Lesson 4: The Holy Spirit

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.

Acts 1:8

Have you ever had all the right tools to fix a problem and knew exactly how to use them but discovered that you lacked the physical power to do the job? Think about a lug nut on a car rim. Your tire is flat, you have the wrench, and you know what to do, but you aren’t strong enough to get the lug nut off the rim. Another example: Think about an adult child who is making really bad life choices. As a parent, you have all the right advice but cannot do anything about your child’s decisions. Frustrating, to say the least.

Living the Christian life without the baptism of the Holy Spirit is like trying to fix a problem that you lack the power to fix. While our knowledge of Scripture equips us for every good work (1 Timothy 3:16–17), Jesus makes it clear that we need the power of the Holy Spirit to be who He has called us to be and do what He has called us to do (Acts 1:8). In fact, Jesus emphatically encouraged His disciples not to start their ministries until they had received the Holy Spirit: “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). We need God’s power in order to effectively use His equipping.


So, who is the Holy Spirit? Take a moment to write down your initial thoughts.

As Christians, we believe that God is one God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is completely God and plays a very important role in our relationship with God. For example, the Holy Spirit is our empowerer, the one who affirms to us that we are God’s children. He is our Counselor, the one who leads us into all truth. He is our Teacher, the one who reminds us of everything Jesus taught. He is the one who convicts rather than condemns us about sin, righteousness, and judgment. He is our Helper, and when we don’t know how to pray the Holy Spirit prays for us with utterings and groanings that cannot be expressed in words. He is the one who gives us a mind-set that brings life and peace rather than death, and He is the one who remains with us always. (See John 14:15–27; 16:5–15; Acts 1:8; Romans 8:1–30.)

The Holy Spirit is also a free gift. That’s right! In the world, we would have to pay to see a counselor, employ a teacher, etc., but we don’t have to pay for or earn the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. Because we are God’s sons and daughters, He will freely give us the Holy Spirit; we just have to ask and receive. In the book of Acts, Peter explained to eager people what they had to do: “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God” (Acts 2:38–39).

You may ask, “If the baptism of the Holy Spirit is so great, why does God not make Him available to everyone, even to people who do not believe in Jesus?” Think for a moment about an illustration that Jesus used to explain why the Spirit is available only to those who are children of God. In biblical days, wineskins were leather bags used to ferment wine. As the liquid fermented, the bag would expand. If new wine was put into an old wineskin that had already expanded, the bag would burst and the wine would be wasted. Jesus said that no one would ever put new wine into old wineskins. Instead, Jesus emphasized that new wine must be put into new wineskins. Jesus was talking about the born again experience. When we are saved, we are like new wineskins, ready to receive the new wine of the Holy Spirit.

Peter and the other disciples followed Jesus’ command and waited for the Holy Spirit in the upper room. In Acts 2:1–4, we see what transpired: “On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.”

Can you imagine this from Jesus’ viewpoint? All He had accomplished in His earthly ministry was now being fulfilled in the lives of the few believers who had put their faith in Him. Think about how excited Jesus must have been to pour out the Holy Spirit as prophesied in Joel 2:28–29 in the Old Testament: “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.”

Imagine how excited God is right now to fill you with the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not come so that you could try harder to do better. No! He came so that you could have abundant life. He came to give you spiritual gifts that would build your faith and the faith of others. Gifts like a message of wisdom or knowledge. Gifts of faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. However, to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, you must repent, be saved, ask for the Holy Spirit, and receive Him in faith. The initial experience may differ from person to person. Some receive when someone lays hands on them and prays, others receive while worshiping in a corporate worship setting, and still others receive while they are alone.

Why don’t you take time right now to ask God to baptize you in the Holy Spirit? Receive in faith as the Father fills you, and as He fills you, begin to praise Him for the gift of His Spirit. Before finishing this lesson, spend some time praising Him.

One final thought: You cannot base the rest of your Christian life on only one experience with God, no matter how powerful that one experience is. You were created for an ongoing relationship with God. While the baptism of the Holy Spirit may be a powerful initial experience, you are meant to consistently be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and to walk in line with Him (Galatians 5). As your life is controlled by the Spirit and as you follow His leading, you will see the fruit of the Holy Spirit evidenced in your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. The beauty of this fruit is that they are not based upon your works. Rather, they are based upon the work of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Welcome to a new life with God’s Spirit. You are never going to be the same!

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