By Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr
Repentance and the Holy Spirit Baptism Go Together
John the Baptist, the herald of Christ, proclaimed to the people: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matt 3:11).
Repentance and the baptism of the Holy Spirit go together, and both are gifts from God. Even though the Holy Spirit is routinely described as a gift (Acts 2:38, 8:20; Luke 11:13), it’s not the only gift God gives to those who come to faith in Christ, His Son.
Next to Jesus, “His indescribable Gift” (2 Cor. 9:15), one of the first great gifts of God to man, in the restoration of the fallen sons of Adam, is repentance. Unless God by His Spirit convicts the sinner of sin, repentance will never be effected:
“And when He [the Holy Spirit] has come [in fulfilment of the promise of the Father as power for evangelism – Luke 24:47- 49; Acts 1:4, 8], He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8 NKJV).
Of course, the sinner who is so convicted has a personal responsibility to change from doing evil to doing good:
“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. REPENT AND TURN YOURSELVES FROM ALL YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
“CAST AWAY FROM YOU ALL YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS, whereby ye have transgressed; and MAKE YOU A NEW HEART AND A NEW SPIRIT [attitude]: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore TURN YOURSELVES, AND LIVE YE” (Ez. 18:30-32, emphasis mine).
This is the essence of conversion: a heart change; a crossover from sin to righteousness. But then conviction came first and that by the Spirit of God. So then, as the apostle Paul put it so aptly, it is God who works in us “both to WILL and to Do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Jesus Himself put it this way: “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
Both the gifts of repentance and the Holy Spirit baptism were instrumental in the calling and regeneration of the great harvest of Pentecost recorded in the book of Acts:
“Now when they heard this [the message of the Apostle Peter], they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
“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” (Acts 2:37-38).
First, they were convicted or “pricked in their heart” by the Spirit of God. Then when they asked the apostles what they should do, Peter said to them, “Repent” – move from conviction to conversion – “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”.
Like the Holy Spirit baptism, repentance is not of human origin but of God. Brought before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish court of 70 elders) the second time, Peter testified of Jesus who “hath
God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy
Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him” (Acts 5:31-32).
Repentance and the baptism of the Holy Spirit paired again. But the two gifts are not meant for Israel only. When the Jewish believers of the early Jerusalem Church finally understood that it was the will of God that Gentiles be accepted into the church, of which Cornelius and his household were the first fruits, “they held their peace, and glorified God, saying. Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).
That same God administers the baptism of the Holy Spirit not only to Jewish believers and their descendants, but “even as many [Gentiles] as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39). The gifts of repentance and the Holy Spirit are for all believers, Jews and Gentiles alike “…..there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him” (Rom. 10:12).
Advising Timothy not to react angrily towards those who provoke him in his gospel work, the apostle Paul wrote:
“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,
“In humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
“and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2Tim. 2:24-26 NKJV).
Christ is the only one empowered by God to set people free from being held bondage to Satan’s will (see Rom. 7:14,8:7; John 17:2; Acts 26:18): “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
“Open your Mouth Wide”
As the scriptures make it abundantly clear, there is no magic formula for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is freely given to all “that obey Him”. Jesus spoke of baptism in the Holy Spirit, the corollary of which is spiritual rebirth, on this wise: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8 NKJV).
This does not suggest that believers cause the Spirit’s infilling, but rather a supernatural experience in which believers are passive recipients of God’s Spirit (John 20:22, Acts 2:1-4).
It’s similar to physical conception in the womb: “As you do not know what is the way of the wind, Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything” (Eccl. 11:5 NKJV).
The words of the Lord Jesus Christ are “spirit and life” (John 6:63), and whoever opens his or her heart to receive His words will be filled with His Spirit.
After repentance, Christ baptizes obedient people with His Holy Spirit and fire as a matter of course (Matt. 3:11; Rom.8:9). Through the Psalmist He tells us, “Open thy mouth wide[to receive and obey My Words], and I will fill it” (Ps. 81:10). The household of Cornelius, who were hearing the words of Christ for the first time, had a firsthand experience of this truth:
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all 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” (Acts 10:44-45).
When Cornelius and his household heard the words of spirit and life and imbibed them, they were filled! In this particular instance, water baptism, which usually precedes Holy Spirit baptism, occurred last (Acts 10:47-48). And yet the order of repentance followed by baptism in the Holy Ghost was not changed. As the apostle Peter spoke and they opened up their hearts to receive the message, the Spirit of God was at work in their inward parts, convicting them and stimulating a heart change – Repentance!
The Holy Spirit, the Seal of our Glorious Inheritance
The gift of the Holy Spirit is the seal of our inheritance in Christ, that we are the children of God and joint-heirs with Christ, who on His return, “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Rom. 8:15-17, 23; Phil. 3:21).
Indeed, it’s the gift of the Holy Spirit that guarantees that God’s eternal master plan to make us “accepted in the Beloved” (Son) as His adopted children through Him is carried through. Taking an ‘infinite sweep’ of God’s plan of salvation- from eternity past to eternity future – Paul writes in the first chapter of Ephesians:
“In Him [i.e. Christ] also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
“That we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
“Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (vv. 11-14 NKJV, see also 2Cor. 1:22, 4:1-5).
Given what the gift of the Holy Spirit represents both now and eternity, we have been admonished not to grieve Him: “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).
How does a person grieve the Holy Spirit? Verses 25-31 give a list of things that grieve the Holy Spirit. These include lying, anger, stealing, abusive language, rancour and malice.
Not only that. Friendship with the world of sin also grieves God’s Spirit. The apostle James warns us:
“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
“Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, The spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?”
(Jam. 4:4-5 NKJV).
Yet another is the lack of spiritual exercises like prayer and fasting. To guard against spiritual lethargy, the scriptures command us, “Pray without ceasing” (1Thess. 5:17); “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” (1Thess. 5:19 NIV).
When we allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives, “the fruit of the Spirit” – love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – becomes our way of life (Gal. 5:22-23). What warmth, peace and love we radiate then! We fulfill the Spirit’s will to be “Kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).
The Spirit-filled believer is a foretaste of heaven!
His Gifts are still on Offer—for Free!
Christ, the Saviour, is still in the business of calling people into His Kingdom. If you sincerely desire eternal life in glory, call upon Him, and He will give you two of His most precious gifts: Repentance and His Holy Spirit. He will in no wise cast you out (John 6:37; Rev. 3:21).
You can’t do it on your own (John 15:5). He must empower you by His Spirit to become a child of God (Rom 8:14; John 1:12-13).
His free gifts are still on offer, will you take them today?