The fifth chapter from Professor Williams’ book, The Gift of the Holy Spirit Today, about the greatest reality of our time.
Chapter Five: Reception
The Holy Spirit is given to those who believe in Jesus Christ. From all that has been said about the Holy Spirit being the Spirit of the exalted Lord and given for the primary purpose of bearing witness to Christ, it is apparent that there can be no gift of the Holy Spirit except to those who believe in Him and are thereby called to be His witnesses. Through those who believe, Christ carries forward His ministry in word and deed.
Now it is important to note two matters: the indispensability and the dynamics of this faith in Jesus Christ in relation to the gift of the Holy Spirit. Let us consider these in turn.
It is important first to emphasize the matter of indispensability because of the possible misapprehension that the Holy Spirit may be received without such a faith in Jesus Christ. There have been those who, desiring no relationship to Christ, no faith in Him, would still like to receive the Holy Spirit in the sense of having some kind of inward experience of the fullness of God. For such persons faith in Christ is viewed as irrelevant, even misdirected, since what they seek is an immediacy and unity of the divine Spirit with the human spirit. Christ may point the way to such a mystical union of God and man, but He himself is viewed as not essential to such an achievement. From the truly Christian perspective, however, all immediacy with God is a “mediated immediacy”1 wherein Christ alone can effect the unity of the infinite God and finite man.
Faith in Jesus Christ becomes all the more important with the realization that the barrier to the reception of the Spirit is not only human finitude but also human sin. Man is totally guilty, and it is only by belief in Jesus Christ that he can receive forgiveness. The wonder of the gospel, the Good News, is that there is cleansing and pardon of sins in the name of Jesus Christ. Man may truly repent and receive forgiveness and become a new creature in Christ.
This faith in Jesus Christ is personally oriented. It is directed to Him as the one who lived, died and rose again from the dead. Through His death and resurrection He has made forgiveness and new life a glorious reality. This reality may be entered into by faith in Him, by faith in His name.
It is this faith, this kind of believing in Jesus Christ, that is indispensable to receiving the Holy Spirit.2 It is, therefore, pointless to talk about the reception of the Holy Spirit except against this background.
That believing in Jesus Christ is indispensable to the reception of the Holy Spirit is apparent in all the relevant narratives in the book of Acts. Three illustrations may suffice.