But Ye Shall Receive Power - 1.

By Ray Foster

 

Acts 1:8 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.

Why did Jesus say "But"? The disciples had a question. We have our questions. The disciples’ question is given to us in Acts 1:6 "When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" Jesus had always disappointed their fondest hopes of the restoration of Israel to political power. What do you want most from Jesus? What is your fondest hope in life? Has Jesus consistently disappointed your fondest hopes?

The answer Jesus gave to the disciple’s repetitive question is found in Acts 1:7 "And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power." The Greek word translated "power" could also be translated "authority".

In Deuteronomy 29:29 it is written: "The secret [things belong] unto the LORD our God: but those [things which are] revealed [belong] unto us and to our children for ever, that [we] may do all the words of this law."

We have a tendency to want to know the secret things of God rather than to do His expressed will. This idea is embodied in the name of the tree of knowledge of good and evil that we are warned not to eat of. If we knew what God keeps secret, it would be harmful and detrimental to us. Because that knowledge would not help us "to do all the words of this law", God keeps it secret. The one thing needful for us is not to know God’s secrets, but "to do all the words of this law".

God’s moral law is a description of His character. God’s desire for us is to have His character because for us to have His character is happiness and joy for ourselves, for God, and for all we come in contact with. It is written in Psalms 16:11 "Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fulness of joy; at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore." Joy and pleasure are always inclusive. If one party is full of joy and having pleasure – so is the other party. We are told in Jude 24 "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy," To be presented faultless before the throne of God will give God and His people exceeding joy.

Jesus answer to the disciples question started with the word "But"! The disciples were still asking the wrong question even after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. And Jesus was still patient with them. "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."

The next few opportunities I get to study with you on Sabbath, I want, by God’s grace, to study with you what the greatest desire in the heart of Jesus is for us all. The disciples opened their hearts to Jesus and asked again their favorite question – "Is this the time you are going to establish your visible, political, temporal kingdom on earth?" And Jesus gently rebuked them saying that the timing of that is not for them to know. "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." The greatest desire that Jesus has for each of us is that we partake of His character in the here and now in order that we may live the life of Jesus. This will lift Jesus up in character. Jesus lifted up in character will be the witness that will end sin and suffering in this world and hasten the advent of God’s temporal, political kingdom of God on earth.

Jesus said in John 12:32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me."

There is one step between us and being the witnesses that Jesus wants us to be. That step is characterized as having two parts. Part one is death to self. Part two is receiving the power of the Holy Spirit. Death to self and Receiving the power of the Holy Spirit go together. This combined step will enable us to have His character and to live His life. This is the witness that will end this world as we currently know it. Let me first answer a question you may have: Who? Me, dead to self, and filled with the Holy Spirit? Yes, you. Listen:

"The lapse of time has wrought no change in Christ's parting promise to send the Holy Spirit as His representative. It is not because of any restriction on the part of God that the riches of His grace do not flow earthward to men. If the fulfillment of the promise is not seen as it might be, it is because the promise is not appreciated as it should be. If all were willing, all would be filled with the Spirit. Wherever the need of the Holy Spirit is a matter little thought of, there is seen spiritual drought, spiritual darkness, spiritual declension and death. Whenever minor matters occupy the attention, the divine power which is necessary for the growth and prosperity of the church, and which would bring all other blessings in its train, is lacking, though offered in infinite plenitude." {AA 50.1}

"Since this is the means by which we are to receive power, why do we not hunger and thirst for the gift of the Spirit? Why do we not talk of it, pray for it, and preach concerning it? The Lord is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who serve Him than parents are to give good gifts to their children. For the daily baptism of the Spirit every worker should offer his petition to God. Companies of Christian workers should gather to ask for special help, for heavenly wisdom, that they may know how to plan and execute wisely. Especially should they pray that God will baptize His chosen ambassadors in mission fields with a rich measure of His Spirit. The presence of the Spirit with God's workers will give the proclamation of truth a power that not all the honor or glory of the world could give." {AA 50.2}

"In the great and measureless gift of the Holy Spirit are contained all of heaven's resources. It is not because of any restriction on the part of God that the riches of His grace do not flow earthward to men. If all were willing to receive, all would become filled with His Spirit." {COL 419.1}

"As man's Intercessor and Advocate, Jesus will lead all who are willing to be led, saying, 'Follow Me upward, step by step, where the clear light of the Sun of Righteousness shines.'" {LS 324.1}

"Sin brings physical and spiritual disease and weakness. Christ has made it possible for us to free ourselves from this curse. The Lord promises, by the medium of truth, to renovate the soul. The Holy Spirit will make all who are willing to be educated able to communicate the truth with power. It will renew every organ of the body, that God's servants may work acceptably and successfully. Vitality increases under the influence of the Spirit's action. Let us, then, by this power lift ourselves into a higher, holier atmosphere, that we may do well our appointed work."--R.H., Jan. 14, 1902. {MM 12.2}

"It is time for every one of us to decide whose side we are on. The agencies of Satan will work with every mind that will allow itself to be worked by him. But there are also heavenly agencies waiting to communicate the bright rays of the glory of God to all who are willing to receive Him." {OHC 15.5}

"Christ Himself is the renewing power, working in and through every soldier by the agency of the Holy Spirit. The efficiency of the Spirit of God will make effective the labors of all who are willing to submit to His guidance." {YRP 183.1}

"Wonderful possibilities are provided for every one who has faith in Christ. No walls are built to keep any living soul from salvation. The predestination, or election, of which God speaks, includes all who will accept Christ as a personal Saviour, who will return to their loyalty, to perfect obedience to all God's commandments. This is the effectual salvation of a peculiar people, chosen by God from among men. All who are willing to be saved by Christ are the elect of God. It is the obedient who are predestinated from the foundation of the world. "To as many as received him, to them he gave power to become the sons of God, even to as many as believed on him."" {GH, June 11, 1902 par. 3}

"What is the seal of the living God, which is placed in the foreheads of his people? It is a mark which angels, not human eyes, can read; for the destroying angel must see this mark of redemption. The intelligent mind has seen the sign of the cross of Calvary in the Lord's adopted sons and daughters. The sin of the transgression of the law of God is taken away. They have on the wedding garment, and are obedient and faithful to all God's commands." {GH, June 11, 1902 par. 4}

The selection process for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, is willingness on our part. Willingness on our part to be emptied of self in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit is the only selection criteria. "Thy people [shall be] willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth." Psalms 110:3 Of course you are not good enough! Nobody except Jesus is good enough. That is the very reason we have to be emptied of self. The selection question is not are you good enough. The selection question is: "Are you willing to be made willing by God?"

The specific questions we want to study about the Holy Spirit to learn God’s answers are:

  1. What does it mean for the Holy Spirit to come upon me and upon us?
  2. How can I cooperate with Jesus’ desire that we be baptized with the Holy Spirit like He was?
  3. How can I tell if I have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
  4. How can I tell if the power I have received is from God or from the Devil?
  5. What about the outpouring of the Latter Rain – what is the relationship between being baptized daily now with the Holy Spirit and receiving the outpouring of the Latter Rain?

There are other questions that you have. Please ask those questions and let us add your questions to the list of questions that we want answers for from God. Please understand. I am not interested in your opinion or anyone else’s opinion. I want to know what God says in answer to these questions. The disciples had endless arguments and fights over the question of who is the greatest. The underlying supposition for their favorite question was that Jesus was going to set up a temporal, political kingdom on earth in their day. Their underlying supposition was wrong. That made all of their questions and discussions and decisions invalid. We come to the subject of the Holy Spirit with suppositions. Our suppositions may be our greatest hindrance for us to understand the answers to the questions we want to study. The underlying suppositions are the answers to the questions as to Who or What is the Holy Spirit? What is the relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Father and His only-begotten Son? These are vital questions for us to understand. I would be happy to discuss these questions with anyone privately. However it is best if you get these answers yourself directly from God by your own private study of Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy. I hope that the quotations we have already looked at from God through the Spirit of Prophecy has laid to rest your presupposition that you are not good enough to receive the Holy Spirit. The only question is: "Are you willing?" What we are all taught these days as an underlying supposition: "I’m OK; Your OK" is not true. God tells us that our hearts are deceptive and desperately wicked. The gospel as it is in Jesus presents one solution and one solution only to sin and that is death. The willingness that Scripture talks of is the willingness to die to self and do the will of God as defined by the law of God. When Jesus said that He had come to do the will of His Father, it included death on the cross of Calvary for sin and because of sin. When Jesus took a sinful body He could not get out of that sinful body alive. Before that sinful body died, Jesus made the perfect revelation of the character of His Father. Because of sin the true gospel presents death to self and the life of God. We cannot get the eternal life of God without the death to self. The life that we now have without death to self is probationary life. Probationary life is temporary and is soon to end. Probationary life is given us for the purpose of giving us the opportunity to die to self and to live to God in our sinful bodies even as Jesus did. The reason that this point is so important is that there are two spirits in the world. One Spirit requires death to self before coming in. The other spirit does not require death to self before coming in. Which spirit would you like to have? To make no choice is to be filled with the spirit of Satan in the end. Everybody in the world is going to be filled with one spirit or the other. We have the privilege of choosing if we are willing to take the time and the effort to choose. To make no choice is to make the wrong choice.

  1. What does it mean for the Holy Spirit to come upon me and upon us?

A pentecostal who has received the gift of tongues or who has been born of the Spirit will tell you that it means that a supernatural power takes control of your tongue and your mind and your body. You faint away and roll around and make all kinds of sounds or cry or laugh uncontrollably. Loss of personal control seems to be the chief characteristic. Violent bodily actions and loud noise or sounds seems to be the chief manifestation of this spirit. Those who receive that spirit do not need to die to self. My current understanding is that is reason why that spirit is so popular. You can have it your way and do it your way and receive the spirit of the Devil; because that is the spirit of the Devil.

Adventists have also had this experience in the past, and we are told that it will happen again. When this phenomenon happened among us in the past God had something to say on the subject.

 

"The things you have described as taking place in Indiana, [THESE COMMENTS WERE MADE IN CONNECTION WITH THE "HOLY FLESH" MOVEMENT AT THE INDIANA CAMP MEETING OF 1890. FOR FURTHER DETAILS, SEE SELECTED MESSAGES, BOOK 2, PP. 31-39.] "the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation. Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions. . . ." {LDE 159.1} Last Day Events

"A bedlam of noise shocks the senses and perverts that which if conducted aright might be a blessing. The powers of satanic agencies blend with the din and noise to have a carnival, and this is termed the Holy Spirit's working. . . . Those things which have been in the past will be in the future. Satan will make music a snare by the way in which it is conducted."--2SM 36, 38 (1900). {LDE 159.2}

"Let us give no place to strange exercisings, which really take the mind away from the deep movings of the Holy Spirit. God's work is ever characterized by calmness and dignity."--2SM 42 (1908). {LDE 159.3}

So if the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not characterized by noise and rolling around and dancing and shouting with music with drums, then how is it characterized?

Jesus was filled and baptized with the Holy Spirit at the time of His water baptism by John in the river Jordan. We can read about this in:

Matthew 4:1 "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

Mark 1:12, 13 "And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.

"And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him."

Luke 4:1 "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,"

John 1:29 "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

1:30 "This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.

1:31 "And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.

1:32 "And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.

1:33 "And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

1:34 "And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

1:35 "Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;

1:36 "And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

1:37 "And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

1:38 "Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?

1:39 "He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour."

God gives a lot more details of what Jesus did after His Holy Spirit baptism through John than He does through Matthew, Mark, or Luke. My current understanding that after receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit that He called His first disciples to follow Him. God tells us in the writings of Ellen White: "John, one of the new disciples, had searched for Christ and had found Him in His humiliation, emaciated, and bearing the marks of great physical and mental distress. Jesus, unwilling that John should witness His humiliation, had gently yet firmly dismissed him from His presence. He wished to be alone; no human eye must behold His agony, no human heart be called out in sympathy with His distress." {5BC 1132.2}

So we see Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit at His water baptism with no external manifestations of speaking or shouting loudly or dancing about or doing anything except being about His Father’s business. He invited Andrew and John to come and see where He was staying. Jesus met Peter and told him that He was going to change his name from Simon which means hearing to Cephas or Peter which means a stone. Jesus is the Rock on which the church is built. God tells us through the writing this disciple whose name was changed, in 1 Peter 2:5 "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." God wants to make us all stones built together into the temple of the church to display the character of Jesus. The part we play on earth is reflected in the new name Jesus gives us in heaven.

There was the noise as of the sound of wind – not made by the disciples but directly by the Holy Spirit itself when the disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. We can read about that in book of Acts chapter 2.

Acts 2:1 "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

2:2 "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

2:3 "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

2:4 "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

2:5 "And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

2:6 "Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

2:7 "And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

2:8 "And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

2:9 "Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

2:10 "Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

2:11 "Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

2:12 "And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

2:13 "Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine."

The disciples spoke foreign languages fluently as a result of the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. People heard and understood in their own languages what was being said of the wonderful works of God. There were no interpreters needed to explain what was being said in these different languages. Those who understood those languages could understand what was being said directly. We have the gift of tongues in our congregation. Some of us can speak Samoan. Some of us can speak Tonga. All of us (who can) can speak English. The Biblical gift of tongues is to be able to speak in different languages. The Holy Spirit always does things decently and in order.

In 1 Corthians 14:39 and 40 it says: "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order."

The last few verses of the book of Mark tells us about signs that give evidence of belief in God.

Mark 16:17 - 20 "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

"They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

"So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

"And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with [them], and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."

So in answer to the question what it means to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Scripture indicates that it means that we believe that Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to guide, comfort, and instruct me. It means that God is in control of us in all that we do because we have died to self. Sometimes we can speak in foreign languages where there is a need for it. There is no record that Jesus spake in tongues or foreign languages even though He was baptized with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the sick are healed when that is God’s will. Sometimes poison will not kill us when that is God’s will. Sometimes snake bites do not kill when that is God’s will.

There are those who say, but it is always God’s will to heal all diseases. Yes, that is true in heaven. On earth God sent the message to Hezekiah to get his life in order because his sickness was going to end in death. It was God’s will that he die and not live. We can read about this in second book of Kings.

2 Kings 20:1 "In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live."

And so the argument is that everybody is going to die at some time – so death is a different matter from disease or infirmities.

Paul prayed about his physical condition which was not unto death. We can read about that in 2 Corinthians 12:7 - 9 "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

"For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

My current understanding is that Paul’s thorn in his flesh was his poor eyesight that resulted in being blinded by the glory of Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Paul prayed that his infirmity be taken away from him. And he was told by God that the strength of God was made perfect in Paul’s weakness. So he was to keep his weakness while on earth. In heaven the old nature of Paul that he had to battle with daily will be finally dead and then the thorn in the flesh will have been removed. On earth God told Paul in effect, you need the thorn in your flesh to keep you humble and dependent upon me.

It is my current understanding that God does not heal all diseases and infirmities that we ask Him to heal because that healing would not be for our, or God’s best good. The principle is that God knows best. God knows better than we do what is best. God does only what is for our best good. We get some insight into this principle that God only does for us what is for our best eternal good in this Spirit of Prophecy passage:

"But it is not always safe to ask for unconditional healing. Let your prayer include this thought: "Lord, Thou knowest every secret of the soul. Thou art acquainted with these persons; for Jesus, their advocate, gave His life for them. He loves them better than we possibly can. If, therefore, it is for Thy glory and the good of these afflicted ones to raise them up to health, we ask Thee in the name of Jesus, that health may be given them at this time." In a petition of this kind, no lack of faith is manifested." {CH 375.1}

"Our sanitariums are to reach a class that can be reached by no other means. "Why," asks one and another, "is not prayer offered for the miraculous healing of the sick, instead of so many sanitariums being established?" Should this be done, great fanaticism would arise in our ranks. Those who have much self-confidence would start into action, as did certain ones in _____, who had a great deal to say about holy flesh. These were carried away by a spiritualistic delusion. At the General Conference in 1901 they were rebuked by a message given me for them by the Lord. Should we carry out the plans that some would be pleased to have us carry out, companies would be formed who would bring in spiritualistic manifestations that would confuse the faith of many. . . ." {Ev 594.3}

Everybody who is willing will be baptized daily with the Holy Spirit. Being baptized with the Holy Spirit means being fully, totally, daily yielded to God and His will in all things because we have died to self. Being baptized with the Holy Spirit means being able to discern God’s will in all things. It means to be able to hear the voice of God speaking to us in our minds and be willing to do God’s will rather than our own. It means that we understand and work in harmony with God’s purposes, God’s government, and to have and to manifest God’s attitude in all things. It means that we understand God’s authority in our own lives and in the affairs of the world and trust God in all things. It means that God is the center of our thoughts, hopes, aspirations and conversation. It is our belief in God that puts God inside us. It is our acting God’s will in all things that puts us inside of God in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

Summary:

Things to Believe:

1. I can and need to be daily baptized by the Holy Spirit to please God. Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.

2. It is through Holy Spirit by my belief in Him and my willingness to die to self daily, that Jesus lives in me. Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

  1. There is nothing I cannot do that is God’s will for me to do by the power of Holy Spirit. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Daily Skills to Master:

  1. Educate my mind to continually feel the presence of God.
  2. Educate my mind to continually think God’s thoughts – memorize Scripture.
  3. Educate myself to speak only God’s words.

 

Call: Those who would be willing to God’s glory to be daily baptized with the Holy Spirit.