For by grace you have
been saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8 WEB

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Our God in the Heights

New Life in the Power of the Spirit

There are two sides to salvation: Jesus’ death for you and the Spirit’s life in you. Just as Jesus died for you the death you deserved, so the Holy Spirit has come to live in and through you the life you could not attain. As you look to Jesus in love and trust, the Holy Spirit (without any effort on your part) raises you into the new way of life. Walking in the Spirit is a great beginning; supernatural empowerment lies just ahead.

And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 ESV
 

Two Tremendous "Promises of the Father"

During the Old Testament period the Holy Spirit was definitely present and powerful, but He was never permanently present within the Israelite believers, nor was His power equally available to  A Powerful Wave : Living in the Power of the Holy Spiritthem all. A few individuals, for instance, were chosen and anointed by the Spirit of God for specific reasons. Prophets, priest, kings, leaders like the “judge” Samson, craftsmen, and others experienced the Holy Spirit coming “upon” them at certain times or were “anointed” for certain tasks.

God promised that this would change dramatically in the future. The day would surely come when the Lord God would make a way for His Spirit to be placed both “within” and also be poured out “upon” his believing people.

1) Inward Life. The promise of an indwelling presence was given through Ezekiel. The Lord declared that one day He would give us a “new heart” and put a “new spirit” within us.  In hindsight we can see better what this meant than would have been possible for Ezekiel’s contemporaries. Through faith-conversion we now understand that God gives us a new heart—one that knows Him and loves Him—and places His Spirit within us when we are born again. This is called regeneration and it is accomplished as the Holy Spirit is joined to our spirit, raising us from spiritual death to new life in Christ. So much of this hidden work is shrouded in mysteries that we may never fully understand or agree upon. Nevertheless, it is clear even in this prophetic passage from Ezekiel that God intends to cleanse us from sin and restore us to faithful living by empowering us from within.

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36:25-28 ESV
 

2) Supernatural Power. The promise of an empowering presence was given through Joel. The Lord declared that one day He would “pour out” the Holy Spirit upon us. In the words of Joel this outpouring would be upon “all flesh”—not just a select few. Everyone in the faith community from youth to elderly, both men and women, would be suitable candidates for receiving this divine empowerment. Dreams, visions and prophecy are specifically identified as among the supernatural gifts that would be given, but more is implied. The prophets of ancient Israel were renowned, not just for their visionary encounters with God and their words from the Lord, but also for healing and miracles of all kinds. These too will be “poured out” when the Holy Spirit comes upon God’s people to empower them for supernatural works of ministry.

"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” Joel 2:28-29 ESV
 

In the Upper Room on the evening of the Resurrection as Jesus breathed upon His disciples, they “received” the Holy Spirit. Clearly, at this moment in time they were the first fully “born again” believers in the resurrected Lord.[1] This fulfilled the Father’s promise given through Ezekiel.

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld." John 20:22-23 ESV
 

In the Upper Room on the morning of Pentecost (50 days later) many of these same disciples received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them. This fulfilled the Father’s promise of empowerment given through Joel, which is also the “promise of the Father” Jesus referred to when He told them to pray and wait for "power from on high."[2]

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 ESV
 

Two Ways to Receive the Gift of the Spirit

What this tells us is that there are two quite different ways in which the Holy Spirit can be given to those who believe. These gifts equip us in different ways for different purposes.

1)  Every Christian receives the gift of the Indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit within them through faith-conversion when they repent and turn to Jesus as their Savior. This is the source of our new life in Christ. We are forgiven for our past and we have Jesus living in us through the Holy Spirit. We all receive an equipping for dwelling in Jesus by faith and growing spiritual fruit as we learn to trust and obey Him.                                              

2) Any Christian who desires it can also receive the gift of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them. This Baptism of Power is the source of our empowerment for the supernatural workings of the Holy Spirit. This readies us for Jesus to do His deeds of power through us by His Holy Spirit. Being "baptized with power" from on high is available to everyone who believes in the Risen Lord and is willing to seek this further blessing of empowerment.
 

More to Explore about the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit, Jesus and You  The family resemblance is uncanny. Jesus' earthly relationship with the Holy Spirit is exactly mirrored by our own, practically in every detail. The few remaining parts of the image require our trusting obedience to fill in. Will we allow God to finish the portrait He desires to paint upon the canvass of our life?

The Indwelling Presence  Surprise! The Holy Spirit of God is now living inside of you! He has always been with you, but now He is in you. This is our “guarantee” that we are indeed going to heaven, but it is so much more.[3]  Holy Spirit has been sent to bring into our lives everything necessary for life and right living. It is impossible to live as a true Christian without God’s help and we don’t have to: the Helper is always as close as your next thought. 

The Baptism of Power  Jesus actually told the first disciples “Don’t leave home without this!” So important is this spiritual empowerment that even the followers who had been trained by Him in person, who had received saving faith and the indwelling Spirit on Easter evening, even these dedicated believers were told to stay in Jerusalem and pray to be “baptized with the Holy Spirit.”[4] If they needed it, don’t we?

Praying in Tongues  Do you have to? No, but you can if you want to and you just may want to. Paul did. In fact he was glad that he prayed in tongues more than the people to whom his letters were addressed. Since he also wrote more of the New Testament than anyone else, he ought to know why something this "scandalous" is so secretly good!

Nine Gifts of Power  Jesus never intended for His church to be powerless or penniless. Just as the tithe is the Lord’s provision for material supply, so the baptism in the Spirit is His provision for supernatural supply. Neither is forced on anyone, but when believers come into obedience, watch out! The “windows of heaven” open wide!  Through the baptism in the Spirit, Jesus pours out gifts that will manifest as signs and wonders for the sake of ministry to someone He wants to bless.

The Etiquette of Intimacy  Here we seek to lift the veil on aspects of our relationship with the Holy Spirit that are more intimate and subtle and, therefore, harder to describe. That should not surprise us. The closer we get to any mystery, the more mysterious it becomes.               


Scriptures and Foot Notes

[1]  The “gold standard” for evidence of having received saving faith is given by Paul in Romans and these disciples would have easily passed on both counts: Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:9-10 ESV
[2]  In his on-the-scene explanation of the events of Pentecost Peter specifically identified the promise of the Father in Joel as being the one which Jesus had called them to seek: But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.’” Acts 2:14-17 ESV
[3]   In this passage from Ephesians Paul writes that believers are sealed with the "promised" Holy Spirit when they believe the gospel. The promise being referred to here is that of Ezekiel 36:25-28--the indwelling Spirit who resides permanently within every believer: In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV
[4]  We call this secondary experience of Holy Spirit empowerment the "baptism in the Spirit" because Jesus identified this "promise of the Father" as being "baptised with the Holy Spirit": And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." Acts 1:4-5 ESV