiving the Holy Spirit all the way to until the day of Pentecost:
In obedience to Christ’s command, they [the disciples] waited in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father–the outpouring of the Spirit. They did not wait in idleness. The record says that they were “continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.” Luke 24:53. They also met together to present their requests to the Father in the name of Jesus. They knew that they had a Representative in heaven, an Advocate at the throne of God. In solemn awe they bowed in prayer, repeating the assurance, “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:23, 24. Higher and still higher they extended the hand of faith, with the mighty argument, “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Romans 8:34.
As the disciples waited for the fulfillment of the promise, they humbled their hearts in true repentance and confessed their unbelief. As they called to remembrance the words that Christ had spoken to them before His death they understood more fully their meaning. Truths which had passed from their memory were again brought to their minds, and these they repeated to one another. They reproached themselves for their misapprehension of the Saviour. Like a procession, scene after scene of His wonderful life passed before them. As they meditated upon His pure, holy life they felt that no toil would be too hard, no sacrifice too great, if only they could bear witness in their lives to the loveliness of Christ’s character. Oh, if they could but have the past three years to live over, they thought, how differently they would act! If they could only see the Master again, how earnestly they would strive to show Him how deeply they loved Him, and how sincerely they sorrowed for having ever grieved Him by a word or an act of unbelief! But they were comforted by the thought that they were forgiven. And they determined that, so far as possible, they would atone for their unbelief by bravely confessing Him before the world.
The disciples prayed with intense earnestness for a fitness to meet men and in their daily intercourse to speak words that would lead sinners to Christ. Putting away all differences, all desire for the supremacy, they came close together in Christian fellowship. They drew nearer and nearer to God, and as they did this they realized what a privilege had been theirs in being permitted to associate so closely with Christ. Sadness filled their hearts as they thought of how many times they had grieved Him by their slowness of comprehension, their failure to understand the lessons that, for their good, He was trying to teach them.
These days of preparation were days of deep heart searching. The disciples felt their spiritual need and cried to the Lord for the holy unction that was to fit them for the work of soul saving. They did not ask for a blessing for themselves merely. They were weighted with the burden of the salvation of souls. They realized that the gospel was to be carried to the world, and they claimed the power that Christ had promised. Acts of the Apostles p. 35-37
When we pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, what we are praying for is that our attitudes and thought processes will be radically and totally different than that of the World. We are praying for the mind of Christ: His unselfishness, His love, His humility. When we pray for the Holy Spirit we seek through God’s Word and Counsels what the mind of Jesus is.
Oftentimes, when people pray for the Holy Spirit it consists merely of a repetition of the same request over and over again. “Lord, please send us the Holy Spirit.” “Give us the Holy Spirit.” This is all wrong. To pray intelligently for the Holy Spirit is to pray that we will be changed, that we will see Jesus in His Word; that we will see our own selfishness, our own pride and get rid of it, and then dig in our own lives in the light of God’s Word and Testimonies what God is like and how we compare to it.
By receiving the Holy Spirit, we also receive all other blessings in its train! The following verses apply to Jesus primarily, but they also apply in a secondary sense to all who receive the Holy Spirit in His fullness:
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the reverence of the Lord; and His delight shall be in the reverence of the Lord. He shall not judge by what His eyes see, or decide by what His ears hear; but with justice shall He judge the poor, and with fairness shall he decide for the meek of the land. He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and the wicked He shall slay with the breath of His lips. Righteousness shall be the girdle of His waist, and faithfulness the belt for His loins. (Isa 11:2-5, MLB)
People think that when one receives the Holy Spirit that they receive power of miracles. They do receive power and it is a miracle. This sinful, selfish, prideful human being is able to manifest the power of love!
Now, when one receives the Holy Spirit, what happens to one’s desire to share the Gospel? It cannot be suppressed, it is the driving force in one’s life and God will cooperate with the Spirit-filled human vessel by giving whatever he/she needs to convince others of the Truth, and if that is miracles, so be it and God will give as much and as mighty as is necessary to do the job, but before any outward fireworks can happen, the inward change has to happen to the human agent.
What blocks the Holy Spirit then? What keeps us from having this experience? Only the selfishness, the pride and independence of the human heart. It is one thing to say we want to pray for the Holy Spirit, to even ask for the Holy Spirit, but it is another thing entirely to seek the practical changes that is designed to bring about.