All living beings–men and women, young and old, rich and poor–are beneficiaries of heaven’s abundance. From the day of our birth, we are showered with gifts and blessings from the Lord every day. It is written that “His compassions fail not. They are new every morning:…” Lamentations 3:22, 23. It is not only the gift of life that we receive, but also His grace, sustenance, assistance, and guidance. Truly we are constantly the recipients of a “multitude of … mercies.” Psalm 106:7.

In times past, there were patriarchs and leaders, priests and prophets who testified of God’s promises and love to mankind. In the fullness of time, God “gave His only begotten Son” for man’s salvation. He was the greatest gift that heaven could give. “The Prince of heaven was among His people. The greatest gift of God had been given to the world.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 277. 

Yet this is not all. The Lord gives another great gift–the Holy Spirit–to continue the work of Jesus in guidance, instruction, conversion, and sanctification. “But the Comforter,” says Jesus, “which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” This was not to be for just a short time but “for ever;… for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” John 14:26, 16, 17.

The same truth is stated in the Spirit of prophecy. “Christ promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to His church, and the promise belongs as much to us as to the first disciples…. This promised blessing, claimed by faith, brings all other blessings in its train. It is given according to the riches of the grace of Christ, and He is ready to supply every soul according to the capacity to receive.

“The impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ. Those only who are thus taught of God, those only who possess the inward working of the Spirit, and in whose life the Christ-life is manifested, can stand as true representatives of the Saviour.” –Gospel Workers, pp. 284, 285.

“Christ, the Great Teacher, had an infinite variety of subjects from which to choose, but the one upon which He dwelt most largely was the endowment of the Holy Spirit. What great things He predicted for the church because of this endowment. Yet what subject is less dwelt upon now? What promise is less fulfilled? An occasional discourse is given upon the Holy Spirit, and then the subject is left for after consideration.” –Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 156, 157.

Always remember–“The dispensation in which we are now living is to be, to those that ask, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Ask for His blessing. It is time we were more intense in our devotion. To us is committed the arduous, but happy, glorious work of revealing Christ to those who are in darkness. We are called to proclaim the special truths for this time. For all this the outpouring of the Spirit is essential. We should pray for

[the Spirit]. The Lord expects us to ask Him. We have not been wholehearted in this work.” –Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 304.

The Lord is willing to give this gift in abundance–more willing than a father is to give bread to his children. The only thing He requires is the open heart to receive it, which includes repentance, consecration, and the request for Him to accomplish His work of purification.

“All your self-crucifixion will not do any good then. It must be [done] before the destiny of souls is decided. It is now that self is to be crucified–when there is work to do; when there is some use to be made of every entrusted capability. It is now that we are to empty and thoroughly cleanse the vessel of its impurity. It is now that we are to be made holy unto God. This is our work, this very moment. You are not to wait for any special period for a wonderful work to be done; it is today. I give myself to God today….” –The Upward Look, p. 283.

“The great outpouring of the Spirit of God, which lightens the whole earth with His glory, will not come until we have an enlightened people, that know by experience what it means to be laborers together with God. When we have entire, wholehearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of His Spirit without measure; but this will not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God.” –(Review and Herald, July 21, 1896) Christian Service, p. 253.

Time is passing quickly, and world conditions show that the final events are upon us. God’s people must now come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. Judges 5:23. This important subject is especially needed now. Please note that in these lessons some verses and testimonies are repeated, and this has at least two purposes–first, to help each student keep the concepts of his or her great need in mind and, second, to show God’s willingness to endow His faithful children with His great power. Let every student be filled with the Holy Spirit and be an instrument in the Master’s hand for the accomplishment of His final work on earth.

–The brethren of the Ministerial Department 

Special Sabbath School Offering for

Let your offerings reflect God’s love and mercy!

Sabbath, January 3, 2015

“The promise of the Holy Spirit is not limited to any age or to any race. Christ declared that the divine influence of His Spirit was to be with His followers unto the end. From the Day of Pentecost to the present time, the Comforter has been sent to all who have yielded themselves fully to the Lord and to His service. To all who have accepted Christ as a personal Saviour, the Holy Spirit has come as a counselor, sanctifier, guide, and witness. The more closely believers have walked with God, the more clearly and powerfully have they testified of their Redeemer’s love and of His saving grace.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 49.

Prophets speak

1. What great promise was made to God’s people centuries before the Christian era?

Ezekiel 39:29 Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God. 

Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.

“There was no excuse for the blindness of Israel in regard to the work of regeneration.… Through Ezekiel the promise had been given, ‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes.’… Ezekiel 36:26, 27.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 174.

2. What did prophecy tell about the effects of this great outpouring of blessings?

Joel 2:28, 29 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 

Isaiah 44:4 And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses. 

“If this prophecy of Joel met a partial fulfillment in the days of the apostles, we are living in a time when it is to be even more evidently manifest to the people of God. He will so bestow His Spirit upon His people that they will become a light amid the moral darkness; and great light will be reflected in all parts of the world. O that our faith might be increased, that the Lord might work mightily with His people.” –(Manuscript 49, 1908) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1175.

Promise repeated by Jesus

3. What did Jesus declare concerning all who believe in Him? How did He strengthen the promise of this wonderful gift to His disciples?

John 7:38, 39; 14:16, 17 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)… 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. 

“When Christ gave His disciples the promise of the Spirit, He was nearing the close of His earthly ministry. He was standing in the shadow of the cross, with a full realization of the load of guilt that was to rest upon Him as the Sin Bearer. Before offering Himself as the sacrificial victim, He instructed His disciples regarding a most essential and complete gift which He was to bestow upon His followers–the gift that would bring within their reach the boundless resources of His grace. ‘I will pray the Father,’ He said, ‘and He shall give you another Comforter….’ John 14:16…. The Saviour was pointing forward to the time when the Holy Spirit should come to do a mighty work as His representative. The evil that had been accumulating for centuries was to be resisted by the divine power of the Holy Spirit.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 47.

4. What did He give them at His first appearance right after His resurrection? Before giving them the Holy Spirit, with what commission did He entrust them?

John 20:21-23 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

“God wants you to stand in position where He can breathe upon you the Holy Spirit, where Christ can abide in the heart. He wants you at the beginning of this meeting to lay off whatever of controversy, of strife, of dissension, of murmuring, you have been carrying. What we need is a great deal more of Christ and none of self. The Saviour says, ‘Without Me ye can do nothing.’…” –Selected Messages, book 3, p. 337.

Preparation through prayer and unity

5. What instructions did they receive so they would experience the Father’s promise? How did they carry out these directions? 

Luke 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. 

Acts 1:4, 14 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me…. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. 

“Before He left His disciples, Christ ‘breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.’ John 20:22. Again He said, ‘Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you.’ Luke 24:49. But not until after the ascension was the gift received in its fullness. Not until through faith and prayer the disciples had surrendered themselves fully for His working was the outpouring of the Spirit received. Then in a special sense the goods of heaven were committed to the followers of Christ. ‘When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.’ Ephesians 4:8. ‘Unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ,’ the Spirit ‘dividing to every man severally as He will.’ Ephesians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 12:11. The gifts are already ours in Christ, but their actual possession depends upon our reception of the Spirit of God.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 327.

Presence of the Holy Spirit and power of the message

6. What would the disciples receive when the Holy Spirit came upon them? What effect would His presence have on their preaching?

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 

“Christ’s visible presence was about to be withdrawn from the disciples, but a new endowment of power was to be theirs. The Holy Spirit was to be given them in its fullness, sealing them for their work. ‘Behold,’ the Saviour said, ‘I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.’ Luke 24:49. ‘For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.’ ‘Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.’ Acts 1:5, 8.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 30, 31.

7. When and how was the wonderful promise of the Holy Spirit fulfilled? Did the disciples experience this power when they preached the message? 

Acts 2:1-4, 43, last part; 4:33 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance…. 43 And many wonders and signs were done by the apostles…. 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

“What was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost? The glad tidings of a risen Saviour were carried to the uttermost parts of the inhabited world. As the disciples proclaimed the message of redeeming grace, hearts yielded to the power of this message. The church beheld converts flocking to her from all directions. Backsliders were reconverted. Sinners united with believers in seeking the pearl of great price. Some who had been the bitterest opponents of the gospel became its champions. The prophecy was fulfilled, ‘He that is feeble … shall be as David; and the house of David … as the angel of the Lord.’ Zechariah 12:8. Every Christian saw in his brother a revelation of divine love and benevolence. One interest prevailed; one subject of emulation swallowed up all others. The ambition of the believers was to reveal the likeness of Christ’s character and to labor for the enlargement of His kingdom. 

“… Under their labors were added to the church chosen men, who, receiving the word of truth, consecrated their lives to the work of giving to others the hope that filled their hearts with peace and joy. They could not be restrained or intimidated by threatenings. The Lord spoke through them, and as they went from place to place, the poor had the gospel preached to them, and miracles of divine grace were wrought.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 48.

For personal study

“Only to those who wait humbly upon God, who watch for His guidance and grace, is the Spirit given. The power of God awaits their demand and reception. This promised blessing, claimed by faith, brings all other blessings in its train.” –My Life Today, p. 47.