I cannot begin to count the number of times I have given a Gospel invitation. It is a wonderful moment when you witness God change someone's life. I love to tell people that Jesus died on the cross to forgive their sin and offer them eternal life in Heaven with God. However, I recently realized I've been leaving out a major piece of the puzzle we call salvation.
You see, I never forget to tell people that Jesus offers the wonderful gift of forgiveness - a forgiveness so complete that all our past, present and future sins are covered by this gift, but there is more. That's right. Salvation is actually better than you thought! There is a promise we rarely talk about, or at least a promise I rarely talk about. This promise is the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 2:38 Peter says, "And Peter said to them, '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.'"
This announcement comes right after an incredible sermon Peter gives at Pentecost. Even though the book of Acts is mostly a narrative of the early days of Christianity surrounding the Apostles, we find a major piece of doctrine in Peter's words we must not miss.
Peter very clearly says, "repent and be baptized...for the forgiveness of sin...and the gift of the Holy Spirit." Our faith in Jesus absolutely secures for us the forgiveness of sin that we all so desperately need. It is this great act of grace that puts us in right standing with God. It is the move that purchased our eternal life with God; however, that's not the end of the story. Our salvation includes the gift of the Holy Spirit! Peter mentions this fact because the gift of the Holy Spirit is equally as important to the Christian as his or her forgiveness. The gift of the Holy Spirit is vitally important to understand how the Christian life works.
The Holy Spirit is given so that we would have the wisdom and power of God to give us a mission, guide us in life and cause us to grow in the likeness of Jesus over the course of our lives. When we fail to recognize the Holy Spirit as a gift we receive right along with our forgiveness, we end up living for ourselves and lacking a distinct sense of mission. The Holy Spirit is constantly working to move us toward spiritual growth and greater and greater involvement in His mission. The presence of the Holy Spirit ought to set the expectation that eternal life begins NOW and we are able, because of Him, to live for God daily.
I have often failed to mention the Holy Spirit when I present the Gospel. Why? Frankly, because it sounds weird to talk about Him, but that is a weak argument. The Holy Spirit is integral in our lives as Christians. Honestly, the Holy Spirit is no more strange than the idea that sinful humans can be forgiven! Too many people come to Jesus and receive forgiveness and are never told how to live the Christian life and never told that they have a vital friend in the Holy Spirit to guide them in the meantime between now and when we leave this life.
If you are a pastor, I ask you to join me in reminding people of the gift of the Holy Spirit as much as we remind people of the gift of forgiveness. If you are a Christian, I urge you to remember that the Holy Spirit lives within you to empower you to live for God every day.