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Are You Ready?

May 15, 2018

But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” John 16:13

When you speak to a baby he or she will babble back at you, even from a very young age. Within a few short months, the baby is ready to start forming syllables, then words. But if you give the baby a book, he or she will most likely try to tear out the pages or chew on it. Babies aren’t ready to read. That’s why baby “books” consist of symbols and shapes and are made of indestructible, non-toxic materials.

Before he was crucified, Jesus told his disciples that he would be sending the Holy Spirit: “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you must also testify, for you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27)[1]. Jesus was preparing them for their work with the Holy Spirit. In these verses the Holy Spirit is called both a Counselor or Advocate, and the Spirit of truth. As Counselor, the Holy Spirit would help and encourage them. As the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit would teach and illuminate the gospel message so that they were empowered to preach.

In the same way that babies aren’t ready to read before they learn to speak, most of the early Christians weren’t spiritually ready to receive the Holy Spirit immediately after the resurrection. But the disciples were. When Jesus appeared to the disciples the third day after he was crucified, they “were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (John 20: 20). Jesus said “’Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said,Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20: 21). The disciples received the Holy Spirit privately, so that Jesus could begin his 40-day “How to be Apostles” course covering the substance of their work over the coming months and years. The Holy Spirit convicted them of the truth of the resurrection, and helped them understand Jesus’ teachings in the ensuing days. They were ready to receive the Holy Spirit. They were committed to working to spread the word. They were ready.

The first Pentecost of the Christian church occurred 50 days after the resurrection–10 days after the ascension of Jesus. By then Jesus had appeared to more than 500 people, and there were about 120 followers of Jesus. That day the Holy Spirit made a very public appearance to a group of Jewish believers from around the world who had made the journey to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost—the Spirit was given to everyone that Pentecost: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each one of them. All were filled with the Holy Spirit, . . .” (Acts 2: 1-4a).

Pentecost is a traditional Jewish festival that remembers Moses receiving the law from God on Mount Sinai. (See last year’s blog, Empowered by the Holy Spirit at

In God’s perfect timing, the Holy Spirit appeared publicly for the first time when the early believers were ready to receive the Spirit. Many of those gathered had seen Jesus since the resurrection. In fact, whether Jesus was raised from the dead was not even an issue in the first century church because there were so many living eyewitnesses who saw Jesus alive after he was crucified and died. That day–when the Holy Spirit appeared publicly–was the day that the Christian church under grace was born. Peter preached to the crowd, and “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2: 41). Thereafter, the fledgling church grew exponentially.

These Scriptures raise the question, “Are you ready to receive the Holy Spirit?” In his little book of sermons on the Holy Spirit entitled How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit,[2] A. W. Tozer posits that not everyone is ready to receive the Holy Spirit. He notes that you are not ready if “you are more influenced by the world than you are by the New Testament . . . But there are some of you who are prepared. They are those who have made the grand, sweet committal.” For those who are prepared he counsels that the Holy Spirit will make himself known to you when you put the time and effort into working on your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Are you ready? Are you ready to move past just showing up at church on Sunday for social or other reasons? Are you ready to stop just going through the motions? Are you ready to get serious about your faith? Are you ready to spend time in the Word—not just in a group study, but in private? Are you ready to meditate in private on the Word? Are you ready to get to know this Jesus who died for your sins? Are you ready to be gripped by the Spirit? Because that is what will happen once you really commit yourself to Jesus. Are you willing to put in the time and effort? It is an all or nothing endeavor. You won’t receive the Spirit if your faith is lukewarm or superficial. You need to be ready to follow where he leads. You need to be obedient and faithful. That can be scary.

Are you ready?

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for Pentecost are Ezekiel 37: 1-14; Psalm 139: 1-16; Acts 2: 1-21; John 15: 26-27; John 16: 4-15.

[2] A.W. Tozer, How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit (1952) Moody Publishers, p.54-57)

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