The Gift of the Holy Spirit
Christians are not called upon to go in their own strength (Ephesians 6:10). No one is able to repent or believe on their own. No one figures it all out and then decides for the Christian faith and then makes a decision to believe and then lives that belief. Such a thought turns the Christian faith into a mere religion or philosophy, a good and sensible way of living that one would do well to embrace. There are too many places in the world where embracing the Christian faith is neither sensible nor practical; indeed, it is downright dangerous. And yet those people live it to the fullest in the midst of persecution. How? Because the Christian faith is not a religion but a miracle, and anytime someone comes to saving faith, it is as great a miracle as the creation world, for here a soul is reborn. The Christian faith is not an idea; getting saved is not an event; the Bible is not a book. The Christian faith is the divine original; the rebirth of the soul a new creation; and, the Bible the very word of God.
Peter said, “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 part we have yet to cover is “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Now we must understand that the Holy Spirit was already at work on that person implanting faith in the heart, for faith itself is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). And so the person comes to saving faith as the Holy Spirit works within. But upon receiving that saving faith, the Holy Spirit does come and take up residence in that person’s heart (or soul) in such a way that he ever abides within that reborn person (Romans 8:1-30; 1 Corinthians 6:19). So the gift of the Holy Spirit is the reception of his presence within, which is then our strength, our joy, our guarantee of the life to come, as well as the one who empowers us to live a holy life and grants us gifts for ministry.
And then Peter proclaims the wonderful news that the promise, which is the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, is not only for them but their children, those far off (either in sin or just plain unbelievers or pagans), everyone whom the Lord calls to himself. And the point here is not to wonder, “How many has the Lord called,” but that he calls anyone, and indeed, many: 3000 in this instance! Another advance the New Testament makes on the Old is that the gospel call goes out to many nations, not just one, to multitudes, not just a few. But in the end, it is all a miracle. Saving faith (not just any faith) is a miracle; the will to repent is a miracle; the desire for personal holiness is a miracle. And the gift is the Spirit himself – the greatest miracle of all.