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. 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 2:38-39
How is it that one can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? How can one “not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:18-20)?
Peter, in his Pentecost sermon, gives to us the answer: “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.”
To be filled and led by the Spirit of God does not require any great spiritual work on our part. It does not require a specific prayer or a holy and sinless life before the Holy Spirit enters into us.
Through the good news of Christ’s innocent sufferings and death for the sins of the world, God graciously calls us sinners to turn from our sins to Christ Jesus for forgiveness and life everlasting (cf. 2 Thess. 2:13-14). The Holy Spirit reveals our sinfulness and utter failure to live up to the demands of the perfect Law of God (cf. John 16:7-11; Rom. 3:9-20,23); but then the Holy Spirit comforts us with the assurance that atonement has been made for our sins in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose again, and that we are forgiven and counted righteous by God through faith in Jesus’ name (cf. Rom. 3:24-26; Psalm 32:1ff.; 51:1ff.).
When, by the grace of God, we believe this and trust in Christ as our Savior, being baptized into His name and according to His command for the remission of our sins (Matt. 28:19), we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He takes up residence in our hearts, teaches us of Jesus from God’s Word and strengthens and keeps us in the true and saving faith (cf. John 14:16-18, 23-28; 16:13-15).
And He who has “begun a good work” in us will dwell in us and “complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, our risen and ascended Savior, we thank You for granting to us the gift of the Holy Spirit — for bringing us to turn from our sins to You for forgiveness, being baptized in Your name, and for dwelling in us by Your Spirit that we might be kept and preserved in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting. For the sake of Your bitter sufferings and death in our stead, and Your glorious resurrection, we pray. Amen.
[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]