Receiving the Spirit
There was a time when our hearts were desperately sick... all of us were walking dead in our sins... and we needed to be brought to back to life. A life intimately energized by the Spirit of the Living God - a rebirth, a regenesis, a renewing. We needed a baptism that would cleanse the chaff from our hearts from within/without was required. Some way to get a clean start again. Something that would establish our true identity and purpose, once and for all.
If you search the scriptures, you will see that the heart of man has been evil from its youth (Genesis 8:21) and it has been the focus of God's attention when dealing with man. He sees the heart (I Samuel 16:7) and disregards the outward appearance of man. In answer to David’s prayer, He promises to create in us a pure heart, and renew a steadfast (faithful) spirit within us (Psalm 51:10). This is what He prophesied to do in Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 36:24-27 – For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them… [Emphasis added are mine]
First He promises to choose from among all the nations a place He has prepared for us, that is our own. He promises to cleanse us from all that defiles us and gives us a new heart and a new spirit within. He replaces our stony, hardened heart and gives us a heart of flesh. But He does even more than that. He gives us His own Spirit within.
So that we would walk in His statues, guarding His judgments, fulfilling His word. It is only by the Spirit that we can walk in the newness of life, fulfilling the law of the Spirit of Life in Jesus Christ. This new law liberates us from the previous law of sin and death (that law that says if you sin, you die - Romans 8:2) and allows us to walk after the Spirit.
When did God start fulfilling this promise?
For the Jews:
Acts 2:1-4 – And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. [Emphasis added are mine]
For the Gentiles:
Acts 10:45,46 – And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. [Emphasis added are mine]
He started fulfilling this promise at Pentecost from Jerusalem, through Samaria, to all the earth, after His ascension in glory to the right hand of the Father. At this point we see the birth of the New Covenant Church, His body. Specifically, for the sake of His name, He mercied the Gentiles by also ingrafting (Romans 11:19,24) them into the promise written in Ezekiel. It started for the Gentiles when Peter preached to Cornelius and his household. Even the Jews could not argue against the witness - the Gentiles had also received the Spirit. By God’s own divine choice, Jesus gave them the Spirit exactly as Peter and the rest of the disciples did in the upper loft at Pentecost. Jesus did not even wait for Peter to lay hands on them to take the Spirit. Jesus, in His absolute sovereignty, poured out His Spirit to show that no one can control the outpouring of the Spirit. Jesus alone has ultimate sovereignty over this baptism. He baptizes and blows His Spirit in whomever where He wills, and although you hear Him, you do not know when He comes, or where He goes, and thus are those birthed of the Spirit (John 3:8).
If that is the case, and we can’t control the pouring out of His Spirit, then what are we supposed to do? Just wait, twiddle our thumbs, and whistle or sing praise songs? Well, I believe that there are three things that we can do to prepare for the pour, in order to communicate to Almighty God that we are truly sincere in our desire for the promise. But truly, that communication can only come from our hearts.
The first thing to do is to trust and obey. This immediately leads to repentance, and lastly we should pray and petition Him.
True repentance comes from a spiritual conviction in one's own heart of one’s own sin and the necessity to be saved, delivered, and healed. For different people, the initial manifestation of repentance expresses itself outwardly in different ways. Some cry. Some remain silent. Some shake, some quake, and tremble in an honest upright fear of God. However, these expressions are not really what God is looking for. It’s about what our Father sees inwardly, within our hearts... what we are willing to do in order to change. Remember He is all heart knowing (I Chronicles 28:9b, Psalms 44:21, Jeremiah 17:10). If you mean it, cry out to Him to search your heart, know your thoughts, and to prove you (Psalm 139:23). If it’s true, I believe God will see something like this:
Psalms 51:16,17 – For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
It comes to a point where we realize we can do nothing to please Him and have nothing to offer Him to appease Him. The Lord God says to us in Jeremiah 29-12-14a - "Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD:" As you can see, we are simply broken and crushed before Almighty God asking Him to mercy us and forgive us our sins against Him. The condition of this promise continues in Joel.
Joel 2:12,13a,23,28,29 – Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God:
Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. [Emphasis added are mine]
Here we see the call to repent (to be sorry, regretting our wrong doings and changing of one’s own way toward Him), turning to Him with all our hearts fasting, weeping and chopping. These are outward manifestations of a crushed and broken spirit (heart).
But even in this sorrowful state of conviction, there is a hope... an anticipation of the pour... the downpour of rain. The rain signifying the pouring out of His Spirit.
Then He says, "Afterward!".
After this repentance and obedience, born out of a new found trust in Him, He will pour out His Spirit on all flesh. With that pouring out of His Spirit comes many manifestations of the Spirit, including prophecy, dreams, and visions. But only after this:
II Chronicles 7:14 – If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
We see in these scriptures that:
One: Obedience to His Word is necessary according to these 2 passages in scripture. Doing it His way as He says, because He is watching over His word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12).
Two: Repentance is essential.
Three: It NEVER hurts to ask Him for His promise. Pray and petition Him to fulfill His promise in and to you.
Luke 11:13 – If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
What do we see the disciples and the women doing in the upper loft while waiting for the promise?
Acts 1:14 – These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. [Emphasis added are mine]
No doubt, they are there praying and entreating Jesus for His Spirit. If you read all the gospel of John you would see that He had been telling them to expect the Paraclete (the Comforter) so that they would receive His Spirit as Himself when He ascended to heaven. Not fully realizing what was about to take place, I’m sure that they had repentant hearts. They had obeyed because they were waiting in Jerusalem as He commanded them to do before He ascended in Luke 24:49. Having done these three things, and knowing that they eventually did receive the Spirit, I know Jesus did search their hearts and found them to be sincere in their actions. I believe that it could be said of them that they called on Him, came and prayed to Him, sought Him with all their heart and found Him, His Spirit (Jeremiah 19:12,13).
© copyright 2000, revised 2011 Jesus M. Ruiz