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The Holy Spirit is an active member of the Trinity and is known by many names– each one an attribute or symbolic of a gift or activity. This article looks at when and how to receive the Holy Spirit.
On the surface this seems simple enough right? I mean we all know when we receive the Holy Spirit just like we all know when we are saved. But as in most things simple, there can be controversy.
You know we can all have an opinion about anything. But as Christians we have to look at the Bible as our truth. Even when we are right, we need to base our truth on the Word.
So what does the Bible say when you receive the Holy Spirit?
Some people believe you receive the Holy Spirit the instant you believe in Jesus Christ. Here are some Bible verses for that perspective.
Roman 8:9 and Ephesians 1: 13-14 are used to back the idea that we receive the Holy Spirit when we first believe. Perhaps Acts 10:44 can also be used to say that we receive the Holy Spirit when we first believe (or hear) the message. Hearing in this context is different than “listen to” since it implies an understanding and an acceptance. If I listen to my wife, it doesn’t mean that I hear her. It is only when I hear her do I understand what she is telling me.
John 3: 3-16 is the famous passage about being born again. In this passage Jesus states plainly that unless we are born again spiritually we will not receive eternal life. Since we receive eternal life through believing in Jesus and because of verse 6 in which it says that Spirit gives birth to spirit, we can expect that once we believe in Jesus we receive His Spirit which is the Holy Spirit.
In John 20: 22 Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on the disciples. He did this when he appeared to them after His resurrection.
More controversial is tongues. In some cases it is claimed to be the only real evidence of the Holy Spirit yet in the book of Galatians chapter five, there is a list of fruits of the spirit that do not include tongues.
This is an interesting topic since there were about five occasions when the early church received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. It is easy to conclude therefore that to have the Holy Spirit means you speak in tongues.
But when these events occurred some would suggest it was not the indwelling of the Holy Spirit but an act of being filled by the Holy Spirit for a specific purpose. Examples of being filled by the Holy Spirit include 1 Samuel 19: 18-24 when Saul was filled with the Spirit of God and began to prophesy. In Luke 1: 15 Zachariah was told that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. There are other mentions of the filling of the Holy Spirit as well such as Acts 4: 8 and Acts 13: 9. In Acts 13: 52 we see the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit after they had already received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The filling of the Holy Spirit at these times was for a specific reason.
And speaking of Pentecost, in Acts 2:4 the disciples received the gift of tongues when the tongues of fire descended upon them. In Acts 10: 44-46 gentiles also receive the ability to speak in tongues when the Holy Spirit came upon them. In Acts 19: 6 disciples in Ephesus received the gift of tongues when Paul placed his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them.
Some people today speak in tongues. The Bible says tongues are a gift of the Holy Spirit as recorded in 1 Cor 12:7-11 and 1 Cor 14 especially verse 5 and again in verse 18 and verse 22. Hebrews 2:4 tells us there are many gifts of the Holy Spirit and that they are distributed according to His will.
Whether we speak in tongues or do not speak in tongues, it is the love of Christ in us that shines forth through the fruits of the Spirit. And after all are we not more called to love than to speak in tongues?