The Promise is true and available to all who humbly surrender self to receive a new identity in Jesus to experience his love to the extent that it overflows onto others in witness.
A child is born and there is great jubilation all around while the visitors start comparing the features with either of the parents and even the grandparents. Nicodemus was told by the Lord Himself “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Apostle Paul expressed deep resentment at the fact that the believers wanted to get aligned to one particular person “One says I am of Paul, and another I am of Apollos”. And then he goes on to question “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed as the Lord gave to each one” (1 Corinthians 3:4-5). We as believers start aligning our thought and belief process also with someone who baptized us without realizing that the whole work of bringing a soul to Christ Jesus is only of the Holy Spirit. Lord Jesus Himself preached the Word to the disciples and the multitudes yet till He breathed on them the Holy Spirit and later they were filled with the same Spirit on Pentecost none of the disciples could understand and declare the good news of the Gospel.
What does the Holy Spirit do in us? – The Holy Spirit is the executive authority of the Holy Trinity and His main concern is to reveal God the Father and God the Son to us and to equip us with His leading into a life in tune with Their Will. Apostle Paul clears HIS first work “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). The Holy Spirit “was hovering over the waters” when it was all dark, empty and formless to give power to God’s Word during the creation. Doing the same work He removes the dirt of sin from our eyes and reveals to us the inside of the Holiest of all beyond the veil which lies torn to lead us into that in the presence of God. He regenerates and renews us in His Divine power and then “having believed, you were sealed with the Spirit of promise, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13-14). He stands guarantee for our promised inheritance of redemption and we get sealed and confirmed into this with the Holy Spirit.
After our new birth our sinful nature does not change overnight but undergoes a gradual ‘washing’ to lead us from darkness to light. In our previous state our “minds the god of this age has blinded….lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:4). We were blind to the “Bright and Morning Star” (Revelation 22:16) proclaiming the finishing of the work of our redemption from the cross of Calvary until the Holy Spirit who is “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him”. And He then “enlightens the eyes of our understanding” to show us the “riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:17-18). Through this enlightening process we are “made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) and it is only after this that we are in a position to go near God to fellowship and worship Him.
The next step is to lead us since it is only “Through Him (Lord Jesus) we both (near and distant) have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). And He does not lonely lead us to the Divine Throne of mercy and grace but with us “makes interventions for us with groaning which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). The indwelling Holy Spirit fills our heart with The Divine beauty full of the love of the Lord God and in this facilitates our entering into and abiding in His presence. The regenerative process is continued through “revealing the mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed unto His holy Apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5). The revelation of Word of God in fulfillment of the promise of writing of Divine statutes in our hearts is continued “when we seek God”.
Once we are on to the path of steady progress on our journey towards our inheritance the Holy Spirit grants us further blessings for us “to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). This strengthening enables us to sustain our spiritual life and helps us to fight the darts of the enemy. The Holy Spirit thus works in us right through the whole process of our redemption from the beginning. Prophet Elisha prayed to his mentor Elijah to “Let me inherit a double portion of your Spirit” (2 Kings 2:9-10) and he performed double of the number of miracles of Elijah. The Holy Spirit is promised to us by the Lord as our permanent partner to “convict us of sin” to protect us from its commission and Apostle Paul urged the followers to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
How do we get filled with the Holy Spirit? – Elijah’s reply to Elisha specified a condition for obtaining the ‘double portion’ of the Spirit “You have asked a hard thing, but if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so unto you” (2 Kings 2:10). The two conditions imposed by Elijah relate to the great esteem which the Holy Spirit must be held by calling it ‘a hard thing’ thus showing him his unworthiness to receive. The second is to closely “follow him and his teachings” through a careful and diligent focus on the manner of ‘his being taken up’. In like manner the command from our Lord to the disciples was “not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4). Jerusalem at that time was considered to be the most dangerous place by the Apostles but it was also the place of the Temple of God with readily available audiences to be reached with the message of Christ. The first part of the command pertains to their overcoming their fears through “praying together” since the waiting period could not be used for anything else. The second aspect is to “wait in faith for fulfillment of the Promise” and then and only then to proceed to witness for without the indwelling Holy Spirit and their enlightenment thus their witness would in any case be futile. Another part is about preparing them to forsake all for their Servant Master by not focusing on Galilee, a safe place for them, but be ready to move from “Jerusalem to all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
They waited and were “all filled with the Spirit” and by understanding their preparation for this we can also receive the same blessing. A detailed study reveals the following essential facts.
- Lord we have forsaken all and followed thee – Peter had emphatically declared this and they had left their fishing nets and ships, Matthew had left his tax receipts and everyone had not looked back (Matthew 19:27). Lord Jesus demands the same total commitment to Him from us- half hearted attempts will not do. The directive is “Except a man forsake all he cannot be my disciple” and this involves letting go of pride, self, social position, affections and desires and personal will. Before a vessel can be used by Him the requirement is threefold – firstly it must be emptied out, of all that is within and second is the cleansing with the washing at His footstool through repentance and forgiveness and finally to follow Him in totality. The “pearl” that is being acquired is so precious that all must be given for getting it and then and only then will He “fill up the emptiness” and take possession. But to receive Him this is a small price to pay.
- Lord, to whom shall we go?– They had left everything though they were hopeful of positions of authority in Lord’s kingdom and there was nowhere to go after following Him for three years and more (John 6:68). Even during the Last Supper in the upper room they were busy trying to decide the hierarchy of their positions. Suddenly the events leading to Calvary had exposed each one in his true colors for none was there with Him at the time of crisis despite their high talk. They had not calculated the power of self that rules us all and this lesson can only be learnt while standing before the cross and nowhere else. Their pride of following the Lord even unto death was shattered and bewilderment and despair had filled their hearts. It is difficult to imagine what must have transpired in their hearts during the two days before His resurrection and then the race to see the empty tomb. They were witness to all the healings, miracles and His transformation and had heard the Voice of the Father and the agony of having deserted the Lord at the crucial time had broken their spirits. They were in total despair and ready to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
- They had oneness with the Lord – In a graduation ceremony the tears that flow at being parted with the roommates and the heartbreak of separation is severe. The twelve had lived with the Lord for three years and closely witnessed His love for them and for everyone else. His genuineness of heart had made them one with Him and they had failed Him while He had been there always for them. They had experienced His love, been enveloped by it and were filled with that love. Without that complete love for the Lord the Holy Spirit cannot come in for He comes in only to reveal Jesus.
- They believed Him –They had seen the Divine power working in Him and during the period of “tarrying in Jerusalem”; rather right from after witnessing the Resurrection, they were fully convinced in their hearts about His truth. And “the truth made them free” from all doubts. We feel that we may not be able to do this, neither could the twelve. Once we surrender to Him fully then He controls everything for He has the authority over everything. We have to surrender in faith.
- They were ready –They had been humbled and brought down their lofty self created pedestals through the shocking revelation of their fear for self. And they were now empty, broken and eager brought low and were not eager to attain any height on their own. The surrender, the humbling, the preparation was now complete and “they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). They were earnestly in prayer for the blessings from the Lord from heaven for the “Holy Spirit to come down as the sound of rushing mighty wind” to fill them.
The Lord desires a contrite spirit that has realized the utter sinfulness of self with no hope of redemption coming to Him in complete surrender. He can only fill an empty vessel that desires to be filled for a soul already filled with pride, self, ego, desires, envy and personal will is of no use. For coming to His throne the first condition is to deny self and this denial includes attempting to achieve this on our own efforts. Come to the Lord in utter despair “where can we go but You, O Lord” for You alone are our hiding place and then pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit. He is loving, forgiving and generous towards those who seek Him and is waiting for the return of the prodigal son to return to him his lost glory and bless him.
The disciples could not, nor can we on our own. He is seated on His throne and our place is to be at His footstool to become useful to Him. Let us humble ourselves before Him and be filled with His love and power revealed through the Holy Spirit!!