Necessity of Receiving the Holy Spirit
“Ye Shall Receive Power”
“When the heart is emptied of self, it will be ready for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and then you will be fitted to strengthen the sheep and lambs of the flock of Christ; for self will be hid with Christ in God. The Spirit of Christ will be manifested in your daily life.”
“You are to die to self, to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. You need not devise ways and methods of bringing about your own crucifixion; self-inflicted penances are of no avail, and will be found worthless when the test comes upon you. We are to surrender the heart to God, that he may renew and sanctify us, and fit us for his heavenly courts. We are not to wait for some special time, but today we are to give ourselves to him, refusing to be the servants of sin. Do you imagine that you can leave off sin by your own human power a little at a time? You cannot do this….”
Necessity of Receiving the Holy Spirit
"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 Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." This was the promise that Jesus made to his disciples just prior to his ascension, and he bade them tarry in Jerusalem until they should be endowed with power from on high. Jesus had said: "It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. . . . I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
The Holy Spirit’s Enlightenment
The disciples were unable to comprehend the meaning of the words of Christ, and needed the heavenly enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. This is the condition of the followers of Christ in these days just before his coming in the clouds of heaven. The things of earth have the supreme place in the heart, while the things of heaven are held in subordination. The people of God need the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, that the instruction of Christ may be brought to their remembrance. They need to have their understanding enlightened, that they may understand the Scriptures.
After the crucifixion of our Lord, two of his disciples were traveling towards Emmaus, and as they walked together, they noticed a man toiling along the road with them; but they had no thought that it was their risen Lord. Jesus drew near, and joined himself to them, and asked, "What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?" And they answered: "Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and has not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people; and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel; and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulcher; and when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulcher, and found it even so as the women had said; but him they saw not. Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken; ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went; and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and break, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures? . . . Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures."
What was it that made their hearts burn within them as they talked by the way?--It was the illumination of the Holy Spirit. When we take hold of the Scriptures as truth, the word will kindle within us the love of God, and our hearts will burn within us. Have we not experienced this when we have studied the word of God? Have we not found out that faith in the word of God brought gladness to the heart? We need to be touched with the enthusiasm that is kindled by love of God in the heart. Why is it that we do not manifest more of this enthusiasm in the service of God?--It is because those who profess to love God do not serve him with undivided heart.
We Cannot Serve Two Masters
Christ has said, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." No man can serve two masters. No matter how long you have been a Christian, if you do not seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, you do not know Christ or the power of God. If you do not make the service of God your first business, you commit robbery toward God. The question you should ask your soul is: "What right have I to rob God of intelligent service? What right have I to take God's gifts of strength and intellect and devote them simply to advancement of self?" You may have a position of trust and responsibility, and be crowded with work and care, but should you permit yourself to be so burdened that you cannot take time to understand what is your relation to God? Jesus says, "Without me ye can do nothing." Then of what benefit are you to your fellow-men unless you have a connection with Christ? When you become absorbed in the temporal things of life, eternal things are dropped out of your reckoning, and because of your interest in the fleeting things of earth, you rob God of your ability to serve him in sending the gospel to all the world. "Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken? Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up."
The disciples asked: "Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." "Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." In order to go in the path of destruction, there is no necessity for searching for the way; the gate is wide, and the way is broad, and the feet naturally turn in the path that leads to death. Those who go in this way are intoxicated with the spirit of the world, and how sad it is to see those that profess to be children of God walking in the road that leads to perdition.
The line of demarcation between the church and the world has been well nigh obliterated; and unless there is reformation, unless the eyes of those who have been blinded by the enemy are opened, they will be lost. Jesus has given us a warning for this time. He says: "Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore; for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning; lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch."
We need to watch that the enemy may not steal a march upon us and allure us away from allegiance to Christ by attracting us to the things of the world, that the things of eternal interest shall be looked upon as of minor importance, so that we shall make an atom of a world and a world of an atom.
The enemy leads those who do not yield entirely to God to exalt self, to seek for supremacy and power. When the eye is not single to the glory of God, eternity is dropped out of your reckoning. Oh, we need to pray for the vitalizing influence of the Spirit of God. Unless the professed people of God yield themselves to the influence of God's Holy Spirit, they will be overcome by the temptation of Satan; they will have a name to live and be dead, be a curse to the world; for while professing to be the children of God, they will lead men in the path to death. Their record in the books of heaven will be hard to meet. Souls are to be saved. The messengers of God are to fulfill the words of the prophet: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins."
What we need is a conscience quickened by the Spirit of God; for with many, conscience has been stupefied by indulgence in sin and unbelief. We must know what religion is, and realize that we must have a living connection with the God of heaven; for "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
Why do we devote so little time to prayer? Would you not be surprised if you should know God when you do not seek his face? The message to you is, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." You have often been taught of the love of God, and you know that it was a whole Saviour who died on Calvary's cross; but the fact that so great a sacrifice was made in our behalf will condemn our poverty and lukewarmness before God. What excuse can you offer to God that you have had a murmuring spirit, that you have represented your Saviour to the world as a hard master, that you have been exacting and severe with others, domineering over those who were under your control? What excuse can you give to God for manifesting cruelty to dumb creatures that were provided for your use? The spirit of unkindness, of pomposity, of complaining, is not the manner of spirit that will find an entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
Religion is a personal matter. We are not to be saved as churches, but as individuals who have appropriated the merits of Christ. The question each one should ask is: "Is it well with my soul? Has the transforming grace of Christ renewed my heart? Have I a kind, tender, compassionate spirit? Am I like Him who, though he was rich, yet for my sake became poor, that I through His poverty might be made rich? What sacrifice have I made for Him who died for me?"—Part 1, Signs of the Times, July 25, 1892
The Necessity of Receiving the Holy Spirit
"For he shall grow up before him," says the prophet Isaiah, "as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
Jesus did not come to the earth in the glory that belonged to him in the courts of heaven. He covered himself with the habiliments of humanity, that he might reveal unto many the mercy and compassion of the Father by coming into the closest relationship with the sons of men. Clothing his divinity with humanity, he took step after step in the path of humiliation, that he might save unto the uttermost all who would come unto God by him.
If he had come in the glory of an angel, men could not have endured his brightness; but he came taking upon him the form of a man, in all things made like unto his brethren, tempted in all points like as we are, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God.
In view of what Jesus has borne for us, have we any cause for pride? Have you great talents? Who gave them? It was Christ; he gave them that you might employ them in his service. We need the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, that we may realize what is our obligation, and have power from on high to carry out our purposes to serve God and him only. But how little is said concerning the Holy Spirit, although it is a divine influence whereby we are to reach the souls of men. We should study upon this subject. We should talk of it in our families, in our meetings, and pray that we may be baptized with the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit will not come upon the man whose mind is a highway for sensuality. We cannot afford to make a mock at sin. We cannot afford to say to the sinner, It shall be well with thee. We can only point the transgressor to the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Preparing the Heart
When the heart is emptied of self, it will be ready for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and then you will be fitted to strengthen the sheep and lambs of the flock of Christ; for self will be hid with Christ in God. The Spirit of Christ will be manifested in your daily life. The apostle says, "Be ye holy in all manner of conversation." You are to be found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Your whole body, soul, and spirit are to be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord. What we need is the deep movings of the Spirit of God; for the standard of Christian life is expressed in these words: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. . . . Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
Watching and Waiting
In order to fulfill this divine requirement, we need to look upon Him whom our sins have pierced, and become changed into His image. We need the endowment of the Holy Spirit.
Those who profess to be waiting for the coming of Christ, are represented in the parable by the five wise and the five foolish virgins. The wise virgins had oil in their vessels with their lamps; they had their lamps trimmed and burning, and were ready to go out and meet the bridegroom. But the foolish virgins had no oil in their vessels; and when the solemn cry was sounded, they were found unprepared, and could not go forth to meet the bridegroom. Many profess to be wise; but have they the Holy Spirit? As a people, we profess to know the truth, but of what avail will this be if we do not carry out its principles in our life? How many say, "Oh, yes, the coming of Christ is at the door. The end is so near that there is no time to carry the message to those who sit in darkness. There is no need of spending money on foreign work; for the end will come before it will be accomplished." Is this the way that you carry out the injunction of your coming Lord, to preach the gospel in all the world for a witness to all nations? It is your business to be ready for the coming of the Lord, and you cannot be ready while failing to carry out his commands. There are some who seem to feel no responsibility concerning paying their tithes into the treasury of the Lord. They withhold from Him who has given them everything else, the small portion He has named as His own. They say they cannot see that it is their duty to pay tithe; but there is no reason why they should not see it, except that self is before their eyes.
May God help you that you may repent, and pay your honest debts to God, saying, "Of thine own have we given thee." God has given us everything, providing for us the rain, the sunshine, the dew, and all the bounties of nature, and can we be hard-hearted, ungrateful, and selfish? Would you not think that you would naturally be glad to give back to God his own? If anyone is robbing God, he may see by studying the Bible that he should repent and make restitution; for his case has been presented in the word of God. He should fear to continue in blindness of mind, lest for his selfishness he should lose eternal life, which Christ died to obtain for him.
The Lord says concerning those who withhold their tithes, "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee?" And the answer is: "In tithes and offerings. . . . Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed; for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts."
Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." God asks for his portion; he knocks at the door of the heart. We are to divest ourselves of everything that separates our souls from him. When this is done, we shall see of the salvation of God.
The soul is of more value than the whole world. Jesus has said: "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" There are souls to be saved. The gospel is to be preached in all the world for a witness, and may God help us to fulfill all our God-given responsibility. If we had a realizing sense of the worth of souls, would we be found expending money and time in the needless decoration of our persons or our homes? Would we be satisfied in serving self alone? We should open our Bibles to those around us. The work of warning the world does not all devolve upon the minister. Every Christian has a work to do, and let everyone resolve to be clear from the blood of souls. If you were consecrated to the Master, your prayers, like sharp sickles, would follow the laborers in the harvest field, and you would be workers together with God. Rise above the world and fix your eyes upon Him who is chiefest among ten thousand, the one altogether lovely.
All heaven has been poured out in the one rich gift of Christ. When God gave his Son, he gave the choicest gift of heaven. The treasures of heaven are at your command. We are not to go in our own strength, but in the strength of the Lord, for he has said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." There is no limit to the power that may be vouchsafed to the worker for God. Jesus says, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." Do you believe that promise? Our minds have been so engrossed with earthly things that we have lost sight of heavenly things, and may God help us to arouse before it is eternally too late.
Copying the Pattern
In seeking to reform our lives, let us not look at the defects of our brethren; we are to copy the Pattern. When Peter was charged with a certain duty by the Master, he pointed to John, and asked, "Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me." You are to keep your eye single to the glory of God. A saint on earth is to be just what a saint in heaven is. A man in the church will be the same sort of a Christian there as he is in his family. If he is a Christian in his home, he will be a Christian in heaven. How is it with you? Do you stand the test? The Lord will bring circumstances to bear upon you that will lead you to make manifest your true character. You will be tested upon one point, and then upon another, until it is made manifest whether or not you have the spirit of a true Christian.
If those who handle the word of God will come to God as little children, they will see of his salvation, and Jesus will walk among them to make them vessels unto honor. Those who follow in the light need have no anxiety lest that in the outpouring of the latter rain they will not be baptized with the Holy Spirit. If we would receive the light of the glorious angel that shall lighten the earth with his glory, let us see to it that our hearts are cleansed, emptied of self, and turned toward heaven, that they may be ready for the latter rain. Let us be obtaining a fitting up to join in the proclamation of the angel who shall lighten the earth with his glory. Let us be colaborers with Christ. Now is the time for us to let self die, to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts, to deny the cravings of appetite and passion. The minds of many are channels for impure thoughts. They do not have a realizing sense of the offensive character of sin. I call upon you to clear the King's highway. Weighty responsibilities are resting upon you; for you are to represent the character of your Lord to the world. Faith without works is dead. There must be corresponding works, or the faith is worthless, a mere pretension, an empty profession. You are to manifest your faith by a life of integrity, making it evident that Christ is abiding in the heart, and that you are able to show forth what is the hope of his calling.
Then ask yourself: "Am I a Christian? Am I looking unto the Author and Finisher of my faith? Is my hope of eternal life centered in him? Have I fallen upon the rock and been broken?" God help us that we may surrender all to him, seek him as never before, that he may be found of us, and that we may love him with all the heart.
You may well be alarmed for your soul if you allow cares to supplant the truth of God in your heart. If your associates are worldlings who flatter you, telling you how smart you are, and what great things you can do, and you love this unhallowed nonsense, you may well feel that you are in peril; for your moral taste is perverted, your perceptions are blunted.—Part 2, Signs of the Times, August 1, 1892
The Necessity of Receiving the Holy Spirit
In repenting of our sins, we need not go into a cell, as did Luther, and scourge ourselves as a punishment for our iniquity, thinking by so doing to gain the favor of God. The question is asked by the prophet, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" The Scripture says, "A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." "But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and savest such as be of a contrite spirit." "Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it; thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."
Devising Ways of Dying to Self
You are to die to self, to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. You need not devise ways and methods of bringing about your own crucifixion; self-inflicted penances are of no avail, and will be found worthless when the test comes upon you. We are to surrender the heart to God, that he may renew and sanctify us, and fit us for his heavenly courts. We are not to wait for some special time, but today we are to give ourselves to him, refusing to be the servants of sin. Do you imagine that you can leave off sin by your own human power a little at a time? You cannot do this; Jesus was treated as a sinner when he assumed the likeness of sinful flesh, that the sinner might be treated as righteous. The Father loves us who believe in Christ as he loves his only-begotten Son. Thus by faith we can grasp the righteousness of Christ, and our Saviour saves us from all sin. The converted soul will hate the thing that Christ hates, and love the thing that Christ loves. Has he not by his death and suffering made provision for your cleansing from sin? You must take the blood of Jesus and apply it to your heart by faith; for that alone can make you whiter than snow. But you say, "The surrender of all my idols will break my heart." This is what is needed. In giving up all for God, you fall upon the rock and are broken. Give up all for him without delay, for unless you are broken, you are worthless.
Why wait any longer? Why not take God at his word and say, "I give myself to thee; it is all that I can do." If Satan comes to cast his shadow between you and God, accusing you of sin, tempting you to distrust God and to doubt his mercy, say, "I cannot allow my weakness to come between me and God; for he is my strength. My sins, which are many, are laid upon Jesus, my divine sacrifice." Satan desires to keep you in the lowlands of sin, but will you not decide that you will go free? Will you not say:--
"Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling"?
Jesus wants all there is of you. He has paid an infinite price for your soul; all that you have and are belongs to him. May God help you to look and live. Christ is coming in a little while. He has been our brother in suffering, and what joy it brings to hope that we shall soon see him as he is! We shall suffer here but a few days longer, and then enter into an eternity of happiness; for there is rest in the kingdom of God. For those who fight the good fight of faith, there is reserved the glory of an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. Let the determination of every soul be, "I must run the race with patience; I must overcome." If we do not overcome, we lose the crown; and if we lose the crown, we lose everything; there is eternal loss for us. But if we attain to the hope of our calling, we gain the crown, we gain all things; we become heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.
Am I a Watchman
What greater reward could we desire than that presented in the word of God? The invitation is extended to all, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." We are to live by the day for God, and not take upon us the burdens of tomorrow. We are to fight the good fight of faith today; and when tomorrow comes, strength for its duties will be given. The question today should be: "Am I the Lord's? Have I the witness of the Spirit today? Does my name come into the lips of the divine Intercessor today? Am I a coworker with heavenly intelligences today? Am I laboring together with God today? Am I a watchman upon the walls of Zion today, sounding a note of alarm to the people, saying, The morning cometh, and also the night?"
When the watchman sounds the alarm, do the people have no part in the work of warning the world? Do they hear the watchman's voice only to go on indifferently, and act as though they heard nothing? No; they are to catch the message of warning and hope, and sound it again, following the injunction of Scripture, "Let him that heareth say, Come." The people are to be ready to hear the word, and then they are to call to others to catch the divine message from the throne of glory, and send it on to those who sit in darkness. If this were the attitude of the church, do you think that there would be division and discord, evil surmising, evil speaking, and criticising among the professed followers of Christ? May God help us that we may all become converted, and be alive to the importance of the times in which we live. The lower lights must be kept burning.
You say that you want heaven. How much do you want it? What is your faith worth? You will act out all the faith you have. What will be the verdict of the judgment if you go to your farm, to your family, to your earthly affairs, and care not for the message of heaven? There is a world to be warned, and while you sleep, Satan is sowing tares. All heaven is interested in the work that engages the attention of Christ and his angels in the heavenly court, and will you be indifferent who have been purchased at infinite cost? What we need is elevation of character, nobility of soul. Thank God it is not too late for wrongs to be righted. We may still find pardon; we may still find a hiding-place in the Rock of Ages, that has been cleft for us. We may still accept the light, and grow up into Christ, our living head. Jesus says to the trembling, repenting soul, "Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me." "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Will you let him reason with you? Will you commit to him the keeping of your soul as unto a faithful Creator? Come, then, and let us live in the light of his countenance, and pray, as did David: "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. . . . Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. . . . O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise."
Taken from a sermon of Ellen White, given at Healdsburg, California, September 26, 1891.