When John the Baptist was working in his ministry he spoke of Jesus saying that He was the one who would baptise people with the Holy Spirit. John baptised with water, but Jesus came and died so that we could be baptised with the Holy Spirit.
After the disciples received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, Peter stood up and spoke to the people. In his oration Peter made reference to the prophecy of Joel when he spoke about the promise of the Holy Spirit. This was and still is one of the greatest gifts that God has given to mankind and the offer of this gift is not diminished down to today.
Perhaps what needs to be understood though, is not what the gift is but why it was given. He did not give us the gift of the Holy Spirit because it seemed like a good idea at the time, he gave it to us for some very specific reasons.
Who Was The Gift Given To?
Prior to the death and resurrection of The Lord, the Holy Spirit was not given to many people. Some of the old prophets and leaders, such as Moses received the Holy Spirit, but the average man did not. The only way a man could come before God was through the intermediary of the Levitical priesthood.
But when Jesus came and died, he brought the New Covenant into being. It was the death of Jesus and the spilling of His blood that ratified the New Covenant. At His death we see the end of the Old Covenant age and the beginning of the gospel age.
Thus we see the promise of the Holy Spirit in the prophecy of Joel come to pass, making the gift of the Holy Spirit available to all of mankind. As it says, even to the slaves or male and female bond servants this gift was promised. It is available to everybody who comes to The Lord and asks for this wonderful gift, not just a select few or a set of priests who are priests because of a fluke of birth. Everyone can receive the gift of the promise of the Holy Spirit.
There are some who do not accept these things though. Some who deny the need to receive the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the spirit, including speaking in tongues. However if we consider what Peter said further down in his oration, it is clear that the offer of the gift of the Holy Spirit is still available to all of us today. In Acts 2:39 Peter says,
“For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
The promise is to everyone including those who were far off. We are those who are far off, for we are far off in time from Peter. But even more significant are the last few words. The gift of the Holy Spirit is offered to, “…everyone whom The Lord our God calls to himself.” For those who believe the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the spirit are not for today, do they believe also that they have not been or are not called by God? I doubt it. But then if anyone believes they have been called by God to himself, then they too are given the offer of receiving the Holy Spirit.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
Now let us look at why we receive the Holy Spirit. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ. Paul said as much in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18.
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
The work of transformation comes from the Holy Spirit. This is the primary job that the Holy Spirit performs in us through the working of the New Covenant. Jesus established the covenant and set in place the requirements that allow us to come to God and receive the Hoy Spirit, and now the spirit works in us and on us to change us into the image of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said that we must be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) But no man is able to perfect himself for man cannot even keep the law, let alone become perfect. Sin prevents man from attaining perfection and that is why we need the help of the Holy Spirit to perfect us.
Jesus took away our sins and made us righteous through his death, which we receive in baptism. He set the foundation in place to enable us to be made righteous. It is now the Holy Spirit building on that foundation of Jesus Christ who will bring us into perfection and into the image of Jesus Christ.
Why Else was the Holy Spirit Promised?
There are many other works that the Holy Spirit does within us and for us. Paul shows us that through speaking in tongues the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf when we are weak and intercedes directly to God for us. Note these words in Romans 8:26-27.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
And there is even more. When Jesus spoke to the disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit and Him sending the spirit to us, He told us of many other benefits and works that the Holy Spirit would do in and for us. Look at the following scriptures.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)
Here Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as a helper and a teacher and the one who will enable us to remember all the things Jesus has taught us. We have a responsibility to read His words, study them and learn His teachings, and the Holy Spirit will recall those words for us when we need them.
Note also that even the disciples did not understand all of the words of Jesus when He taught them, as it says in Luke 24:45, “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” It was to be the work of the Holy Spirit to give them the understanding for he was to teach them and to teach us also.
John 15:26 tells us also that the work of the Holy Spirit is to bear witness to Jesus. He is not called the spirit of truth for no reason for the Holy Spirit bears witness to the truth about Jesus and the way into God’s Kingdom.
John 16:7-15 tells us many of the other things that the Holy Spirit will do for us to bring us into the kingdom of God. Note these words well.
7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment, 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Here we see the work of the Holy Spirit is to guide all of The Lord’s people into the truth. He will convict and convince the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgement. And the Holy Spirit has full access to all that Jesus has and all that the Father has to be able to help us in our walk with Jesus and to guide us into all the truth.
Finally, we see that it is through the Holy Spirit dwelling within us that we receive the love of God. Note these words in Romans 5:5.
“…and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
In summary, the promise of the Holy Spirit was not given just as an aside or an adjunct to Jesus ministry. The giving and the promise of the Holy Spirit was an integral part of the very core of the New Covenant. All of the gifts and blessings that proceed from the Holy Spirit are for one purpose. To bring us to maturity in Jesus Christ so that we can stand before God in His Kingdom, perfected according to His will and His design.
So whatever you do, do not pass up on this promise. Seek The Lord to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the blessings that Jesus offered are made real through the receiving of the promise of the Holy Spirit in your life.
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