Pastor Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Community Lutheran Church; Message on The Seal Of The Holy Spirit; Date: 11 January 09

For more sermons and other writings check out pastor’s homepage: http://www.geocities.com/mayeredgar

 

 

The Seal Of Certainty

 

How do you know that you belong to God and how do you know that your sins are forgiven? How can you be certain that heaven – instead of hell – is your destiny? Anyone? Check yourself! Are you saved and are you sure? Over the last twelve months faith assurance has been a topic among our young men and only two weeks ago a pastor friend told me about another dying Christian who is being plagued by doubts and uncertainties. The pastor said: “You know. This happens often with the dying. The struggle with one’s conscience continues right to the drawing of one’s last breath

This man spoke from long years of experience but how are we to take this? Do you expect to struggle with the fear of dying until the very end? Maybe it is one thing to sit in a church pew today and – from a position of strength – say: “Life is not too bad. I feel positive about being a ChristianBut when sickness strikes and life is beginning to ebb away, then the former confidence may indeed evaporate because none of us has any practice in dying – and from the outside it looks scary: unseeing eyes, grief, a hole in the ground.

How certain can you be that heaven – instead of hell – is your destination? Does God love you? Even according to the Bible the answer to these questions is not necessarily an easy one. For instance, Jesus told a story of two people who went to the temple for worship. One was supremely confident about his salvation. The other was not. Yet, this is what Jesus said – Luke 18:9-14: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one very religious [original: Pharisee] and the other a very flawed believer [original: tax collector]. The religious person stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this man over there. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the flawed believer stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ [This is how Jesus continued.] I tell you that the flawed man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted

The one who exalted himself – the confident person – the proud person – the self-assured person – made at least two mistakes. One: He was not confident in God but in himself – his own good works of fasting and tithing and being a respectable citizen. He did not trust God but his own record of acceptable behaviour which points to his second mistake: He did not appreciate the depth of the sin problem. He was not aware of the depth of his own corruption. Did he worship God in the temple or himself? The truth is that he was in awe of himself: “Look at me. Spiritual muscles. Wonderful prayer life. Nothing like other people – robbers and adulterers He was up on himself – but – before we judge him too harshly – his mistakes are all too often our mistakes.

On a certain level – pride – human pride – is attractive. We like being proud because it makes us feel good about ourselves and therefore grants us some faith assurance but – all the same – as we know – it is misplaced. Jesus said that the proud man – the one that exalted himself – did not go home justified and then there are further warnings recorded in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 10:12 – I read: “ . if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves … “ Philippians 2:12: “ … continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling

Therefore – according to the Bible – when we become certain of our salvation – assured – resting easy – cosy in our religion – then the advice is to double-check the reasons for our confidence. Are we self-confident rather than God-confident? Are we proud? Are we blind to the depth of our corruption? Are we relying on something that will not see us through the process of dying – like in the case of a farmer who was a good church-goer but said on his death-bed: “It’s not enough.” Whatever he did, was not enough.

Whatever you do – whatever I do – will never be enough. Only what Jesus did – on his own – without any of our help – for us – is enough. The Bible says – Romans 3:23-27: “ . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood … Where, then, is boasting [any exalted attitude]? It is excluded … “

This is the Christian message in a nutshell. Jesus – on his own – without any help from sinners like us – but for us – became the one perfect blood sacrifice which atoned for our sins and paid for our redemption, that is: paid for our freedom from the chains of eternal death and judgement and wrath. The blood of Jesus – the perfect blood – the holy blood – purchased for us justification by grace – through faith in his blood – if we only trust in his sacrifice – with the result that we now enjoy peace with God and friendship with God.

It may hurt our human pride that the offer is so generous – and we cannot give anything in return – but in the end we gain far more from trusting God’s generosity than our own efforts. Do you agree with me? When we are in our dying days and with some honesty contemplate possible regrets and wasted time, we do not want to fall back on ourselves. We want to fall on God – throw ourselves at his mercy. We want to hear again and again Bible verses such as Romans 5:6 – I read: “ … when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly … “ Romans 5:8: “ … While we were still sinners, Christ died for usRomans 5:10: “ … when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son [Jesus Christ] … “ When the chips are down, we are not getting tired of hearing this again and again. While we were in no position to help our own salvation – while we were the powerless enemies of God – Christ did it all – on his own – by dying for us and thus reconciling us to God the Father.

In the end this is how assurance comes to us. The Bible says – Romans 10:17: “ … faith comes from hearing the message … the word of Christ Faith comes – confidence comes – assurance comes – from hearing the message and so we keep repeating the message – hammering the good news – listing all the relevant Bible verses – until the words break through our doubts, grab hold of our hearts and encourage faith.

At first the humble man in Jesus’ parable dared not look up to heaven, beat his breast and said: “God, have mercy on me, a sinnerBut he went home justified. Therefore – when we are as downtrodden as he was – when we are as anxious as he was – we take heart at what Jesus declared: “He went home justifiedWe go home justified. As we are crying out to God with the same words: “God, have mercy on me, a sinnerJesus makes us cling to what he promised in reply – Luke 18:14: “ … he who humbles himself will be exaltedThere is no shortage of Bible promises and we want to hear them all because faith comes – assurance comes – from hearing the message – Romans 10:13: “ … Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

Yet – there is more. As much as we can trust the Word of God and as much as God builds up faith through hearing the Word, the most excellent faith assurance – the most complete and joyful confidence in the Word of salvation – comes with the fulfillment of another key promise for every Christian. Let me take you through a few more Bible passages – 2 Corinthians 1:20-22: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ … it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. [Notice the confidence in these words and now the reason why … ] He anointed us, set his seal on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 – Here the apostle Paul does face the human misery of aging and dying, saying: “ … while we are in this body [original: tent] we groan and are burdened … [but then he continues with words of supreme assurance … ] Now it is God who has made us … and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident … We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body [would prefer to be dead] and at home with the Lord [in heaven] … ” Do we prefer to be dead because we know that we will be at home with God in heaven?

Two more readings – Ephesians 1:13-14: “ … you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth [notice here again how faith and inclusion in Christ comes through hearing the word of truth] … [then] having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance [in heaven] … “ Ephesians 4:30: “ … the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption

Right – all of these Bible passages trace the most excellent faith assurance – give reason for the most complete and joyful confidence in the Word of salvation – on the basis of being sealed by the Holy Spirit and receiving him as a deposit – a down payment – of what is to come in heaven – Ephesians 1:13-14 – I repeat only one verse: “ … having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance [in heaven] … “

According to all of these passages God intends to give us something tangible – something definite and irrefutable – which makes us absolutely certain that we are being saved. There is a seal – the seal of the Holy Spirit – and seals – by definition – are meant to be tangible evidence of authentication (also ownership and security) – like when you sign a letter with your name authenticating that the letter has indeed been written by you. Then there is a deposit – the possession of the Holy Spirit as a down payment – which again points to tangible evidence because no one is going to accept a deposit which cannot be seen.

In other words: you experience the sealing with the Holy Spirit and you experience receiving him as a down payment of further glory to come. Whatever is tangible can be experienced. Quoting another preacher (Martyn Lloyd-Jones) – “ … it is the height of Christian experience[1] When does this happen to you? It happens when Jesus Christ baptizes you with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus promises to baptize you with the Holy Spirit and right from the beginning this was identified as belonging to Jesus’ core mission. He came for that. John the Baptist – the forerunner of Jesus – announced him with these telling words, saying – Luke 3:16-16: “ … one more powerful than I will come … He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire … “ Then Jesus himself said – after he rose from the dead – Acts 1:5: “ . John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spiritwhich happened to the disciples on the day of Pentecost – Acts 2:1-4: “ … a sound … filled the whole house … They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled themWhen other people were wondering about these tangible phenomena – some of which could be observed even by outsiders – one of the disciples explained – Acts 2:32-33: “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hearWhen the people then wanted to respond to the message, the same disciple said – Acts 2:38-39: “ … Repent and be baptized, every one of of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is … for all whom the Lord our God will call

The nature of the experience – the nature of the tangible evidence – the nature of possible phenomena – varies in people.[2] The Bible records experiences of hearing sounds (Acts 2:1-4), seeing tongues of fire (Acts 2:1-4), speaking in tongues (Acts 2:1-4; 10:46; 19:6), speaking words of prophecy (Acts 19:6), being filled with joy and love and peace. The intensity of emotions may again vary but – this is true for all of us – the presence of the Holy Spirit comes in such a way that the following Bible verses come to make sense to everybody – Romans 14:17: “ . the kingdom of God is . a matter … of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 8:14-16: “ … you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Hebrews 6:4-6: “ … those … enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age … “ John 14:16-21: “ … the Father … give you another Comforter to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you … “ Cf. 1 Peter 1:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6.

A few weeks ago I picked up an interesting book from the seminary library in Adelaide.  It was by the German Lutheran pastor Emil Wacker and dates from the year 1889. The title of the book is “Ordo Salutis” which is Latin and can be translated as “The Order of Salvation”. Wacker was a Lutheran pastor who was in touch with renewal movements in Denmark and Northern Germany and he was a pastor who was in touch with the practical needs of his flock. Therefore – in his book he breaks down and explains all the various components of God’s saving work in us. He calls them “steps” of salvation of which there are seven ranging from 1) vocation and awakening [vocatio activa et passiva], 2) illumination and spiritual knowledge [illuminatio activa et passiva], 3) conversion and the outburst of repentance and faith [conversio activa et passiva], 4) sealing and certainty of salvation [sigillatio activa et passiva], 5) renovation and walk in a state of grace [renovatio activa et passiva], 6) preservation in the faith and Christian perseverance [conservatio activa et passiva] and 7) perfecting in the faith and Christian perfection [perfectio activa et passiva].

We don’t have to delve into what is meant by all of these terms and we don’t have to penetrate how they relate to each other and how the various elements reoccur in the dynamic of everyday living. For instance, how we always come back to the step of daily repentance and renewed faith or the step of perserverance. All we have to know for now is that this study covers the process of being called to faith, followed by repentance and trusting Jesus, until complete maturity in the faith.

Now – what I found stunning was that Wacker identifies the fourth step – the sealing and certainty of salvation – as the centre step or juncture – which looks – on the one hand – backwards to one’s conversion and – on the other hand – looks forward to one’s growing maturity and ultimate glory in heaven – and this step – according to his understanding – is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. He writes – and this is my translation: “Hence the seal of the Holy Spirit can be nothing else than the communication of the Spirit himself – the miracle of Pentecost – which all saints are to experience and do experience … “[3]

Wow! This makes a lot of sense. In the book of Acts the baptism with the Holy Spirit is strongly identified with power for mission work. The mission work of the church was about to commence and therefore Jesus said to his disciples – Acts 1:8: “ … you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and [then] you will be my witnesses … “ However, if we only read this account in Acts and base our understanding of the Spirit baptism only on this account, we are in danger of missing the bigger picture: the abiding close connection between Spirit baptism and our conversion.

I hope that this is not too complicated but the baptism with the Spirit does not mark the beginning of a new deal – some higher Christian life – does not mark a stage where you have more salvation than others – no – the baptism with the Spirit simply confirms and assures us of what we have all received in conversion, that is: the forgiveness of sins and eternal friendship – peace – with God. In this way – and this is a good Lutheran contribution to Christian Bible exposition – the baptism with the Spirit remains tied to the article of justification by faith through grace which – as all Christians would agree – is only right and proper because nothing can – nothing must – eclipse the blood of Jesus – poured out on the cross for us and the forgiveness of our sins. We have the right foundation when we base our hope in the cross of Christ – the supreme sacrifice by which we are being justified by faith – and then with the baptism of the Holy Spirit as the event – the key juncture in our faith life – which confirms this hope in our hearts with joy and at the same releases power for the outflow of our justification into mission work and all righteousness.

I say it one more time because this is worth remembering: The baptism with the Holy Spirit is the pivotal step in our faith development because it looks both backwards and forwards – backwards to our conversion assuring us of salvation – justification by faith – with joy[4] and forwards to the glory in heaven in the meantime empowering us for every good work.

In his book Emil Wacker could not have been any more emphatic as to the significance of the Spirit baptism in the life of every Christian[5] but – based on the Scriptures and his experience as a pastor – he also writes: “ … We know, however, that … some, who are justified before God by faith, are not immediately certain of this fact, some experience assurance rather late in life, and others maybe never … As long as this [original: the] sealing [with the Holy Spirit] is not received … When there is no faith certainty even on one’s death-bed, then this is a matter of serious concern. For it is not God but the person … who is the cause for the stunted development in faith life … “[6]

The Bible teaches that after we have received faith, God wants to seal everyone with the Holy Spirit. This sealing is to happen to you – and me – and everyone – as we become Christians – Ephesians 1:13-14 – I repeat: “ … having believed, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit … “ Acts 2:38-39: “ … Repent and be baptized … And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is … for all … ” Yet – at times – all too frequently – the sealing – the baptism with the Holy Spirit – does not happen to everyone. At least this was the experience of Wacker and – to a lesser extent – the Bible when some Christians were asked – Acts 19:2: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit [the baptism with the Spirit] when you believedTheir answer was “no” (cf. Acts 8:14-17) and maybe some of us here would have to answer in the same way: “No. No, we have not yet experienced what you are talking about

Why not? If you are in this position, what is the blockage? In the Bible the people who said “no” were held back by ignorance. They had not even heard about the baptism with the Spirit and therefore had no faith expectation for receiving this gift. Then – from his work as a pastor – Wacker identified further blockages. Some people are half-hearted in their repentance. They do not completely turn away from sin – maybe hang on to a pet sin – and therefore grieve the Holy Spirit. Others cannot stop relying on themselves – their good deeds, their clever theology, their worked-up emotions – not unlike the religious person in the opening Bible story – Luke 18:9-14: “ … ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people … ‘ [Jesus said:] … everyone who exalts himself will be humbled … ” Pride gets in the way. Most of all – Wacker identifies a certain lack of spiritual energy in people. They are far too easily pleased with a little religion rather than the fullness of God. There is indifference and even laziness.

If you are not yet baptized in the Spirit, do you want to be? Do you want to be assured of salvation? This is how it happened in the Bible – Acts 19:2-7: “ … They answered: ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.‘ … Paul said: ‘ … believe in … Jesus.’ … When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied … “

This morning we want to do the same – have the same happen – to anyone who has not yet received the baptism with the Holy Spirit. And if that is you, then please get ready. Humble yourself. Believe in Jesus. In a moment we want to lay hands on you, pray for you with faith and have the Spirit come on you in fullness releasing assurance and joy. You are justified by faith through grace. The blood of Jesus cleanses you from all sin and you may know this – deep in your heart – by the Spirit. The Spirit baptism does not always happen immediately but it will in time – for certain – because Jesus said so – Luke 11:1-13: “ … everyone who asks receives … “

In closing let me share its consequence in the form of a testimony. One day I was prayer-walking toward Picnic-Point and as I was walking up the hill, I thought that I had heard a faint cry. I looked into the front-yard of the next house and there was an old woman lying on the footpath. The sun was beating down but she couldn’t crawl into the shade or do anything. As I approached, she looked up at me and then said: “Thank you, God, for sending me one of your ownShe was a Christian, had prayed for help and when I came, she recognized me from a video. I helped her into the house. She shared with me that she had just come out of hospital again and in the course of the conversation she also shared with me that she always expects to convert at least one person during each hospital stay. She went to hospital for mission work.

Then in March last year she died and this week her daughter gave me permission to share with you how she died. A good while ago she had four bypass surgeries and God seemed to tell her then that if she wanted, she could go home to heaven but she replied that she didn’t want to go home before her work on earth was finished. So she lived on. Then last year there was a cancer growing behind her nose which affected one eye – closing it permanently – and lumps appeared under her chin. By this time she was eighty-eight years old, could no longer cope with the anasthetic, had another heart-attack and simply staid at the hospice. She was a person filled with the Holy Spirit but some days before she died – under the influence of various drugs – she was attacked by some doubts. Her daughter sensed this and asked her: “Do you know that you are savedThen she felt led to make this 100% certain and take her mum one more time through the sinner’s prayer – like what the flawed believer prayed in the opening Bible story – Luke 18:9-14: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner

Other versions of this prayer go like this (and you may pray this in your heart right now): "Lord Jesus Christ, I am sorry for the things I have done wrong in my life. (Take a few moments to ask his forgiveness for anything particular that is on your conscience.) Please forgive me. I now turn from everything which I know is wrong. Thank you that you died on the cross for me so that I could be forgiven and set free. Thank you that you now offer me this gift of forgiveness and your Spirit. I now receive that gift. Please come into my life by your Holy Spirit to be with me forever. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen."

After the daughter led her mum through this prayer, peace came over her mum and she was smiling with the most beautiful smile. About three days before she died the family sensed that Jesus had come into the room and was now sitting on her bed – waiting for her to come with him to heaven. On the last evening she could no longer talk but she looked at her daughter and she understood the look asking her: “Is it time to go nowThe mum answered again with the most beautiful smile. So the daughter prayed and asked Jesus to take her mum home. Then – in a moment – the mum was no longer looking at the daughter but at a spot that was above her. Her smiling face was incredible. She was seeing Jesus and when she was seeing Jesus – according to her daughter – she was healed. The eye opened and she was seeing again with both eyes. The lumps under her chin disappeared and – finally – the heart stopped. She went home with a healed body and so much joy.

All of us can die in the same way. With the same joy – the same assurance – the same beautiful smile on our face – we can say with the apostle Paul – 2 Corinthians 5:1-10: “ … I … would prefer to be … [dead] and at home with the Lord … “ The reason for this kind of possible confidence is expressed in Bible verses like Ephesians 1:13-14 – hear them one more time: “ … having believed, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance … “

Therefore – today – right now – if you have been listening to this message and you get the sense that you have not yet been sealed with the Holy Spirit – you have not yet experienced the down-payment of the Holy Spirit – you have not yet been baptized with the Holy Spirit – but you want the joy and faith assurance, then get ready to receive what is promised. Jesus said – Luke 11:1-13: “ … everyone who asks receives … “ Amen.

 

 

 

Brief comment on speaking in tongues:

Some are filled with the Spirit without receiving the gift of tongues. The two do not necessarily go together. Yet in the New Testament and in experience they often do go together. There is no reason why you should not pray for both.

 

 

Praying together:

Lord Jesus Christ,

I believe in you

and I long to be sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Baptize me with the Holy Spirit

and let me experience him

as the down-payment of future glory.

 

 

Preacher:

 

Now – applying the keys to the kingdom of heaven – according to Matthew 18:18 and Jesus’ words: “ … whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” – I speak with the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and by his command.

 

Any powers behind any blockages, I bind you up and take authority over you: Any pride or fear, depart now in the name of Jesus. On account of his holy blood which cleanses us from all sin, you need to give way to the Holy Spirit.

            By the authority of Jesus Christ – in his name – I loose and release the infilling with the Holy Spirit in those that want him. Receive the Holy Spirit. Be baptized with his presence – and joy and love and peace. Amen.

 

 

Further individual prayers:

 

Introduction: Now we want to allow some time to let the Holy Spirit move on you – let his presence soak you with the abundance of his goodness – if need be, allow you to ease into the infilling by him. While this happens, let others continue to pray for you and keep releasing the presence of the Spirit to you. [When they run out of words to pray in the English language, do not be too concerned when they pray in tongues and allow the Holy Spirit to guide their prayers for you.]

 

Prayer team: Holy Spirit, keep pouring out. Let the person drink deeply from your presence. Be a spring of fresh water that wells up within him/her to eternal life.

            Lord Jesus Christ, more … release more and more – the fullness of the Spirit. Wash away what stands in the way. Let the trickle become a flood …

 


How To Get Ready For The Infilling With The Holy Spirit

 

If you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, then you desire something that Jesus has promised to give – Acts 2:38-39: “ … Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you … and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

According to the Bible every Christian has the Holy Spirit in some measure because “ … no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). However, Jesus promised his disciples more. He promised his believing followers that they would be “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5) which means that they would be completely submerged in the Spirit and drenched by the Spirit. Thus, every Christian can seek to be filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit as happened again to the believers in Acts 4:31: “After they prayed … they were all filled with the Holy Spirit … “

There is no set method which we can follow and thus control the infilling with the Holy Spirit. We do not control God but there are God-given ways which make us ready to receive the precious gift of the Holy Spirit in the manner God has intended for us. You may get together with someone that can pray for you and with you – perhaps lay hands on you. However, if you do not have anyone that can do that for you, there is nothing holding you back from praying on your own.

Some are filled with the Spirit without receiving the gift of tongues. The two do not necessarily go together. Yet in the New Testament and in experience they often do go together. There is no reason why you should not pray for both.[7]

You may follow these steps:

 

1. Invite God to be present and assert his lordship over you and this time. Pray something like this:

 

My worship is in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Lord Jesus, as you disarmed the powers and authorities of this dark world and triumphed over them by the cross, be with me now. Cover me with your blood and complete forgiveness so that the devil has no foothold in my life. In your name I bind whatever wants to exalt itself against you and declare that nothing must interfere with your purposes for me now. Amen.

 

2. Repent and turn away from everything that you know is wrong in your life. Pray something like this:

 

Lord God, our heavenly Father,

I am a sinner and I have sinned against you,

     not only in my words and actions,

     but also in my secret thoughts and desires

     which I cannot fully know or understand,

     but which you know completely.

I am sorry that I have displeased you,

     and repent of the evil I have done.

 

Add what comes to your mind about concrete sins which you have committed

and sinful practices which have a hold on you.

                

For the sake of your dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

     have mercy on me, forgive my sins,

     and graciously help me in my weakness. Amen.

 

3. Put your faith in the promises of God. Jesus said – Matthew 17:20: “ … if you have faith as small as a mustard seed … Nothing will be impossible for you.” Then Jesus gave us great encouragement when he said – Luke 11:9-13: “ … Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened … If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” Trust that everyone who asks will receive the Holy Spirit. Exercise faith.

 

4. Have someone lay hands on you and pray for you or simply pray yourself something like this:

 

Lord Jesus, I invite you to fill me with your Holy Spirit. Drench me completely with his power and holiness. I want to receive and be open to your gift and presence.

 

5. Wait for more of the Holy Spirit to be poured out on you. While you wait, keep on “asking”, “seeking” and “knocking” until your prayer is answered according to the promises of Jesus – Luke 11:9-13: “ … Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened … If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

While you wait bring before God any potential blockages to the full release of the Holy Spirit in you, e.g.: sins such as unforgiveness, bitterness, doubt, anger, jealousy, sexual immorality, greed, …

           

6. If you would like to receive the gift of speaking in tongues, ask. Then open your mouth and attempt to praise God in any language but English or any other language known to you. “Simply lift up your voice and speak out confidently, in the faith that the Lord will take the sound that you give Him and shape it into a language.”[8] Pray something like this:

 

Lord Jesus, please drive away all fear, doubt and confusion about the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. Please help me to surrender the control of my tongue to you. Please help me when I hesitate to give voice to strange sounding words which I do not understand. I thank you that you are giving good gifts to your children and I accept the gift of speaking in tongues from you in expectant faith …

 

Now speak out the first sounds that come to your lips and do not be discouraged. Do not worry about how you feel or how you sound.

 

7. Believe that what you receive is from God. Do not be quick to doubt the experience. Do not be quick to judge that you are not meant to have this gift.

 

8. Persevere. Languages take time to develop. Most of us start with a very limited vocabulary. Gradually it develops. Speaking in tongues is like that. It takes time to develop the gift. But don’t give up.

 

9. If you have prayed for any other gift, seek opportunities to use it. Remember that all gifts have to be developed by use.[9]

 

In closing remember that after the initial baptism with the Holy Spirit we need refillings because we do not always stay on the same level of Spirit power. Nicky Gumbel writes: “Being filled with the Spirit is not a one-time experience. Peter was filled with the Spirit three times in the space of chapters 2-4 in the Book of Acts (Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31). When Paul says, ‘Be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18), he uses the present continuous tense, urging them and us to go on and on being filled with the Spirit.”[10]

 



[1] Martyn Lloyd-Jones: God’s Ultimate Purpose. An Exposition Of Ephesians 1:1-23, Pennsylvania: The Banner Of Truth 1978, p270.

[2] Martyn Lloyd-Jones: God’s Ultimate Purpose. An Exposition Of Ephesians 1:1-23, Pennsylvania: The Banner Of Truth 1978, p283-284: “ … The answer is that the ‘sealing with the Spirit’ does well beyond what is experienced at conversion. The man who is justified by faith believes the Word and believes the teaching of the Word, and as a result he has this sense of rest and of satisfaction. That may often be tested and shaken, however, and he will be driven back to the Word and will have to work out the scriptural arguments to silence his doubts. But as we have seen, when the sealing with the Spirit comes there is no longer any argument. That is so because this is a direct assurance, it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit in an unmistakable manner.

                There is a very beautiful illustration of this aspect of the truth in the works of the saintly, the ‘heavenly’ Dr Richard Sibbes, another of the great Puritans of 300 years ago. Dr Sibbes says that the difference between the conversion experience and the ‘sealing’ can be stated thus. It is like a child who has been a little mischievous and disobedient, who has a sense of guilt and is unhappy, and who keeps on running back to his father. The father receives him but he does not smile much at him. This is the father’s way of reprimanding him and of punishing him for his disobedience; but the child by running back gets a certain satisfaction when he is with the father. This may go on for some time. Then one day as they are walking along a road together the child presses near to his father and touches him. The father continues just to look at him; but then after a while the father takes hold of the child, lifts him up and fondles him in his arms and showers his love upon him. That is the difference! Without the sealing of the Spirit you can know that your sins are forgiven; but not in this special and certain manner. This goes beyond the initial experience of forgiveness; this is God, if I may so express it, endearing us and showering His love upon us, overwhelming us … “

[3] Emil Wacker: Ordo Salutis, Breklum: Christian Jensen Verlag 1960, p89.

[4] Even when Jesus received his baptism with the Spirit, which would launch him into his kingdom work of preaching, healing and driving out demons, the baptism with the Holy Spirit also served to look backwards assuring Jesus of his relationship with God the Father – Luke 3:22: “ … the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ … “

[5] Here are some more interesting quotes – Emil Wacker: Ordo Salutis, Breklum: Christian Jensen Verlag 1960, p101: “Die Versiegelung ist ebenson sehr eine Gewissheit von den Gnadenmitteln wie ein Inneres Zeugnis im Herzen. Die Frage liegt nahe, wie weit die Gewissheit vom Zeugnis des Wortes Gottes und der Sakramente, welche die Versiegelung gibt, sich erstreckt. Wir lehren, dass die Heilige Schrift das irrtumslose Wort Gottes, einzige Quelle und Norm aller christlichen Lehre ist. Diese Lehre von der Schrift ist uns allen zunaechst auf dem Wege der Autoritaet ueberliefert. Aber der Glaube an die Schrift ruht doch vornehmlich auf der persoenlichen Erfahrung ihrer Gotteskraft zur Seligkeit. Da sagt man nun oft: weil wir Christus in der Schrift finden, darum glauben wir, dass sie Gottes Wort ist. Der Glaube an die freie Gnade in Christus, das Materialprinzip der Reformation, wird dem Glauben an die Schrift als das Wort Gottes, dem Formalprinzip der Reformation, vorangestellt. Das ist richtig. Aber wenn man davon die Anwendung macht, dass wir erst durch den Glauben an Christus zur Schrift kommen, so ist das noch nicht ganz richtig. Der Ausgangspunkt fuer unser Kommen zu Christus sowohl wie zur Schrift ist ein gemeinsamer, naemlich die Busse. Wir machen Erfahrungen von der Suende, und dieselben sind Bestaetigungen des Wortes Gottes. Der Anfang der persoenlichen Erfahrung von der Gotteskraft des Wortes ist die Erfahrung des toetenden Gesetzes.  Der Kampf gegen die Suende, zuerst meist ein Kampf in Selbstgerechtigkeit, fuehrt tiefer hinein in das Wort, je mehr er aufrichtig gefuehrt wird. Und je tiefer er in das Wort fuehrt, desto mehr fuehrt er zur Erfahrung unseres voelligen geistlichen Todes. Aus dieser Erfahrung zunaechst erwaechst dem Menschen die Autoritaet des goettlichen Wortes ueberhaupt. Das Gesetz fuehrt zum Evangelium … “

Emil Wacker: Ordo Salutis, Breklum: Christian Jensen Verlag 1960, p103: “Ich kann nicht anders, ich muss auf diese Dinge grosses Gewicht legen. Die Heilsgewissheit ruht im allgemeinen auf der Person und dem Werk, insbesonderheit dem Opfer Christi, und auf der Heiligen Schrift, welche uns als ganzes und im einzelnen Christum bezeugt. Das kann nicht fehlen. Das ganze Alte Testament nicht minder als das Neue, so wie es uns Gott gegeben hat, ist dazu noetig. Das Siegel des Heiligen Geistes erstreckt sich auf das alles. Und gerade das ist die Kraft dieses Siegels, dass es uns in dem allen gewiss macht. Was die Sakramente betrifft, so ist ihre Bedeutung insonderheit fuer den angefochtenen Glauben zu betonen. So entspricht es der Schrift, der Glaubenserfahrung und unserem Bekenntnis. Lutheraner, welche die Heilsgewissheit in erster Linie auf die Sakramente gruenden wollen und sich ihrer gebrochenen Stellung zur Schrift als einer echt lutherischen ruehment, haben alle Ursache zu pruefen, ob der Heilige Geist in dieser ihrer Stellung ihrem Geiste Zeugnis gibt. Dass sie in Luthers Fussstapfen wandeln, ist mehr als zweifelhaft.”

[6] Emil Wacker: Ordo Salutis, Breklum: Christian Jensen Verlag 1960, p104.

[7] Nicky Gumbel: Questions Of Life. A Practical Introduction To The Christian Faith, Colorado Springs: Cook Communication Ministries 1993, p162-163.

[8] Larry Christenson: Answering Your Questions About Speaking In Tongues, Minneapolis: Bethany House 1968, p130.

[9] Nicky Gumbel: Questions Of Life. A Practical Introduction To The Christian Faith, Colorado Springs: Cook Communication Ministries 1993, p162-163.

[10] Nicky Gumbel: Questions Of Life. A Practical Introduction To The Christian Faith, Colorado Springs: Cook Communication Ministries 1993, p162-163.