Summary: An examination of NT phrases for the receiving of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts.
Welcoming the Spirit of Pentecost
It is my heart that we encounter a re-visitation of the Holy Spirit through Pentecostal experience, not merely the recognition of an annual event on the Christian calendar, but a rekindled passion for God and the work, which He calls us to perform…
Jack Hayford said, Such a heartfelt passion must be sustained in our lives as disciples of Jesus. Otherwise, Christian living” becomes reduced to simply being nice girls and boys for Jesus, rather than living in the timelessly available resources of the Holy Spirit, fully empowered as witnesses of His life, love and power.
Some traditions persist without the knowledge of their significance. William Poteet wrote in The Pentecostal Minister how in 1903 the Russian czar noticed a sentry posted for no apparent reason on the Kremlin grounds. Upon inquiry, he discovered that in 1776 Catherine the Great found there the first flower of spring. "Post a sentry here," she commanded, "so that no one tramples that flower under foot!"
Keeping our experience in the Spirit’s fullness is very scriptural and should never be relegated to a tradition of indiscernible origin. In the NT, Spirit-fullness is emphasized as a recurring necessity. For example, the disciples of the early church were filled afresh for special situations; Acts 2:4 with 4:31.
The Disciples and Paul recognized this necessity among believers, who had yet to be filled with the Holy Spirit… Acts 8:4, 14-17; Acts 19:1-7. On both occasions, they took leadership to bring these believers into the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
In order for us to gain a sense of the ways in which the Spirit fills us, we can study several of the verbs used in the book of Acts, which describe our being filled to overflowing by the Holy Spirit. He didn’t choose these different words simply to provide a variety of expressions. Rather, they reveal to us the full range of experiences in the Holy Spirit.
1. We Are Baptized in the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:5
In ancient times the Greek word baptizo was used in a number of interesting ways. It essentially described something that was immersed. Examples include a sunken ship, a drowned person, the dipping of a morsel of bread in a drink and the dyeing of a garment.
In using the word “baptizoo” to describe our entry into the dynamic of His fullness of life and power, Jesus chose it to describe living in the fullness of the Spirit. Today, the Lord might say, “I want to flood all compartments with my life and power!”
He was calling for a change, just as a dyed garment takes on an entirely new dimension of beauty that wouldn’t be present otherwise. Just as a sunken ship has all of its compartment flooded, God’s Spirit flows in to fill the vacuum of His presence.
Being baptized in the Holy Spirit brings new qualities to our life and character. So when we talk about baptism in the Spirit, these kinds of immersions show us what we were intended to experience.
2. We Receive Him. Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power…
Interestingly receive, or lambano, conveys both the ideas of giving and receiving. It describes taking or laying hold of something or someone with the hand, in order to make use of it. It can also mean to receive a person to give someone access to one’s self.
Jacob is an OT picture of this in Genesis 32:22. With persistence and passion, he took hold of a promise, a future, a purpose, which only God could give him. Symbolically, in changing his name, God transformed him into His man.
In short, everything ultimately relates to our willingness to be open to Him, to allow His power, grace and glory to flow all ways—to and from us!
EM Bounds wrote in Power of Prayer: The men, who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking him the rest of the day. Behind this early rising and early praying is the ardent desire, which presses us into this pursuit after God. Morning listlessness is the index to a listless heart. The heart, which is behind in seeking God in the morning has lost its relish for God… We might go through the list of men who have mightily impressed the world for God, and we would find them early after God.
A desire for God, which cannot break the chains of sleep, is a weak thing and will do but little good for God after it has indulged itself fully. The desire for God that keeps so far behind the devil and the world at the beginning of the day will never catch up.