The Lord Jesus Christ promised to give His disciples a powerful blessing as long as they met the conditions … “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me” (Acts 1:4). Many Christians know about this outpouring of the Holy Spirit and understand that the blessing is for them too, but they have gone no further than this. They have not apprehended this gift for themselves. They are still without the blessing which would make their lives holy, joyous and powerful in and for the Lord.
A Simple Command
About 5,000 followers of Jesus witnessed His ascension into Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:6), and so must have heard Him speak of the coming Holy Spirit. He told them, “Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). That is all they needed to do, yet out of that number only 120 were willing to obey the Lord’s command. The other 3,800 Christians must have loved the Lord, but they did not receive the power of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
Just like Bible-believing Christians today, those first followers of Jesus would have made a number of excuses for not obeying the Lord:
a) There were family concerns to attend to first.
b) They had important business to attend to.
c) Surely it is possible to receive the blessing at another time and in another place.
d) Family, friends and neighbours would ridicule me.
e) I already believe in Christ as Saviour, I’m saved, that’s all that matters.
Many believers soothe their consciences with feeble excuses for not obeying the Lord’s command. They think they will be labelled a fanatic or charismatic if they receive the power of the Holy Spirit for Christian service. They may claim that they already have the power of the Spirit, but where is the evidence? How many unsaved souls are being transformed into saints through their personal witness? There is a difference between receiving the Holy Spirit at conversion and receiving His power. Prior to Pentecost the disciples had already received the Holy Spirit … “He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22), but they still needed to tarry for the “Power from on high” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5-8).
What’s your excuse?
Someone once said that excuses are sugar-coated lies. Excuses are so very easy to make, but none of them excuse us from obeying any of the Lord’s commands. What excuses do we have …
a) For being joyless when we might be exultant?
b) For being unclean when we might be holy?
c) For being cold of heart when we might be zealous?
d) For being weak when we might be valiant soldiers of the cross?
We will never advance from the pew if we continually make excuses for not receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This has nothing to do with modern-day Pentecostalism or the so-called Charismatic Movement, for the outpouring of the Spirit is available to those who truly believe in Christ. The others may think that the evidence of this is speaking in Tongues, but the true manifestation of the Holy Spirit is evidenced in the power of a changed life, and in a boldness to proclaim the Gospel (Acts 2:1-47). When the 120 received such power 3,000 souls got saved!
So what if the majority in the church do not see the need to receive this power of the Spirit? Should we align ourselves with the 3,800 who did not obey, or with the 120 who did? Let’s shake off all excuses and past failures. Let’s look beyond the excesses and abuses by seeing what the Scriptures actually say on this matter. We need to press forward with holy determination. Let us see if there be “any Holy Ghost” or not (Acts 19:2). It will cost us, but we will be full of the Holy Ghost and power.