Twenty-four years ago I was sitting in my office at St Kilda Road, Melbourne, with $1 to my name. I had been searching for meaning and purpose all my life through many different religions, denominations and lifestyles. That night I cried out to God in tears to reveal Himself to me, and to tell me where His true church was. Two weeks later, while I was walking on Bondi Beach in Sydney, some young people gave me a book on the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation and their predictions about the kingdoms of the world until the end of time. I was challenged by what I read and was eventually led to receive Bible studies from a local Adventist pastor in Victoria. I was convinced by my discoveries and six months later I was baptised.
I joined a church that was mainly lukewarm. I sat in the pews weekly, paid my tithe when it was convenient, and even took a Sabbath School lesson occasionally. There were very few victories over the besetting sins in my life. I prayed and read the Bible occasionally but never led one person to Jesus in 12 years. I thought I was OK because I was in God’s remnant last-day Church. I didn’t realise that I was in Laodicea.
Just like the early disciples we need the power of the Holy Spirit to witness and finish the work.
It took another crisis for God to get my attention. I left the Church for 12 months but I knew deep down that this Church had been raised up prophetically. I started coming back to church but then something amazing happened. I reluctantly went to a revival weekend about our need for the Holy Spirit. I hadn’t heard much about the Holy Spirit from the pulpit apart from the dangers of the counterfeit. Pastor Dennis Smith, from the US, was the presenter and I was challenged to study about this wonderful Gift—prayed for by Jesus to His Father in John 14:16. I began reading Pastor Smith’s 40-day devotional book, which challenged me to ask daily for the Holy Spirit. Initially I thought I had already received it and it was a one-off filling when I was baptised in water, but as I read the book of Acts and in Ephesians 5:18, where Paul commanded us to “. . . be filled with the Spirit” or “let yourself be continually and repeatedly refilled with the Spirit”, I came to a new understanding.
Everything changed from then on. I had a greater desire to pray, a greater desire to read God’s Word and the writings of Ellen White, a greater desire to witness and to lead people to Jesus, and even a desire to preach about the things I had learned. There was a new desire put in my heart for lifestyle changes and, as Jesus promised, He began to give me victories over the besetting sins in my life. I could relate to Paul, who said about himself: “I die daily” (Galatians 5:18-21).
I always remember a friend of mine saying that Satan can counterfeit the gifts of the Holy Spirit but not the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23 and Ephesians 5:9). I believe that we as Seventh-day Adventists must seek and focus on receiving the true daily baptism of the Holy Spirit of Christ. When we do this, the Spirit’s fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, righteousness, goodness, etc will be seen in the lives of God’s people and the Church.
Adventists have been preaching for more than 150 years on our need for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit in Revelation 18:1-4 in order to share the three angels’ messages of the everlasting gospel in power. But the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy plainly tell us that unless we grow into the likeness of Jesus through the early rain of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18) and are transformed into His image from glory to glory, which has been available since Pentecost, the latter rain will not fall and many of us will miss out.
Seventh-day Adventists have been given the last message to give to the world and we all want to go home but we have work to do. Just like the early disciples we need the power of the Holy Spirit to witness and finish the work: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8 NKJV). It always amazes me what Jesus said in John 14:12: we will do the same works as Jesus. He then goes on to explain that He and the Father will dwell with us and in us through the Holy Spirit so we will be able to do the same works as Him.
I believe God is preparing us now to receive the true early rain daily baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27), to prepare us for the latter rain and the harvest. We have a choice to be either the wise virgins of Matthew 25 who had the extra oil in their lamps and vessels or the foolish virgins who miss out on this blessing out of fear of being deceived by Satan’s counterfeit spiritual activities or by their Laodicean attitude of “I’m OK and in need of nothing”. We must trust God’s Spirit and His Word to guide us into the truth of the Spirit’s working. I have been praying daily for the promises in God’s Word for seven years now and everything has changed.
Colin Hone is a lay evangelist and the prayer ministry coordinator for the North NSW Conference.