What does it mean to “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” ?

In chapter 3 of Hope Reborn, we list four steps which are part of the normal process of becoming a Christian and beginning your Christian life. The first one is explained in that chapter which is available free here, and today we share our explanation of what we believe Peter meant by “receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit.”

In the next step, the Apostle Peter promises to those who repent and are baptized, “you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

STEP THREE: RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

BE EMPOWERED TO LIVE YOUR NEW LIFE AS A CHRISTIAN.


The Holy Spirit is very much God (see The Trinity and you). He is not a force or a power, but a person. As such, the Apostle Peter invites everybody who has repented and turned to Jesus to also receive the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is at work in every Christian, not just a select few. We learn in John 3:8 that the Holy Spirit causes us to be born again. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is at work in you even before you decide to become a Christian, showing you your sin, and drawing you to Jesus (John 16:8).

Every Christian has Jesus living inside of them by the Holy Spirit. Christ’s resurrection power is at work in us all, transforming us from the inside out, and producing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

When Peter talks here about “receiving” the Holy Spirit into our lives, this refers to us becoming aware of the Spirit as a person, and entering a relationship with Him.

Like the wind, we cannot see the Spirit, but we can see evidence of His presence by what He is doing. However, we can experience the work of the Holy Spirit in a dynamic way. The Bible invites us to “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The tense of the verb is continuous so it could also be translated “be being filled.” Other verses which also suggest being filled with the Spirit is not a once-for-all thing include Ephesians 1:17 and 3:19, Colossians 1:11, Acts 4:8, 4:31, 13:9 and 13:52. All Christians are invited to consciously, and continuously welcome the Holy Spirit, and invite Him to work in our lives.

Jesus promised to give the Holy Spirit to anyone who comes to Him:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)

It is very possible to become a Christian without much in the way of an emotional experience. We are not saved because we cried, or because something dramatic happened. Everybody’s story is different. However, over time, you will become aware of the effects of the Holy Spirit’s work in you, some of which are outlined as follows:

AN ENABLING TO SPEAK ABOUT JESUS WITH OTHERS

The disciples had been told to wait in Jerusalem until they received power from the Holy Spirit to take the gospel all over the world (Acts 1:8). He equips and empowers us in all kinds of ways to serve God, and gives us boldness to do works for God today (Acts 4:31).

A FEELING OF INCLUSION AMONG GOD’S PEOPLE

The Holy Spirit confirms that you are really a Christian:

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6)

The outpouring of the Spirit is one of the marks that identify God’s people (Acts 2:39). We are born into His family, and the Holy Spirit gives us a sense of belonging. No longer does God’s Spirit only rest on specific individuals as in Old Testament times; now He is available to everyone.

A RESTORED RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

Through the Holy Spirit, God speaks to our hearts. He lives within us. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

It is very possible to become a Christian without much in the way of an emotional experience.

There is so much more that the
Holy Spirit can do for you if you ask.
The work of the Spirit will further establish you in your walk with God. You will grow in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5).

We encourage you to find out more about Him, and to invite the Spirit to work in you to glorify Jesus, revealing Him to you (John 16:14).

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock is a medical doctor, a writer, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he serves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus. Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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  • http://www.ChristCrucified.info/ Peter Newman

    Adrian, are you equating “receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit” with the act of salvation or with the baptism in the Holy Spirit? It would seem that the apostle Peter explained what it meant to “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts Chapters 10:44-47 and 11:15-17. Peter told the brethren in Jerusalem that Cornelius and his household had received “the gift of the Holy Spirit” when they had been “baptized in the Holy Spirit” as evidenced by their speaking in tongues. You can read my own take on this topic at http://christcrucified.info/issues.html#issue3. Thanks, Peter

  • http://www.gloryfocus.com Jason Dollar

    I am grateful to know the Holy Spirit lives inside me and is working out my sanctification for the glory of God. I am thankful to know that the Holy Spirit indwells his church and is forming her to look like the Savior. People are going to quibble with you about particulars, which of course we need to do. There are nuances that need to be discussed, worked-out, theologized, etc. But I hope believers are not so focused on carefully stated nuances that we miss the overwhelming reality (which we all believe) that God, the Holy Spirit, is actually with us, and in us, right now, uniting us to Christ, directing our lives, and forming us into the image of Christ. May he never be quenched!


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