TWENTY-FOUR YEARS AGO I was sitting in my office on St. Kilda Road, Melbourne, Australia, with one dollar to my name. I had been searching for meaning and purpose all my life through many different religions, denominations, and lifestyles. That night I cried out to God in tears to reveal Himself to me and to tell me where His true church was. Two weeks later, while I was walking on Bondi Beach in Sydney, some young people gave me a book on the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation and their predictions about the kingdoms of the world until the end of time. I was challenged by what I read, and eventually I was led to receive Bible studies from a local Adventist pastor in Victoria. I became convinced that what I was learning was true, and six months later I was baptized.
I joined a local Adventist church that was mostly lukewarm. I sat in the pews weekly, paid my tithe when it was convenient, and even studied my Sabbath School lesson occasionally. There were very few victories over the besetting sins in my life. I prayed and read the Bible occasionally but never led one person to Jesus in 12 years. I thought I was OK because I was in God’s remnant last-day church. I didn’t realize that I was in Laodicea.
PRAYING FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT
It took another crisis for God to get my attention. I left the church for about a year, but I knew in my heart that the Adventist Church was God’s last-day church, as described in prophecy. I started attending services again, but then something amazing happened. I reluctantly went to a revival weekend focusing on our need for the Holy Spirit. I hadn’t previously heard much about the Holy Spirit from the pulpit, apart from the dangers of the counterfeit. The presenter for the weekend, Pastor Dennis Smith from the United States, challenged us to study about this wonderful gift, for which Jesus had prayed to His Father in John 14:16.
I began reading Pastor Smith’s 40-day devotional book, which challenged me to ask daily for the Holy Spirit. Initially I thought I had already received the Holy Spirit and that it was a one-time filling when I was baptized in water. But as I read the book of Acts and also Ephesians 5:18, where Paul commanded us to be filled with the Spirit or to “let yourself be continually and repeatedly refilled with the Spirit” (Johannes Mager), I came to a new understanding. After that, everything changed for me. I had a greater desire to pray, a greater desire to read God’s Word and the writings of Ellen White, a greater desire to witness and lead people to Jesus, and even a desire to preach about the things I had learned. The Holy Spirit also put a new desire in my heart for lifestyle changes, and, as Jesus promised, He began to give me victories over the besetting sins in my life. I could relate to Paul, who said about himself, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31).
I remember a friend of mine saying that Satan can counterfeit the gifts of the Holy Spirit but not the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23; Ephesians 5:9). I believe that we as Seventh-day Adventists must focus on receiving the true daily baptism of the Holy Spirit of Christ. When we do this, the Spirit’s fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, righteousness, goodness, and so forth will be seen in the lives of God’s people and the church.
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
Adventists have been preaching for more than 150 years about our need for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit in order to share the three angels’ messages of the everlasting gospel in power. But the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy plainly tell us that unless we grow into the likeness of Jesus through the early rain of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18) and are transformed into His image from glory to glory—which has been available since Pentecost—the latter rain will not fall, and many of us will miss out.
Seventh-day Adventists have been given the last message for the world, and we all want to go home to heaven—but we have work to do. Just like the early disciples, we need the power of the Holy Spirit in order to witness and finish the work: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8, NKJV). It always amazes me when I read what Jesus said in John 14:12, that we will do the same works as Jesus. He then goes on to explain that He and the Father will dwell with us and in us through the Holy Spirit so we will be able to do the same works that He did.
I believe God is preparing us now to receive the true earlyrain daily baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27, NKJV), to prepare us for the latter rain and the harvest. We have a choice: we can either be like the wise virgins of Matthew 25 who had extra oil in their lamps and vessels—or like the foolish virgins who missed out on this blessing out of fear of being deceived by Satan’s counterfeit spiritual activities or by their Laodicean attitude of “I’m OK and in need of nothing.” We must trust God’s Spirit and His Word to guide us into the truth of the Spirit’s working. For seven years now, I have been praying daily for the promises in God’s Word, and everything has changed!
Download for free Baptism of the Holy Spirit: A 10 Day Devotional Study by Dennis Smith at http://youth.adventist.org/books
PROMISES TO PRAY FOR RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT
Luke 11:13: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Acts 5:32: “And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
John 7:37: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.”
John 7:38, 39: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.”
Galatians 5:16: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
Ephesians 3:16, 17, 19: “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith: that you, being rooted and grounded in love . . . may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 5:18: “Be filled with the Spirit” or “let yourself be continually and repeatedly refilled with the Spirit” (Johannes Mager, Auf den Spuren des Heiligen Geistes, Lüneburg, 1999, Seite 101).
Acts 1:8: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me.”
Texts compiled by Helmut Haubeil, Steps to Personal Revival, pp. 83-85. All texts NKJV.