The Bible teaches that it is every believer’s blood-bought privilege to be spiritually reborn in God—and to be sanctified through baptism in the Holy Spirit. With Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary, God made it possible for us to be saved from our sins.
Christ died not only for our sins to be forgiven but also for our hearts to be fully purified. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
In His High Priestly Prayer, Jesus prayed, not only for His current disciples, but for all who would come to believe through them, that “they also may be sanctified by the truth” (John 17:9b). He also said that His leaving would benefit His followers by making way for the Spirit to come and live in them and be with them eternally. Finally, shortly before His ascension to Heaven, He ordered them to stay in Jerusalem until they received the power of the Spirit.
Trusting in His promise and obeying His command, they remained in the upper room and waited as one. Their waiting was not in vain, and “when the Day of Pentecost had fully come…they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:1–4).
They could no longer be who they had been before. The truth that had been hidden was now revealed to them. Their weak and faltering hearts were filled to the brim with new strength. Their message was heavenly dynamite. They witnessed with great boldness. Their listeners had to acknowledge that something extraordinary had taken place and continued to take place. It caused a stir, and with good reason, because a key event that the prophets had already been talking about centuries before had really come to be. The Kingdom of God had arrived in all its power, and the people of God had come into their own. This was God’s inheritance for His children. The spiritual Israel had come to Canaan, the long-promised land of rest.
If our report were to end at this point in the story, we would have no special cause for joy. The best thing of all is that this coming of the Holy Spirit extends to us today. As Peter—or, better said, the Holy Spirit through him—explains, “The promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39).
The fact that this coming of and filling with the Spirit did not end on the day of Pentecost is made clear in the case of Saul of Tarsus, who also serves as proof that the Holy Spirit only comes upon believers, i.e. people who are already saved and who have experienced forgiveness for their sins. It is hard to deny that Saul’s conversion happened on the way to Damascus when he—up to that moment a blasphemer, persecutor, and man of violence—said to Jesus, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Acts 9:6) Three days later, Ananias came to him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17).
There are other examples that show us the same thing, like the Samaritans in Acts 8, Cornelius and his household in Acts 10, and the disciples in Ephesus in Acts 19.
This is how the believers in the church came into their blood-bought inheritance. The strength they gained this way marked them wherever they went and in whatever they did. It was this strength that inspired others to speak of them as “these who have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). Wherever they went, something happened to jolt entire regions of people out of their ignorance; they caused a spiritual revolution.
Thanks be to God that receiving the Holy Spirit in His fullness is not the privilege of the few but a right enjoyed by all who follow Jesus. Speaking to the Ephesians, Paul very directly instructed them to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The apathy and worldliness prevalent in so many individuals and congregations today can be traced back to people ignoring this instruction. This also explains why the Christian lives of many people are stuck in infancy, why many people draw no real joy from serving God, why so many lives bear no fruit, and why there are so few people leading spiritual lives and so many walking according to the flesh, to use Paul’s terminology (Romans 8:4). Many are children in Christ rather than grown men and women in God.
Even worse is that they are content with this state of affairs, going so far as to reject the idea that there is something better and greater in store for them. Too many people are content to live without many of the privileges afforded to them by the Lord. They do not recognize that we live in the best of times—not only in the time of grace but also in the glorious fulfillment of this promise. As Jesus says, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them” (John 17:22). This means that we can be full of glory and grace, just like our Master.
It is true that we need to meet certain conditions before the Spirit can come in His fullness, but do not let this fact obscure how simple it is to receive the fullness of the Spirit. The conditions are: a sincere desire to be filled with the Spirit, an unconditional surrender to the will of God, and the receipt of the Holy Spirit through a simple act of faith. If you are a child of God, you do not need to wait until Pentecost, like the disciples, because the Spirit is already waiting for you—waiting to enter your heart.
But do not seek only influence or power or comfort or joy; seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit Himself. The Holy Spirit is a person. When He arrives, He brings strength. When He enters you, you gain not only comfort but also the Comforter. He brings lasting joy—joy in the Holy Spirit. His presence makes us holy.
Give yourself fully to Him, and He will give all of Himself to you.