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Receiving the Holy Spirit

God has promised the Holy Spirit to those who believe.
"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 promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off— for all whom the Lord our God will call." Acts 2:38,39
Prior to Acts 2 no one had received the Holy Spirit in a manner in which He had been promised in the gospel.
John 7:38,39  "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
But what is the role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian's life? The general role of the Holy Spirit is to aid the Christian in living the Christian life. Jesus' death justifies us. Our sins are forgiven on the basis of his blood. But the Holy Spirit sanctifies us  in the sense of influencing us to behavior appropriately, separating from sin and living righteously.

The Spirit causes the believer to be born of God.

"Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." John 3:6
Though it's an invisible event for now until the son's of God are revealed in glory, those born of God are presently revealed by the affect the Spirit of God has on them.
"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:8
One such affect is the inability to live a lifestyle of sin, but to rather to live a lifestyle characterized by righteousness and love for fellow Christians.
"No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:9,10
The Holy Spirit directs the Christian's life.
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." Rom 8:14
He teaches us the meaning and application of God's Word
"I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." John 14:16,17

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." John 14:26

He empowers us for ministry
"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." 1Cor 12:7
He Helps us to Pray
"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Rom 8:26

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." Rom 8:15

He gives witness to us that we are children of God. And if one does not have the Spirit, then such a person does not belong to Christ.
"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." Rom 8:16

"If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." Rom 8:9b

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Now concerning this point that all those who belong to Christ have the Holy Spirit, there are sects in the Christian community which attempt to make a distinction between receiving the Holy Spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Those who merely "receive" the Holy Spirit are then reckoned as sort of second class members of the body of Christ. The divisiveness of such a doctrine is obvious, but is it legitimate?

Does the Bible indicate that the receiving of the Spirit is synonymous with the baptism of the Spirit?

Peter speaks of receiving the Holy Spirit in Acts 10:47 concerning the conversion of Cornelius. "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." Consider how Peter described this event in more detail. "As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’  So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us." Acts 11:15-17 Thus Peter equates receiving the Holy Spirit with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Not only that but he was also indicating when he himself had received the Spirit. When was that? For during Jesus' earthly ministry - prior to him being glorified - Jesus said, "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. John 7:38,39 Here we see that being given the Spirit, or receiving the Spirit is equated with having streams of living water flowing from within. When did that happen? Considering the circumstances between Cornelius and what Peter experienced, it would appear that such occurred to the apostles in Acts 2.

This is further confirmed by his speech which followed that event. "Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear."Acts 2:33 Notice the order of events. First Jesus was exalted to the right hand of the Father. That's referring to the ascension of Christ 40 days after his resurrection. Then he takes the Spirit and "pours" his out on his people. So here's another description of the receiving or baptism of the Spirit - the pouring out of the Spirit.  Now going back to Cornelius it is written, "The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles." Acts 10:45  Again this confirms that the apostles reception of the Spirit was equivalent to the receiving of the Spirit. And if we continue on with Peter's speech in Acts 2, just a few verses later he says, "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." He makes no distinction between receiving the Spirit and the baptism of the Spirit. For concerning receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit Jesus said to them just prior to Acts 2, "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." Acts 1:5 The gift is the Holy Spirit. Jesus indicates that receiving the Holy Spirit is synonomous with being baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Therefore all who belong to Christ have been baptized with the Holy Spirit, for all have received the Spirit. "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free— and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." 1Cor 12:13

Discussion Questions

If you reckon that you belong to Christ, when do you reckon you received the Holy Spirit?
Or have you?
What was Jesus' overall purpose in giving the Holy Spirit?
What specific roles does the Holy Spirit play in the Christian's life?
What is the difference between receiving the Holy Spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Dec 16,2023