Peter gets baptized in the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit comes upon this man who denied Jesus and ran away. The Holy Spirit came on this man who had given up on ministry and gone back to what was familiar and comfortable – fishing. The Holy Spirit came upon this man who one minute was flowing in revelation knowledge given to him by God and the next moment was talking as an agent of Satan. This man was changed.
He immediately moved outdoors and preached the Church’s first sermon – telling people about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and that Jesus was alive. He spoke on sin. Very plain and simple. The Holy Spirit fell on those listening and they experienced conviction with godly sorrow. They asked Peter what they should do. Peter responed: “Repent!” 3,000 were saved that day.
I have been re-reading the life of Charles Finney, the lawyer from upstate New York who was converted and became a radical and effective evangelist for the King. Wrote yesterday (see: New Convert Wins Souls) about how the morning after he was glorious saved (in the woods outside Adams, New York) and baptized in the Holy Spirit (the same night in his law office) he went out into the community and onto he streets and began witnessing to anyone who would listen about what he had seen, heard, and touched (1 John 1:1-4).
The night after he was saved – He went to his first prayer meeting and when asked to pray – he stood and prayed for the first time in publc. Do you have any idea how refreshing that would be? There are many Christians who 20 and 30 years after being born again will still not pray out loud in public. It’s like they are embarrased to do so or simply uncomfortable. Of course, we excuse such behaviour and comment about personality and levels of comfortability. Charles Finney was an introvert.
When Finney prayed people were convicted and God’s presence was felt throughout the meeting room. This is a new convert praying – with little “know-how” or practice. But, a man who had been seriously converted and saved and then saturated in the Holy Spirit. He stands and prays for the first time in public and God answers his simple prayer by allowing His presence to be so thick and heavy that people felt God’s presence upon them and, if in sin, were convicted of their need to get right with God. That would definitely change any of our assemblies on any given Sunday morning.
The next day he got some young people together to pray. Charles Finney – a layman and not a clergy person – felt such a hunger for God and for what he sensed God wanted to do and needed to do that he found a number of young men and started a prayer group. And, this continued as a regular event for years. Prayer was a staple foundation for the young convert. He hungered and thirsted for more of God and, like the early Church which was baptized in the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 and then prayed for more in Acts 4:30-31, he prayed for more on a daily basis.
Shortly after this experience – and this wonderful and immediate start to a solid and powerful Christian walk – he began to preach God’s Word. As he preached – the Holy Spirit would fall on people and convict them of their sins and their need for a Savior – Jesus! Often he would only be a few lines into his well-written and organized sermon and God’s Spirit would be so strong and powerful that conviction would fall on the people assembled and they would fall out into the aisles and cry out for mercy. Many, from the very beginning of his ministry, would get saved. Very similar to the early Church in the books of Acts – with God adding daily to their numbers.
From the time of his conversion – a true conversion – and his infilling with the Spirit, Finney was a man on fire and ablaze for God with holy boldness. He was constantly guided by the Sprit and anointed with power. Usually wherever Finney preached, people quickly became convicted of their sins, humbled themselves in repentance before God and received the assurace of salvation. His revivals spread from town to town like a creeping vine, and wherever he went new spiritual life came to individuals, churches, and communities.
Lord, send us young unsaved men and women who are hungry for you. Gloriously save them and baptize them in your Holy Spirit. Let them receive the baptism of fire that you have promised and immediately move out in power and with anointing to preach and pray so that the unsaved hear of the death and resurrection of Jesus and His offer to them of forgiveness and eternal life. Let them be single-focused, committed, consecrated, empowered, alive and excited about You and Your Kingdom and mandate to the Church to reach the whole world with the Gospel of Jesus. May they never settle for an outward form of religion but always seek after more of You and walk in Your power. And, may their life-style so convict the normal and nominal church attendees and those who give lip-service to the Christian faith but still live like and in the world that they would repent and experience a personal conversion and be drastically transformed into passionate believers, followers, and soul-winners as well. And, let it begin right here and right now! Amen!