Today we reach the fifth of my correspondent’s questions. It is, in many ways, the most admirable and crucial of all of them.
Having not been baptized by the Spirit, what would you recommend that I do now?
I began to answer this question in some ways in my previous Ask The Blogger post. In essence, the critical thing is to begin to desire this and to seek the experience God has for you. Of course, in order to desire this, you have to be convinced that it is from God, and that it is for you. I would advise some careful study of the Bible texts, focusing on Ephesians 1, Romans 5, Romans 8, Luke 11, and the whole book of Acts. As with salvation, faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Until you are convinced in your mind, your prayer will be half-hearted.
James 1:5-8 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
We could easily substitute for the word wisdom there, the words “the Holy Spirit.”
Fear is a common barrier to truly faith-filled asking. We worry that what we will receive will not be from God. The parable in Luke speaks of how the good father will give good gifts to his children. That is a very helpful place to go for prolonged meditation to ease one’s doubts on this matter. God often tells his people in the Bible not to fear when he reveals himself to them. As his children we have nothing to fear from him.
Since faith comes by HEARING the Word of God, I would also like to strongly encourage you to LISTEN to helpful teaching on this subject, ideally in a face-to-face environment. If you are not near a good church where you can go to hear such teaching, and are not able to get to a conference like Together On a Mission, I very strongly recommend Terry Virgo’s talk on “Receiving the Spirit.” This was linked on the first day of this series.
Ultimately, if you do not experience a filling of the Spirit from simply asking, it is perhaps time to humbly seek out a godly believer who can lay hands on you and pray for you that you might be filled. Don’t set yourself up for a disappointment, however, by asking for such prayer until you are convinced that an experience is available and that you are qualified for that experience. Many people think they need to somehow “earn” the Holy Spirit. The truth is, all believers are qualifed. As Peter says in Acts 2, the promise for EVERYONE who God has called. So if you are called, the promise is availble for you. It is as if a check has already been written and signed by God and is now waiting to be cashed.