“And, 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). This is the Lord Jesus’ very special promise to all His disciples before He ascended into Heaven. These words can only relate to the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and obviously refer to the Baptism with the Spirit. “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. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence … But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:4-5, 8). This Heavenly power was given to enable Christ’s followers of all eras to fulfil the ministry that He had called them to. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20).
The next step
The disciples had been with Jesus for three years; they had been witnesses of His miracles and had heard Him teach on all things relating to the Kingdom of Heaven and the believers’ behaviour while they await His return to earth. They had already experienced great results in their ministry prior to Christ’s death on the cross. They had seen the sick healed, the dead raised and many coming to repentance. So why did they need this endowment of power that the Lord was offering? The fact is, they could do all of this because Jesus was with them, but once He ascended to Heaven they would not be as successful without the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. They could never accomplish the task the Lord had set for them without being baptised with the Holy Spirit. Therefore why do believers today think that they can do the work of Christ without this power from on high? We may indeed be called to the ministry, but the commission is not authorised until we actually receive what Jesus promised His followers. Consider this, even Christ did not set out on His earthly ministry until He was baptised in water and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him (see Luke 3). Can there be any better example for us to follow?
How many are engaged in Christian ministry, teaching Sunday School, teaching Bible class, doing missionary work and preaching from the pulpit without being empowered by the Spirit of God? They may have brilliant minds, human ability and a certain amount of common sense, but have they ever truly been commissioned and authorised for service? “Many are sent, but the others just went” is a true description of the state of church ministry today. Some take up or are put in positions of authority because they appear to have commendable qualities and talents, but that is not necessarily the way the Lord sees things. “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). This does not suggest that such people cannot accomplish anything worthwhile; nevertheless it is always going to be little compared with being baptised with the Holy Spirit.
The question must be asked, “Should a person continue to labour for the Lord once he or she realises that they are not yet baptised with the Spirit?” The answer is remarkably simple. Such a person ought to cease from all activity in connection with ministry until he or she receives the endowment of power from God, and there must be evidence that it is with them. This waiting until one has received the baptism is not determined by hour, days or months, instead the power can come upon them the instant his or her life is surrendered to Christ for service. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). All that is required is to tarry in the presence of God until the blessing is received.
Once again, it needs to be made clear that this promise of being baptised with the Holy Spirit was not only for the disciples who tarried in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost, instead it is available for all believers of all eras. Until the Great Commission is fulfilled, those engaged in spreading the Gospel of Christ must be baptised with the Spirit of God. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39). We will look at this further in our next study.
Christianity has sunk to an all time low in our generation. Our churches have become formal, lifeless and worldly. Many believers claim to have received the Holy Spirit’s power but evidence that proves it is extremely difficult to find. Where there is any semblance of life, it is usually worked up by over enthusiastic preachers. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). This is where the answer lies. We need a mighty outpouring of God’s Spirit on our lives.