The believer’s receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit does not depend in any way upon his own merits; it depends solely upon the all-sufficiency of Christ’s atonement. It is through faith, not by works, “that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14).
This idea agrees with Jesus’ final charge to His disciples just before His ascension: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Jesus was speaking about the baptism in the Holy Spirit that the disciples would receive at Pentecost.
The phrase “the Promise of My Father” gives us wonderful insight into the mind and purpose of God the Father concerning the gift of the Holy Spirit. Someone conservatively estimated that the Bible contains seven thousand distinct promises given by God to His believing people. But among these, Jesus singled out just one from all the rest as being unique: the promise of the Spirit.
Paul called this “the blessing of Abraham” (Galatians 3:14), thus linking it with the supreme purpose of God in choosing Abraham for Himself. When God first called Abraham out of Ur, He said, “I will bless you…; and you shall be a blessing.…And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2–3). In subsequent dealings with Abraham, God reaffirmed His purpose many times. “I will bless you….In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:17–18). All these promises of God looked forward to Paul’s words: “the promise of the Spirit” (Galatians 3:14). Jesus shed His blood on the cross to purchase this blessing, promised to the seed of Abraham.