If you 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!

– Luke 11:13

 

There are few things sadder than an unopened gift left under the Christmas Tree after Christmas. This time of year it’s easy to get caught up in the getting and the wrapping and the opening of gifts, gifts, gifts. But there’s one gift that maybe you haven’t considered. There’s one gift that maybe you will leave unopened under the Tree this year. I pray you won’t forget the gift of the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus met with the woman at the well and entered into conversation with her, at one point He said, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (John 4:10). Later in John’s gospel Jesus again refers to “living water,” and associates it with the Holy Spirit. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of His heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37). John then explains, “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:38). Well, Jesus has been glorified and the Holy Spirit has been given, now it is just a matter of asking for Him (Acts 1 and 2).

We can be confident that if we ask God for the Holy Spirit, He will be given to us. Jesus said, “If you 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!” (Luke 11;13). Have you asked the Father for the Holy Spirit this Christmas?

Maybe you’re frazzled with all the decorating, lists, shopping, organizing, cooking, cookies, get-togethers, cleaning, and all the trimmings of Christmas. Yes, it’s Christmas time again and I’d like to ask you, “Do you know the gift and gifts of God that are offered at Christmas?” To know the gifts of Christmas that God gives is like a long refreshing, reviving gulp from the fountain of His living waters. There are many gifts associated with Christmas. Jesus of course is the greatest of these gifts of God. But there are others that we should unwrap and be blessed by.

A Holy Heritage Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38). Matthew and Luke include genealogies that link the Old and New Testament. The genealogies show Jesus messianic family line. That genealogy is also part of our family heritage through Jesus. And when you look at that heritage you see people like Tamar (Matthew 1:3; Genesis 38), Rahab (Matthew 1:5; Joshua 2:1; Hebrews 11:31), Ruth (Matthew 1:5; Ruth), and Bethsheba (Matthew 1:6; 2 Samuel 11), people who had less then reputable histories. Yet they were included in the family list of Jesus. What does that tell us? It tells us that even though we may come from a less than stellar, sinful background, God can and will use us if we trust Him. That’s an encouraging Christmas message. God doesn’t throw people away; He redeems them and gives them a purpose in life.

The Holy Scriptures (Matthew 1:22-25; Luke 2:36-38).  Christmas and the birth of Jesus is a fulfillment of prophecy. This reminds us that there is no Book like our Bible. No other book is as dependable and true and miraculously prophetic as the Bible we hold in our hand. The Bible is as true and certain as Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection. God’s word, inspired, consistent, archeologically evidenced, and protected throughout history, is a great gift to us from God. Through His word God reveals Himself and shows us the way to know Him (e.g. John 17:3; John 3:16).

Hunting for a King (Matthew 2:1-6). The wise men from the East were hunting for the King of the Jews (Messiah). Perhaps they were following through on some of Daniel’s prophecy. But they were searching for a king like no other, a King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus. How about you, is Jesus your King? Someday Jesus will sit enthroned in Jerusalem and rule. Will you rule with Him? (cf. Revelation 20).

Hate (Matthew 2:7-18). How on earth is “hate” a gift of God? Herod was jealous of his position and sought to find and murder Jesus. Today many of those who celebrate the birth of Jesus are hatefully hunted down, persecuted, and murdered. Persecution is an opportunity to stand with and confess Jesus no matter what (Matthew 10:32-33 – confess or deny Jesus?). Our confession is evidence of our salvation (Romans 10:8-9). Persecution is an opportunity to demonstrate the genuineness of our faith and glorify Jesus (e.g. 1 Peter 1:6-9). That’s a profound gift of God.

Home. When Herod died an angel told Joseph it was safe to return to Jerusalem, but because of safety reasons they settled their home in Nazareth. Nazareth was a bad neighborhood and later a disciple named Nathaniel remarked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). This tells us, it’s not where you come from but Who you know and where you’re going with Him that are important (Matthew 2:19-23). Home with Jesus is a wonderful warm gift from God. He stands at the door of your heart-home and waits for your invitation to come in (Revelation 3:20). That’s a wonderful gift.

“How can this be?” Christmas is for those who doubt. It’s a time to present God’s revelation and reality to them and to shut their mouths with God’s truth and powerful fulfillment (Luke 1:1-25). Christmas is a time where God shouts to a sinful world, “There is nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). That truth is a great gift from Almighty God.

Wholly surrendered. Mary shows us God will use people wholly surrendered to Him. The eyes of the Lord run too and fro throughout the earth looking to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). How’s your heart, loyal to the LORD?  Surrender to Him. Remain loyal to Him, and He will be strong in and through you (Luke 1:26-38, 46-56).

Hunger for Salvation. Christmas is for those hungering for salvation, let’s give them Jesus. Jesus came to redeem the lost. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. The lost don’t even know they are in danger. The lost don’t even know they need Jesus. if you don’t know Jesus personally as Savior, you need to. If you know Jesus personally as your Savior, you need to help others know Him too. Let’s be used by God and tell the world about the greatest gift, Jesus! (Luke 1:67-80; 2:25-35).

Glory in the Highest. Even dirty shepherds praised God for the coming of Jesus. Everyone rejoices when they see (truly see) Jesus (Luke 2:1-20). What a great gift of God to experience His eternal life through faith in Jesus and worship and glorify Him. Don’t forget to glorify God this Christmas.

Don’t forget the gift of the Holy Spirit. Christmas is about a work of the Holy Spirit who broke and bypassed religious and cultural traditions (mores) and worked through a forgiving husband and surrendered wife to make Himself known to a lost and darkly depraved world (Matthew 1:18-21; Luke 1:39-45).

The Church in our day is the one last bastion of hope for this dying decrepit and sinfully perverted world. But the Church is too often not what it should be in order to serve her Groom Jesus. The Church is too often anemic, ill-equipped, lost, confused, a dollar short and an hour late to what is going on in this world. What’s the problem? Too often today churches, even so-called “good” churches, are missing an essential ingredient, the Holy Spirit. We have left the gift of the Spirit unwrapped under our Christmas trees.

A.W. Tozer once said:

“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”

Jesus is foundational, He is the greatest gift of God no doubt. But if it weren’t for the Holy Spirit we wouldn’t know that. THE HOLY SPIRIT REVEALS TO US EVERYTHING WE KNOW ABOUT JESUS, GOD’S TRUTH, THE GOSPEL, OURSELVES. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE ONE ESSENTIAL. WE CAN’T AFFORD TO LEAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT UNWRAPPED UNDER THE TREE OF LIFE. WE NEED THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

Jesus said the Holy Spirit is “another” (Greek allos – i.e. another os the same kind) just like Jesus:

John 14:15–17 (NKJV) – 15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

Jesus said the Holy Spirit teaches in His name (or like Jesus would teach):

John 14:26 (NKJV) – 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

Jesus said the Holy Spirit testifies of Him or shines the light on Jesus:

John 15:26 (NKJV) – 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.

Jesus passes the baton to the Holy Spirit who exposes sin in sinners and convicts them that they need of a Savior, and how to be saved from sin via the gospel:

John 16:7–11 (NKJV) – Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

Jesus said the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth:

John 16:13–15 (NKJV) – 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

Notice, Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit, not as a force or energy, but as a Person. In this time of cultural focus on personal pronouns we would be wise to recognize the “He,” and “Him” of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit is God. He is referred to as God in scripture (e.g. Acts 5:1-4). He is part of the Trinitarian baptismal confession of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). The Holy Spirit is God.

The gift of the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost when the hearers of his message were convicted of their sins and asked, “What shall we do?” Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37-38). And Peter added for us, “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39).

Later when the Church was expanding, the Jewish believers in Jesus were astonished that “the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also” (Acts 10:44-45). The Holy Spirit is a gift from God to be received by us. But why should we and how can we receive the Holy Spirit?

Why Do We Need the Holy Spirit? Why do we need the Holy Spirit? We need the Holy Spirit because Jesus says we need Him to be born again; born of the Spirit. Just as we are physically born, we need to be spiritually born (John 3). Without the Holy Spirit indwelling us, we have no spiritual life! We need the Holy Spirit because Jesus said we need the Holy Spirit to serve Him and be witnesses for Him and to fulfill His Divine plans in this world to His glory (Acts 1:4-5 and 8; 2:1ff). We need the Holy Spirit because Jesus said without the Holy Spirit you don’t even know you are living in sin and need salvation (John 16:8-11). We need the Holy Spirit because without the Holy Spirit you can’t understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:9-14). We need the Holy Spirit because without the Holy Spirit you can’t serve the Lord properly (e.g. spiritual gifting Romans 12; 1 Cor. 12-14; Ephesians 4). We need the Holy Spirit because without the Holy Spirit you will be a weak Christian and unable to live victoriously (Ephesians 5:18-21). And we need the Holy Spirit because we need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6; Acts 1:8; Romans 8). We need the Holy Spirit! Don’t leave Him unwrapped under your Tree!

How Do We Know We Have the Holy Spirit? What are the signs, the evidence that we have the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit has us? We have the Holy Spirit in proportion to the love we have toward others (Romans 5:5). When we have the Holy Spirit we will be spiritually fruitful (Galatians 5:22-24). When we have the Holy Spirit we will exhibit spiritual gifting, i.e. supernatural enablement provided by the Spirit above and beyond natural abilities or talents (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4). If you have the Holy Spirit you will be changed from your sinful life to an ever-increasing holy life. To be “holy” is to be uncommon, set apart for God’s use. To be “holy” is to be unlike the common fallen world and its sinful people. In one of the greatest chapters in the Bible, Romans 8, a chapter about living in the Spirit, we are told that the Spirit helps us when we are weak, and that the Spirit’s aim is to conform us to the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29). The Holy Spirit gives us life and makes us holy.

How Can We Receive the Holy Spirit? If fallen humanity knows how to gift those they love, how much more will God gift us with the Holy Spirit? (Luke 11:13). All we need to do is ask. But God has also stipulated criteria for us to receive the Holy Spirit. We need to repent of our sins and trust in Jesus as Savior (Acts 2:38-39). We need to be Born Again by receiving God’s gift of forgiveness and salvation from sin by faith in Jesus (John 3). Then we will be indwelled by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). All of this is a gift of God received by faith in jesus (Acts 15:8-9).

Romans 8 – The Spirit-filled Life. Some have said that Romans 8 is the pinnacle of Scripture. Romans 8 is a picture of how we should live as Christians. The following are assertions and statements of faith to convey the attitude of the Spirit-filled Christian.

  1. I am no longer condemned by God – The Spirit-filled believer by faith in Christ knows they are no longer under God’s condemnation – 8:1a.
  2. I listen to, rely on, and follow the Spirit not the flesh – The Spirit-filled believer is led by the Spirit not the sinful self-centered flesh – 8:1b-6.
  3. I live to please God – The Spirit-filled believer is no longer at war with God and lives to please God as they follow the leading of the Spirit. Those who live by their flesh (sin nature) cannot please God – 8:7-8.
  4. I am spiritually alive; I have been born again – The Spirit-filled believer has been born again; regenerated; the indwelling of the Spirit gives them eternal spiritual life. This is the result of repentance (turning from sin) and trusting in Jesus as Savior and following Him as Lord (cf. John 3) – 8:9-11.
  5. I have a secure relationship with God in Christ by the Spirit – By the Spirit we put to death our old dead ways and relate to God as our “Abba” or Daddy – 8:12-14
  6. I am not fearful of death – We need not fear death because we have been adopted into God’s eternal family. The Spirit in me assures me of this – 8:15-16.
  7. I overcome suffering with faithful thoughts of God’s future for me – Earthly suffering doesn’t compare with God has prepared for us in glory – 8:17-25.
  8. I am strong in the Spirit – The Holy Spirit helps us when we are weak through a Spirit influenced prayer life – 8:26-27.
  9. I am confident that God can bring good from anything in my life – For those who love God, there is always hope that God will fulfill His greater purposes – 8:28
  10. I have a life purpose from God; to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus – God’s ultimate purpose for me is to make me like Jesus – 8:29-30
  11. I am not rattled by my enemies because God has my back – God is for us – 8:31.
  12. I am confident that God will provide for all my needs – If God didn’t spare His only Son Jesus, He will provide everything else I need – 8:32.
  13. I am secure in all circumstances because Jesus is praying for me – Jesus is interceding for us right now – 8:33-34.
  14. I am secure in God’s love – Nothing can separate us from God’s love – 8:35-36.
  15. I am certain of victory – We are more than a conqueror in Christ; we know the final outcome; we know we win with Him in the end – 8:37-39.

This is what the Spirit-filled life looks like. Do these assertions describe you? Do you have the Holy Spirit?

The Necessity and Possibility of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. The disciples had been to school with Jesus, the greatest Teacher, for three years. They saw Him heal the blind, lame and even lepers. They saw Him feed thousands with only a few morsels. They saw Him walk on water and still the storm. They saw Him die on the cross and rise from the dead and even ascend to heaven. They were given the Great Commission. Yet they were told by Jesus to “tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” or baptized with the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49). Education and training are not enough to serve effectively and to the glory of God. We NEED to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and His power to serve.

Jesus was anointed with the power of the Spirit before He began His ministry (Acts 10:38; Luke 3:21, 22). After the Spirit (in the form of a dove) descended on Jesus, He resisted the temptations of the devil (Luke 4:1-13) and later declared the Spirit of God was upon Him to preach (Luke 4:14-21). Jesus was empowered by the Spirit to minister. We are to follow in His steps (1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Jn. 2:6).

The necessity of being empowered by the Spirit is supported by men like R.A. Torrey, a saint who ministered with D.L. Moody and other great godly servants of the past. It’s always good to take note of the example of those God used mightily in history. Torrey insisted it is better to “tarry” or wait for the baptism with the Holy Spirit before we try to serve in our own anemic strength. This follows the principle laid out for us by Jesus who instructed the first disciples to wait for the empowering fo the Spirit before they tried to minister in the name of Jesus. In our own strength we will misrepresent God as weak and failing. While if we wait, “When the power came [on the apostles and disciples] they would have accomplished more in one day than they would have accomplished in years if they had gone on in presumptuous disobedience to Christ’s charge. We also, after we have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, will accomplish more in one day than we ever would in years without His power.” [1]

Torrey goes on to speak of the serious implications of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. “But that unspeakable joyous thought has its solemn side. If I may be baptized with the Holy Spirit, I must be. If I am baptized with the Holy Spirit., then will souls be saved through my instrumentality who would not be saved if I were not so baptized. If then I am not willing to pay the price of this baptism, and therefore ma not so baptized, I am responsible before God for all the souls that might have been saved but were not saved through me.” [2] Don’t rely on your own “persuasive words of human wisdom.” But minister “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4).

How the Baptism with the Holy Spirit Can Be Obtained. R.A. Torrey provides us with Seven Simple Steps to Receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. He bases his Seven Steps for the most part on Acts 2:38 – Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  I summarize these steps here in the hope that it will help us to unwrap the gift of the Spirit this Christmas.

  1. Repent – Change your mind about Christ. Context showed people “cut to the heart” and convicted about their role in crucifying Jesus. Change from a Christ-crucifying attitude to a Christ-accepting attitude. Accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. You must be born again (Jn. 3:1-7) and regenerated (Titus 3:4-7) by the Spirit before or concurrent with (Acts 10:44-45) the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Jesus must be received as Savior and Lord (Rom. 10:9-10; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9).
  2. Repent – Renounce all sin. There must be a change of mind about sin from a sin-loving or sin-indulging attitude to a sin-hating, sin-renouncing attitude (1 John 2:1-6; 3:6-9).  Ask God to do a deep search of your heart (Psalm 139:23-24). Don’t be quick to think there is no sin in you (1 Jn. 1:8, 10). But if He doesn’t bring anything to mind, move on (Rom. 8:1-2). That which is not from faith is sin (Rom. 14:23; cf. also Ps. 66:18; Is. 59:2; Hab. 1:13). “Walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16).
  3. Openly Confess Renunciation of Sin – “Baptism” – is a symbol of humility and open confession of our sin and renouncing of it (1 Jn. 1:9). God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (Ps. 51:17; 1 Pet. 5:6).
  4. Obey – Acts 5:32. Obedience means total surrender to the will of God. Obedience is an attitude of the will praying: “Heavenly Father, here I am and all I have. You have bought me with a price, and I acknowledge Your absolute ownership. Take me and all I have and do with me whatsoever You will. Send me where You want; [keep me where You want]; use me as You will. I surrender myself and all I possess absolutely, unconditionally, forever to Your control and use.” E.g. like a burnt offering – Lev. 9:24; compare with Rom. 12:1-2). [3] Don’t hold back from total surrender due to fear of what God will do with you. God loves us and will only do what is best for us (Ps. 84:11; Rom. 8:31-32). Manifestation by the Spirit is according to the Spirit’s will and for the profit of all (1 Cor. 12:6-7).
  5. Sincere intense desire for the Baptism with the Holy Spirit – Luke 11:13; e.g. Thirst – Is. 44:3. Have pure motives: not to build you up or bring attention to you or serve your purposes, but only to glorify God – even if it means you serve in obscurity. E.g. Acts 8:18-24.
  6. Ask in prayer– “definitely asking for a definite blessing”[4] – Luke 11:13.
  7. “Believe that you receive” – Ask in faith without wavering – Mark 11:24; James 1:5-6; Heb. 4:6; 11:6 – E.g. Property deed: you gain property in two steps – First you sign the papers; then you actually step on the property. Similarly, we pray for the baptism with the Holy Spirit, but the manifestation and power may not be evident until we step out and serve. If we know and believe that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is God’s will, then we can ask confidently and receive in faith (1 John 5:14-15).

The greatest Christmas gift is Jesus. We know that truth and we can know Jesus, only by the work of the Holy Spirit. That is grace. Receive Jesus as your Savior by faith. Then the Holy Spirit will indwell you and begin His holy work in you. You will never be the same once that work of God begins in you. You will never regret that either. The gift of the Holy Spirit is right here for you to unwrap. I pray this Christmas you receive all of God’s gifts for you, especially the gift of the Holy Spirit.

[1] R.A. Torrey, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Pub. 1972). Pgs. 31-32

[2] R.A. Torrey, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Pub. 1972). Pg. 35

[3] R.A. Torrey, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Pub. 1972). Pg. 44

[4] R.A. Torrey, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Pub. 1972). Pg. 51

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