When Does A Christian Receive the Holy Spirit?

 

Why is it important to know if, when, how, and for how long a person today receives God the Holy Spirit into his/her life? Well, it indicates whether we have to do something as a prerequisite, whether we are a true believer and, therefore, a child of God (Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:5, 6), whether we have eternal life guaranteed us (Eph. 1:13, 14; 4:30; 2 Cor. 5:5), and whether we have the ability to have the fruit of the Spirit to live a Christ-like life (Ga. 5:16, 2, 23).

 

Jn. 7:37-39           When would those who believed in Christ receive the Holy Spirit?

 

                When was Jesus glorified (Jn. 12:16, 23, 24, 33; 13:21, 31; 14:16, 17, 26; 16:5, 7; 17:1; 19:16; 20:17; Acts 1:8-11)?

 

                [“glorified” – made splendid; manifesting all that He is; magnified; honored; especially of the resurrection and ascension of Christ – Vine’s An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, p. 482; Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p. 409].

[This passage contains the distinct promise that “all” in this dispensation (era in which God chooses to work and relate to mankind after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension) who believe on Him receive the Spirit when they believe.].

 

Acts 11:17; 10:45               When did the first Christian Gentiles receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?

 

                [This is Peter’s account of the first preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles.  He states that the Gentiles received the Spirit when they believed as had happened to the Jews.  The one condition was believing on Christ for salvation and the Spirit was received as a vital part of that salvation for these Gentiles.  The Greek word “pisteusasin” is in the first aorist participle in the dative case, meaning “having believed” or “after/upon believing”.  The aorist active tense indicates “finished action in time past”, and here means “upon completion of the act of believing” and the dative case means that “believing” is the object of the preposition “after”.].

 

Rom. 5:1, 2, 5                       What does Paul say is true of all of these Christians at Rome as well as of himself (vs. 5)?

 

                [When else, except at the moment of salvation, could this have been true for all of them since it was a city full of Christians who would be at different stages of spiritual maturity?].

 

Rom. 8:9                What is a prerequisite for belonging to Christ (that is, being a child of God or a Christian)?

 

                [This verse teaches that the very fact of salvation is to be tested by the Spirit’s presence.  A person can’t even be a child of God, a Christian, unless he/she has the Holy Spirit.].

 

Rom. 8:23             What does Paul say that all of them (believers at Rome plus himself) have?

 

                [There is no reference here to some class or grade of Christian or to some prerequisite religious experience, but rather “all” these Christians at Rome have the “first fruits (Gk. “aparchen”) of the Spirit”. The first fruits were the first of something similar yet to come (e.g., Num. 18:12, 13). In Rom. 11:16; 16:5; 1 Cor. 15:20, 44; 16:15; James 1:18; Rev. 14:4, it shows that the “first fruits” means “first or first part”. Here in Rom. 8:23, it means the “first part of God’s work of salvation in the believer”. The regenerating work (Titus 3:5; Jn. 3:6) and indwelling presence (Rom. 8:9) of the Holy Spirit is given to believers now as the guarantee and foretaste of the future inheritance and the ultimate redemption of their bodies to be bestowed at the resurrection or rapture – 1 Thes. 4:14-17; 2 Cor. 1:21, 22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13, 14; 4:30; Phil. 3:20, 21; 1 Cor. 15:42-44, 48-53; Rom. 13:11.].

 

Eph. 1:13, 14        When were these Ephesian Christians sealed with the Holy Spirit?

 

                [Again, the reference is to “all” believers, when they believed at the point of salvation.  As in Acts 11:17 above, the Greek word here, “pisteusantes”, is in the aorist active participle form, but nominative case, meaning “having believed”, or upon completion of the act of believing.”].

 

1 Cor. 2:12           Who received the Spirit who is from God?

 

                [The reference once again is not to a class or spiritual-maturity level of believer, but “all” these Christians at Corinth had received the Holy Spirit, even though many of them were carnal/fleshly/worldly/backslidden, 3:1-3.].

 

1 Cor. 6:19, 20                     What were these Christians’ bodies called?

 

                [This again is not a reference to some class of very holy Christians.  The context reveals them to be guilty of serious sin, yet the fact that the Spirit indwells them is made the basis of this appeal.  They are not told that unless they cease from sin, they will get the Spirit, but rather that because the Holy Spirit indwells them, they should live holy lives.  Only at the point of salvation could this be true of all of them.].

 

1 Cor. 12:13         Who was baptized into one body by the Holy Spirit?

 

                [The same sinful Corinthian Christians are included in the word “all” here.  If a certain level of holiness had to be achieved before receiving the Holy Spirit, then “all” of these wouldn’t have been baptized in the Spirit, since many in this group were living carnal or sinful lives.].

 

2 Cor. 5:5; 1:21, 22            Who was given as a pledge or guarantee of life hereafter in heaven?

 

                [Gk. “arrabona” – means “pledge, deposit, guaranteeing what is to come”].

                [Not just some believers, but to “all” of the Christians at Corinth, God gave the Spirit.].

 

Gal. 3:2, 3             What question does Paul ask these Galatian Christians in verse two?

 

 

                [The answer to Paul’s rhetorical question is obviously the latter, “hearing (the gospel) with faith” (in it).  Nothing else was required, only faith in the gospel, 1:4, 9, 11; 2:16.].

 

Gal. 4:5, 6             Why did God send forth the Sprit into these Galatians’ hearts?

 

                [Because they were “sons” (God gave them the Holy Spirit), not because they were “sanctified”, extra holy, sought after the Spirit, or spoke in tongues.].

 

                And how or when does a person become a son/child of God (Jn. 1:12)?

 

Three Passages that Seem to be Confusing or Contradictory

 

Acts 5:32              To whom has God given the Holy Spirit?

 

                [This is not the daily life obedience of a Christian, but rather an appeal to unsaved people for “the obedience of faith” (6:7; Rom. 1:5; 16:25, 26).  This passage teaches that the Spirit is given to those who “obey God” regarding the placing of their faith in His Son the Savior.  God gave the Holy Spirit to those Israelites who “obeyed Him” by repenting – that is, by changing their mind about Jesus being a blasphemer to one of believing in Him as God’s Son and Savior, which is the gospel.  God spoke through His apostles and commanded people to repent or, in other words, believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.  The context is clear – vss. 30, 31, 42, as is the broader context of 2:36-38; 3:14-19, and the still broader context of 1 Jn. 3:23; 2 Thes. 1:6, 8; 1 Pet. 4:17; Acts 16:31. Also, from the synonymous parallelism in comparing the quote of Rom. 10:16 with Isa. 53:1, we see that to “heed” (obey), Rom. 10, is to “believe”, Isa. 53, and “the glad tidings” (gospel), Rom. 10, is the “report” (message), Isa. 53. Thus, to obey God is to believe God regarding the gospel message that Jesus is His Son and Savior, who died to pay for the believer’s sins (1 Cor. 15:1-4). And in Jn. 3:36, “belief” in the Son is contrasted with “not obeying” (NASB) or “disbelieving” (KJV) or “rejecting” (NIV) the Son. Judgment is the result of “not obeying” the gospel (2 Thes. 1:8, 9), which is the same as “not believing” the gospel, the good news about Jesus being the Savior, the Christ, who died to pay for all the believer’s sins so he/she will have eternal life.].

 

Acts 8:14-17        For what did Peter and John pray?

 

                [This incident falls within the brief period between Pentecost in Acts 2 and the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles in Acts 10.  The conditions existing at that time should not be taken as the final relationship between the Spirit and all believers throughout the Church Age. Rather, it was a sign to the Hebrew Christians that all people (including Samaritans whom the Jews hated, because the Samaritans were half Jew and half Gentile in ethnic background) were to be included in the kingdom of God upon their belief in Christ. “All believers” were/are now God’s chosen people, 2 Thes. 2:13; Col. 3:12 with 1:2-4; Acts 26:15-18 with 2 Tim. 2:10.].

 

Acts 19:1-6           How did these disciples of John the Baptist at Ephesus answer Paul’s question as to whether they received the Holy Spirit when they believed?

 

                [These disciples of John the Baptist knew little of Christ, or the way of salvation by believing, or of the Holy Spirit.  They were not yet Christians, but rather were believers in John’s message of a baptism of/signifying repentance (a change in their thinking from one of believing that being a descendant of Abraham was enough to get them into the kingdom of God to realizing that they were sinful and needed to believe in the soon-to-come Messiah for entrance into His kingdom, Matt. 3:2, 6, 9).  After Paul makes the purpose for John’s baptism more clear, as to its relationship to Christ, these Ephesians upon hearing it get baptized/immersed in the name of the Lord Jesus – Christian baptism.  Apparently at this point of hearing the gospel is when they believed it and were, therefore, saved.  It was at this point that Paul laid hands on them.  The laying on of Paul’s hands was merely to represent apostolic approval of the fact that these O.T. era saints – who were followers of John’s teachings – were to be included also in the N.T. Church, Christ’s body.].