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How To Succeed In The Christian Life
Lesson Four

by R. A. Torrey

Receiving The Holy Spirit

When the Apostle Paul came to Ephesus, he found a little group of twelve disciples of Christ.  There was something about these twelve disciples that struck Paul unfavourably.  We are not told what it was.  It may be that he did not find in them that overflowing joyfulness that one learns to expect in all Christians who have really entered into the fulness of blessing that there is for them in Christ.  It may be that Paul was troubled at the fact that there were only twelve of them, thinking that if these twelve were what they ought to be, there would certainly have been more than twelve of them by this time.  

Whatever it may have been that impressed Paul unfavourably, he went right to the root of the difficulty at once by putting to them the question.

"Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" [Acts 19:2, R.V.].  

It came out at once that they had not received the Holy Spirit, that in fact they did not know that the Holy Spirit had been given.  Then Paul told them that the Holy Spirit had been given, and also showed them just what they must do to receive the Holy Spirit then and there, and before that gathering was over the Holy Spirit came upon them.  From that day on there was a different state of affairs in Ephesus.  A great revival sprang up at once so that the whole city was shaken,

"So mightily grew the Word of God and prevailed" [Acts 19:20].  

Paul's question to these young disciples in Ephesus should be put to young disciples everywhere, {%FirstName%}.  "Have you received the Holy Spirit?"  In receiving the Holy Spirit is the great secret of joyfulness in our own hearts, of victory over sin, of power in prayer, and of effective service.

Everyone who has truly received Jesus must have the Holy Spirit dwelling in him in some sense; but in many believers, though the Holy Spirit dwells in them, He dwells way back in some hidden sanctuary of their being, back of consciousness.  It is something quite different, something far better than this, to receive the Holy Spirit in the sense that Paul meant in his question.  To received the Holy Spirit in such a sense that one knows experimentally that he has received the Holy Spirit, to receive the Holy Spirit in such a sense that we are conscious of the joy with which He fills our hearts different from any joy that we have ere known in the world; to receive the Holy Spirit in such a sense that He rules our life and produces within us in ever-increasing measure the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; to receive the Holy Spirit in such a sense that we are conscious of His drawing our hearts out in prayer in a way that is not of ourselves, to receive the Holy Spirit in such a sense that we are conscious of His help when we witness for Christ, when we speak to others individually and try to lead them to accept Christ, or when we teach a Sunday-school class, or speak in public, or do any other work for the Master.  Have you received the Holy Spirit?  If you have not, let me tell you how you may.

[Editor Note:  Numbers 2, 3 and 4 may come as a result of receiving the Holy Spirit.  We have to be careful against thinking we can deserve the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  To be baptized with the Holy Spirit we must be saved, must ask in faith and be willing to receive.  In some cases, the baptism of the Holy Spirit came by the laying on of hands by church leadership.]

1.  First of all in order to receive the Holy Spirit, one must be resting in the death of Christ on the cross for us as the sole and all-sufficient ground upon which God pardons all our sins and forgives us.

2.  In order to receive the Holy Spirit we must put away every known sin.  We should go to our heavenly Father and ask Him to search us through and through and bring to light anything in our life, our outward life or our inward life, that is wrong in His sight, and if He does bring anything to light that is displeasing to Him, we should put it away, no matter how dear it is to us.  There must be a complete renunciation of all sin in order to receive the Holy Spirit.

3.  In the third place, in order to receive the Holy Spirit, there must be an open confession of Christ before the world.  The Holy Spirit is not given to those who are trying to be disciples in secret, but to those who obey Christ and publicly confess Him before the world.

4.  In the fourth place, in order to receive the Holy Spirit, there must be an absolute surrender of our lives to God.  You must go to Him and say, "Heavenly Father, here I am.  You have bought me with a price.  I am Your property.  I renounce all claim to do my own will, all claim to govern my own life, all claim to have my own way.  I give myself up unreservedly to You - all I am and all I have.  Send me where You will, use me as You will, do with me what You will - I am Yours."  If we hold anything back from God, no matter how small it may seem, that spoils it all.  But if we surrender all to God, then God will give all that He has to us.  There are some who shrink from this absolute surrender to God, but absolute surrender to God is simply absolute surrender to infinite love.  Surrender to the Father, to the Father whose love is not only wiser that any earthly father's, but more tender than any earthly mother's.

5.  In order to receive the Holy Spirit there should be definite asking for the Holy Spirit.  Our Lord Jesus says in Luke 11:13,

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?"

Just ask God to give you the Holy Spirit and expect Him to do it, because He says He will.

6.  Last of all, in order to receive the Holy Spirit, there must be faith, simply taking God at His Word.  No matter how positive any promise of God's Word may be, we enjoy it personally only when we believe.  Our Lord Jesus says,

"All things whatsoever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received them, and you shall have them" [Mark 11:24, R.V.].  

When you pray for the Holy Spirit you have prayed for something [in this case Someone] according to God's will and therefore you may know that your prayer is heard and that you may have what you asked of Him [1 John 5:14-15].  You may feel no different, but do not look at your feelings but at God's promise.  Believe the prayer is heard, believe that God has given you the Holy Spirit and you will afterward have in actual experience what you have received in simple faith on the bare promise of God's Word.

It is well to go often alone and kneel down and look up to the Holy Spirit and put into His hands anew the entire control of your life.  Ask Him to take control of your thoughts, the control of your imagination, the control of your affections, the control of your desires, the control of your ambitions, the control of your choices, the control of your purposes, the control of your words, the control of your actions, the control of everything, and just expect Him to do it.  The whole secret of victory in the Christian life is letting the Holy Spirit who dwells within you, have undisputed right of way in the entire conduct of your life.

[Editor note:  While what is said above is very true we must guard against a "let go and let God" attitude which expects God to do everything and we are responsible for nothing.  The Bible is very clear that the Christian life is a struggle - a warfare.  The Holy Spirit will provide everything we need from strength to wisdom, but we still have to choose to use it and stand in faith against all obstacles.  The children of Israel were given the Promised Land on God's promise, but they still had to fight to take it.]

Feed Yourself Assignments


These assignments assume the student has completed the Feed Yourself course.

1.  Memorize Luke 11:13.
2.  Look up in your Bible each Scripture reference mentioned in this lesson - even the ones that are quoted.
3.  Do a subject study on the Holy Spirit as mentioned in the Gospels and the Book of Acts.

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