Summary: There is the gift of the Holy Ghost that is eternall life and resurrection power, and there is the infilling of the Holy Ghost to have the power to live a victorious life in Christ.
The Gift and Infilling of the Holy Ghost
By Pastor Jim May
I want to begin this morning by asking two questions: First, Have you received the gift of the Holy Ghost? And secondly, have you been filled with the Holy Ghost?
There is a difference between receiving the Holy Ghost and being filled with the Holy Ghost. That difference is what I want to talk about this morning.
Let’s look first at what we mean by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
40 days after Jesus ascended back into Heaven the disciples were still having a prayer vigil in the upper room in Jerusalem. They had been instructed to wait there, to tarry in prayer, until the Comforter would come.
40 days of praying, committing their lives to God, searching their hearts and longing for something more that God had to offer. They already knew that Jesus was the very Son of God and that He has shed his blood for their sins. They had already accepted Jesus’ sacrifice and believed upon him as their Savior. In other words they were already saved and they were truly Christians. They had already received the gift of the Holy Ghost. What was that gift?
We can find an answer by examining one of the most popular passages of scripture that is quoted nearly every week in many of our Pentecostal Churches. It may surprise you to see just what Peter is saying here for we often interpret it to mean something else.
Acts 2:36-39, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 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."
These verses have been quoted by many to teach about the infilling power of the Holy Ghost but if you read them and examine them you will find that there is something else that is really meant here. This isn’t really talking about being endued with power but it’s speaking about being cleansed from sin and receiving the new birth in Christ.
Peter had just finished a long sermon preaching to the Jews about Jesus and who he was. He pointed out that Jesus was truly the Son of God, the Messiah that had been sent from God to be the Savior of Israel and of all men.
Peter had proven through the scripture and shown those who were listening that Jesus had fulfilled every prophecy of the Old Testament writings concerning the Messiah. He had shown them that Jesus was very God, come down in the form of a man and that, worst of all, Israel had crucified him!
What a realization it was when those who were listening finally had their eyes opened and understood what they had done! They had literally killed God! They had murdered the Creator upon a cross and rejected his love that had reached out to them!
What a day it is when we have our eyes opened to the truth of our own sin for the very first time. We wandered in darkness and ignorance of our spiritual condition for years. We thought that everything was all right. We were no worse than anyone else, and even better than many that we compared ourselves to.
And then one day, by the preaching of the Word of God, we discover that we are not good! Then we discover that no one is truly good according to God’s standards. Then we begin to realize that we have offended Almighty God and failed to obey his Word. We are convicted of our sin in the court of Heaven and sentenced to eternal death in Hell and discover that there is nothing that we can do to right the wrongs in our lives.
Then comes that great message of hope. This is the same message that Peter is going to preach right here in Acts 2:38 and 39.
Like the Jews who heard Peter that day, after realizing the great sin that they had committed and the sentence of death that was upon them, we cry out to God, “what shall we do? What can we do?”
That’s when we must hear what Peter is truly saying. There is a way to be set free. There is a pattern that must be followed, and we have to understand that there is no other way of salvation other than that which Jesus has provided for us.