Central Truth: The formula of faith in action can apply to receiving the Holy Spirit just as it does to receiving any of God’s gifts.
In the previous lesson, we talked about how faith is an act, it is putting God’s Word into practice. Many miracles of healing have come about as people have acted on their faith, stepped out on God’s promises, and received from God. The same thing applies to receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. In order to receive this mighty endowment of God’s power, we must also step out in faith and lay claim to the promise of the Father.
The Gift of the Holy Spirit Already Given
1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.
As we study the Book of Acts we notice that after the Day of Pentecost, the disciples always asked believers the question, “Have you received the Holy Ghost?” They didn’t say, “Has God given you the Holy Ghost?” God is not going to give you the Holy Ghost. As far as He is concerned, He already has. It is up to you to receive. It is something, which you do yourself.
Some say, “I just wish it were as simple and easy to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as you make it sound.” But just how hard is it to receive a gift? If a man were to ask me for a book which I held, I would hand it to him. I would be giving him a gift of the book. But suppose he were then to start crying and begging, “Please, oh please, Brother Hagin, please give it to me!” Of course, people would think he was crazy. They would wonder why he didn’t just reach out and take it.
Spiritual things are just as real as material things. God offers us the gift of the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to cry and beg for it. God says, “Here is the gift of the Holy Ghost. If you are born again, you can receive now. You don’t have to wait, you’re ready now to receive the Holy Ghost.” “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). We have His promise in the Word. Faith is acting on the Word.
During a meeting, which I was conducting in a town in Texas, a lady came forward for prayer to receive the Holy Spirit. I laid hands on her and prayed, the Holy Ghost came upon her, but she wouldn’t respond. I laid hands on her a second time and prayed, but again she wouldn’t respond. I opened my Bible to Acts 2:4 and asked her to read that verse of scripture aloud. She read, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
“Who does that scripture say did the speaking in tongues?” I asked.
“It says the Holy Ghost did,” she answered.
I told her to read it again until finally after reading it four times she saw what she had missed before. Astonished, she looked at me and said, “Why, they did the speaking in tongues! I had always thought that the Holy Ghost did the speaking.”
Then I said, “Let’s read several other scriptures and not take just this one,” and I pointed her to Acts 10:44-46, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all of them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.”
We then turned to Acts 19:6, “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.”
“Now I want to ask you a question,” I said. “When I laid hands on you earlier, did the Holy Ghost come upon you? Did you feel the power of God upon you?”
“Absolutely,” she said.
“Did your tongue want to say something that wasn’t English?” I asked.
“Why,” she said, “it was all I could do to keep from it.”
“You’re not supposed to keep from it,” I said, “you’re supposed to cooperate with it.” Some people seem to think that they are supposed to fight against that urge as long as they can and finally be overpowered by the Spirit. When the Holy Ghost gives you utterance, you must have faith to act.
Sometime ago I was talking to a fellow who had been tarrying for some fifteen years. He said, “You can’t tell me one thing about tarrying. I know all about seeking God.” He knew all about seeking but nothing about receiving. And there is a great deal of difference between the two.
A minister friend of mine told me about a man who said to him, “I’ve been seeking the Holy Ghost for nineteen years.” The minister replied, “You haven’t done any such thing. Jesus said, ‘Seek and ye shall find’ (Matthew 7:7). If you had been seeking, you would have found. All you’ve been doing is just hanging around the altar.” It seems that this is all that many are doing, just hanging around the altar. It’s time to quit hanging around and start acting on the Word of God, for faith is acting.
The Gift of the Holy Spirit a Spiritual Experience
I Corinthians 14:14
14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.
Receiving the Holy Spirit is a spiritual experience, not a mental or physical experience. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in your spirit and your body becomes the temple of the Holy Ghost. The reason your body becomes the temple of the Holy Ghost is that your body is the temple or house of your own spirit. The Holy Spirit is dwelling in your spirit. You cannot contact God with your mind. God is not a mind. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man …” which means that He is not a physical being. He is a spirit.
Notice that He is not “spirit,” but He is “a spirit.” The word “spirit” to many people means an influence or an atmosphere. But God is not spirit. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit …” (John 4:24). He is a divine personality. We cannot contact God with our minds; we cannot contact Him with our bodies. We contact God with our spirits for He is a spirit. And this is where many people have difficulty in trying to receive the Holy Spirit. They try to receive the Holy Spirit mentally or physically. They want a physical experience, but it is a spiritual experience. The only physical part of it is the actual speaking in tongues. He will give you utterance, but that utterance comes out of your spirit and you speak the words.
Paul said, “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful” (I Corinthians 14:14). The Amplified translation reads, “My spirit by the Holy Spirit within me prays.” In other words, it is the holy Spirit within you that gives you the ability to speak with other tongues.
Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). He comes in to live and dwell in you, and you must learn to respond to Him. He will give you the utterance. Many people fail here because they rely on their natural senses – what they can see, hear, or feel. They will not believe that they have the Holy Ghost until they speak with tongues. However, you believe and receive the Holy Ghost first, then you speak with tongues as a result of having received.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost …” (Acts 2:4). Notice that this scripture says they were filled. Then, after they were filled, they began to speak with other tongues. This is the very thing that many people stumble over. They want to talk in tongues first and then believe that they have the Holy Ghost. But you have to believe first. In order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, just as to receive anything from God, you have to step out in faith, putting your faith to work. Then you will have faith in action.