Mankind is constantly engaged in a frustrating search for the ultimate answer — The Panacea. We seek solutions to a plethora of problems which constantly plague humanity. Yet real answers elude the world's greatest thinkers — all solutions are at best temporary. But the Creator God has provided mankind with a wonderful help — if he is willing to seek and accept it!
AFTER three-and-one-half years of concentrated teaching and instruction of His disciples, Jesus Christ prepared to offer Himself in the ultimate sacrifice. Soon He would be crucified and murdered by His contemporaries. After three days and three nights in the tomb, He would be resurrected to sit at the right hand of His Father in heaven. The twelve disciples would carry on the Work He had begun. Yet they had to face the sobering prospect of carrying an unpopular gospel to a hostile world. They had to contemplate years of persecution, ridicule and finally martyrdom. It was a discomfiting prospect to say the least! They needed strength, encouragement and wisdom; they needed love, patience and endurance. The twelve apostles needed to recall the lessons taught to them by Christ during His earthly ministry. As generally unlearned men, they needed extra knowledge and wisdom to face a world of philosophers, scholars and intellectuals. They needed faith and courage to confront the seething hostility of religious leaders who would attempt to stamp out the fledgling Work time after time. And Jesus knew it! He said to them shortly before His trial and crucifixion: "I will not leave you comfortless ..." (John 14:18). He intended to continue to teach and support the twelve, but not in the flesh. God the Father had provided a means by which the apostles could be helped in their efforts to spread the true gospel. "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost [Spirit], whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26). The word translated "Comforter" in the Greek is paracletos, which originally had the meaning of "one called in to help or support." God's Spirit was intended to help and support the apostles in their work. It would remind them of the lessons they had learned from their Master — Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit would lead them into more and more truth; they would receive a progressive, continuing revelation from God! "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come" (John 16:13). Christ even promised the Church prophetic revelation by the Holy Spirit — they would understand "things to come." And they would be guided into more truth than Christ had revealed to them during their three-and-one-half years of training.
What Is the Holy Spirit?
Who — or what — is the Holy Spirit? Is it a third person in the Godhead? Or is it something else? The pagan concept of the Trinity predates Christianity by many centuries! The Holy Spirit is not a person — it is the power and the mind of God! (For a complete exposition of this important truth, please read our free booklet titled Is God a Trinity?) Notice the words of Jesus Himself shortly after His resurrection, when the disciples were gathered in Jerusalem prior to the day of Pentecost: "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). The gift of the Holy Spirit would provide them with dynamic power by which to carry out the great commission of preaching the gospel. The word "power" is from the Greek dunamis which means "power, might, strength or force" (Arndt-Gingrich lexicon). In this case it involved the power to work miracles — to heal the sick, to cast out (exorcise) demons, and even raise the dead! As a result of the influence of the Holy Spirit, they would learn to think more and more like Christ Himself. Paul later told the church at Philippi: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). But how does the mind of Christ develop in a Christian? "And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us" (I John 3:24). Christ actually lives His life over again in a converted Christian by means of the Holy Spirit! The Apostle Paul wrote: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me..." (Gal. 2:20). It is Christ in us by means of the Holy Spirit which provides the Christian with the hope of eternal salvation and glory. As Paul said to the Colossians: "... Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). Developing the mind and attitude of Christ is sometimes a painful process. It is not accomplished in an instant. Rather, it requires a constant exercising of the Holy Spirit until that mind is formed within you. Paul said to the Galatians: "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you" (Gal. 4:19).
How Do We Acquire the Holy Spirit?
God requires two things before He will grant His Holy Spirit. First, you must genuinely want it and seek it: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:13.) Once God has begun to work with a human individual, he is progressively led to a point of repentance. He realizes his own inadequacies to fight against sin and Satan the devil. He realizes his need for help to overcome the downward pull of evil in his life. God is willing to provide the power and the necessary strength to resist and overcome evil by the Holy Spirit. The second condition to receiving the Holy Spirit is a firm willingness and resolve to obey God. Peter spoke of "... the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him" (Acts 5:32). But more specifically, what must a person actually do to receive the Spirit of God? Peter provides the answer: "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 Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
Actually, there are two positive kinds of baptism (the word baptize means to "immerse or submerge"). One: the immersion of the whole body in water for the remission of sins. And secondly: the receipt of the Holy Spirit which makes the Christian a part of the Body of Christ, which is the Church. The pre-Christian baptism of John was a baptism of repentance (Matt. 3:1-6; Acts 13:24). The receipt of the Holy Spirit did not follow John's baptism. A couple of examples in the book of Acts will illustrate the important difference between the two baptisms — 1) water baptism; 2) the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Philip, a zealous deacon who later became an evangelist, preached the Kingdom of God in the nation of Samaria. Many there believed and were baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts 8:5, 12). When the leading apostles at the Headquarters Church in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received God's Word, Peter and John were quickly dispatched to that northern region (verse 14). Those two original apostles then laid hands on the people previously baptized by Philip so they would receive the Holy Spirit (verses 15-17). Philip apparently lacked complete knowledge about the proper formula for receiving a part of God's mind. And then at a later date certain disciples in the city of Ephesus were baptized with water, having believed the message Apollos taught. When the Apostle Paul came to question the people instructed by Apollos, he found a key ingredient missing — the Holy Spirit. Paul found that those people didn't even so much as know what it was. So after proper instruction, they were rebaptized in water in the name of Jesus. Paul then laid hands on them; after which they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-7). Paul later explained to the Corinthians: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (I Cor. 12:13).
How the Holy Spirit Is Given
In most cases, the Holy Spirit is given after water baptism and the laying on of hands (see Acts 2:38). There are a few exceptions in the biblical account — but they are not the rule. In Acts 19 we read: "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them..." (verse 6). And in Acts 8: "Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost [Spirit]" (verse 7). What are the results of the work of the Holy Spirit in an individual Christian? Notice Galatians 5:22 for the answer: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance [self control] ...." The first and most important result of God's Spirit in the minds and hearts of human beings is love. It is not just another form of human love, but a divine love that comes directly from God. Paul tells us that "the love of God is shed abroad in our [human] hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Rom. 5:5). This divine love runs down the riverbed of God's law, which is expressed by the Ten Commandments. It is manifested first in adoration and worship of God; and then in outgoing concern, compassion, kindness and service toward other human beings (Matt. 22:37-39). The additional qualities of joy, longsuffering [enduring patience], gentleness, goodness, etc., are simply added expressions of this divine love imparted by God to an individual whom He begets with His Spirit. (These good fruits of the Holy Spirit are explained in our free reprint article entitled "This is the Life - Real Abundant Living." Also and another free article entitled "How You Can Be Imbued With the POWER of God." It explains more about the qualities and nature of God's Spirit.)
God's Spirit Not Contentious
God's Spirit manifests itself in good works and faithful words in those who preach the gospel. It is the Spirit of truth and righteousness. It is not a contentious, striving and bitter spirit (see James 3:14-16); rather it is conciliatory, loving, compassionate, forgiving. Those who are led by the Spirit of God are peacemakers. They strive to cover sins and heal wounds, rather than rubbing salt in them. James says: "But the wisdom that is from above [through God's Holy Spirit] is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace" (verses 17-18). The Holy Spirit will give you that elusive peace of mind so rare in this restless, fearful age. When you begin to imbibe of God's very mind, you will be more sound-minded — much less fearful. The Apostle Paul reminded the young evangelist Timothy: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (II Tim. 1:7). The Apostle John tells us that "There is no fear in love; but perfect love [by and through the Holy Spirit] casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love" (I John 4:18). This is a time of mismanaged and misdirected minds. Many are fearful of a wide variety of persons, places and things. Many rob themselves of peace and contentment by constantly dwelling on needless, unreasoned fears — most of which never come to pass. The first fruit of God's Spirit — love — is the only permanent solution to fear and needless mental strain. This spirit of a sound mind will gradually replace all the fears and phobias that tend to spill over into our minds from this hectic, confused, mind-jangling society. If you are one that is abnormally fearful, or even occasionally fearful, you need the indwelling presence of God's Spirit in your mind.
The Gifts of God's Spirit
In addition to giving the overall gift of the Holy Spirit to every true Christian, God also imparts special spiritual gifts or tools to the members of the body of Christ in order to perform the Work of God on earth. Paul described these different gifts in detail to the Corinthian Church. All these spiritual tools or abilities, though they are different, are given by the same Spirit (I Cor. 12:4). Among these special gifts are wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, the working of miracles, discerning of spirits, etc. (verses 8-10). These differing gifts of the Spirit are not given to divide the body of Christ, but to unite it in an attitude and spirit of teamwork (verses 12-27). Each member has his important part in performing the overall Work of God in this Church age. Today God is using the Worldwide Church of God to bring the good news of the Kingdom to this chaotic, sick and troubled world. Each member performs a vital function. Even if your part can only be daily prayer for God's Work and its leaders, you are performing a critical and very responsible function — perhaps the most important activity.
God's Spirit and You
Now let's get down to business! Who do you need to contact to receive God's Holy Spirit? How do you know you are repentant? How do you get baptized? Where are God's true ministers? We can answer your questions. The Worldwide Church of God has sent dedicated men (ordained ministers) into most communities of the United States and British Commonwealth, and into many cities around the world. These sincere individuals have no religious ax to grind, no "quota" to meet, no pressure to exert. Their purpose is to help you gain and keep the germ of eternal life — God's Holy Spirit. If you really desire baptism and the receipt of God's Spirit — and you have questions which you want answered — write to us and request a special, private appointment. Give us the pleasure of serving you. Or if you would prefer faster service, simply pick up the phone and dial this toll-free number in the continental United States: 800-423-4444. (Readers in California, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii should call 213-577-5225 collect.) When you receive God's Holy Spirit, you will begin to personally sense the remarkably thrilling change in your own mind — a steady perfection of your character, a new power in your understanding, a sudden zest in your life, and a fantastically happy outlook for the future.