“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:38-39
How is it that one can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost? How can one “be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and 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 be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
To be filled and led by the Spirit of God does not require any great 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 Ghost reveals our sinfulness and utter failure to live up to the demands of the perfect Law of God (cf. Rom. 3:9-20, 23); but then the Holy Ghost comforts us with the assurance that our sins have been paid for and are forgiven for the sake of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose again (cf. Rom. 3:24-26; Ps. 51:1ff.).
When, by the grace of God, we believe this and trust in Christ as our Savior, being baptized in His name and according to His command for the remission of our sins (Matt. 28:19), we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 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, 26; 16:13-15). And He who has “begun a good work” in us will dwell in us and “perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, our risen and ascended Savior, we thank Thee for granting to us the gift of the Holy Ghost – for bringing us to turn from our sins to Thee for forgiveness, being baptized in Thy name, and for dwelling in us by Thy Spirit that we might be kept and preserved in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting. For the sake of Thy bitter sufferings and death we pray. Amen.
[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]