WHY HAVEN'T SOME OF US RECEIVED THE HOLY SPIRIT?
by Rev. Ernest O'Neill
I wonder why some of us may not have received the gift of the Holy Spirit? Loved ones, I think if you look back to Acts 19, it's because some of us may have entered into this kind of an experience that these people did when Apollos baptized them. You see it in verse 3 of Acts 19.
And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." (That's the Old Covenant baptism.) And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him," and then Paul adds "that is, Jesus."
But what Apollos did was the same as John. He said, "Repent and God will forgive you your sins. Come down to the river and I'll baptize you in the name of Him who is to come. I'll baptize you in the name of the Messiah who will eventually come and deliver us."
I wonder how many of us here have entered into that kind of general experience of conversion. In other words, Jesus is not very vital to us in our Christian conversion. I'll tell you how it can come about. I think there are many of us who have been brought up in the church. We believe all the things that Christians believe. We think they are good. We believe in church and we come to church. We believe in God, and we pray to God. We believe that he oversees all of our lives and that we should try to be like Him, and that's as far as our conversion goes. That's as far as it goes.
We talk about the Lord in everyday life. We'll say, "Oh the Lord did this and the Lord does that." Or, "I think the Lord wants me to do that." Or, "Well, I am trusting the Lord for this." But we don't mean the Lord Jesus Christ who is our personal friend and Savior. We mean generally the Lord, the way they meant him. They were baptized in the name of Him who was to come. We don't know who that is, but we're baptized in the name of Him who is to come. And to us, the Lord is a general term that means God. We are in fact, theists. That is, we're like many people who aren't particularly Christian. We believe in God, we respect God, we're theist. That's what a theist is. He's a believer in God. But we don't have a personal relationship with Jesus. We don't know Jesus as our dear friend and Jesus is not very vital in our experience.
In other words, we have the experience of repentance, to some extent of baptism or confirmation, and to some extent the forgiveness of our sins. But Jesus is not very real to us and not very vital. When we talk about the Lord, we talk about the Lord in the same way as a follower of Islam would talk about the Lord, or a Buddhist at times will talk about the Lord, or a spiritualist will talk about certain lords. We talk in a general term 'The Lord' but we don't mean the dear Lord Jesus Christ who is our personal friend and Savior whom we know face-to-face.
Now, loved ones I think some of us have come into a general relationship with God that does not involve Jesus in any way. Actually, some of us are in a more subtle position because we were in real trouble at one time with drugs or alcohol, or in real trouble with our marriages or with our careers and we were desperate. We needed to be delivered and we cried out to God in agony, "God, help me!" And God graciously came down and delivered us out of our troubles. So, we have a great sense of gratitude to God as in some sense our Savior. But Jesus is not dear and personal to us.
It's just in a general sense. We say, "If you knew what God did for me so many years ago, then you'd believe in Him like I do." But it's believing in God as a providential deliverer, not as a Savior from sin and hell. And because Jesus is lacking in our experience, we have not received the gift of the Holy Spirit. See loved ones, it's only if Jesus is dear and precious to you that you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He gives the gift of the Holy Spirit personally to you.