Receiving of the Holy Ghost
How to Receive the Holy Ghost
How do you receive the Holy Ghost? Do you receive it when you are baptized, the moment you repent, or when you're born? Many views have risen over the years on this topic; but we need to be certain as to what the truth is, because of this verse.
" But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
- Romans 8:9
This verse is clearly saying that in order for us to be a possession of God we need His Spirit living in us.
Now the question we should be asking is, " How and when do I receive the Holy Ghost, and how do I know I have it?" Lovingly, Jesus gave us the answer in His word. The first instance we see of receiving the Holy Ghost is found in Acts 2:1-4,
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
The initial sign you have received the Holy Ghost is that you will speak in other tongues.
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;"
- Mark 16:17
"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?"
- Acts 10:44-47
"And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;"
- Acts 15:8
That is how we know we have it. We will begin to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gives us utterance.
So now we need to know how to receive it. Acts 2:38 says,
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
The only way one can receive the Holy Spirit is true repentance. It's a gift, and God won't bless us with it unless we humble ourselves, and turn from our sins. Proverbs 28:13 says,
"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."
You can not make excuses for your sins. No matter what you try to do or believe, your conscience bares witness that we need to turn from them. It's more than just confession, or feeling bad. But to literally turn from them. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says,
"For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death."
This verse says that there are those that feel bad about the wrong they have done, but they never actually turn from their sins. True contrition results in true repentance, ( that of utterly forsaking our sins.)
" I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
- Luke 13:3
The only way to receive the Holy Ghost is to be saved; and the only way to be saved is by repenting, trusting in Jesus alone to save us. We see this clearly in Acts chapter eight.
There was a sorcerer in Samaria named Simon, whom all the people believed in. But when Philip preached the gospel, they all forsook Simon and followed the preaching of Jesus instead. Simon believed also; he was baptized and continued with the apostles.
"Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed.
And there was great joy in that city.
But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:
To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done."
- Acts 8:5-13
But the Bible shows us the true state of this man's heart. Simon believed in what Philip was saying, but he did not repent. He had sorrow of the world, merely acknowledging his sins, but not truly turning from them.
Afterward, the apostles sent Peter and John to lay their hands on the people, that they would receive the Holy Ghost.
" Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:
Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."
- Acts 8: 14 - 17
But when Simon asked for the Holy Ghost, Peter could see his intentions.
" And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
But Peter said unto him, thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity."
- Acts 8: 18 - 23
Simon did not truly see the gift of God, but rather viewed it as an income. Peter told him he was in the bond of iniquity and in the gall of bitterness. His heart wasn't right in the sight of God, and he needed to repent. Merely believing in Jesus isn't enough, and being baptized without first turning from our sins is just getting wet. He could not receive the Holy Ghost because he had not truly repented.
Another reason some Christians haven't received the Holy Ghost is found in Acts 19: 1- 7
" And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
And all the men were about twelve."
We see here that these men believed, yet Paul asked if they had received the Holy Ghost. If the Holy Ghost was received the moment we believe, then why did Paul ask if they had received it yet? These men were not aware of their need for the Holy Ghost; they didn't even know about it. In verse 6, Paul laid his hands on them and the Holy Ghost came on them . They spoke with tongues and prophesied.
Acts 1: 4-5 says,
" And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. "
Verse eight goes on the say,
" But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. "
The apostles were soundly saved, but Jesus very clearly told them that they did not have the Holy Ghost. But He promised them that they would receive it. In Acts 2: 38, God fulfilled that promise and gave them His Spirit, evidenced by speaking in tongues. When we are saved, we are sealed with the promise of receiving the Holy Ghost; but we are not filled with it at repentance. Tongues is the initial sign that God gave us His Spirit.
Ephesians 1: 13 say,
" In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, "
The moment we repent, we are sealed with the promise of receiving God's Spirit, but not automatically filled with it. 2 Corinthians 6: 2 says,
" ( For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. ) "
The day we repent, God secures our salvation. We chose to serve Christ; and now we are saved, but not born again. Acts 2: 38 clearly states the full salvation plan. After we turn from our sins, we need to ask God for His Spirit. He promises to grant us that prayer, even if it takes a little time.
These brethren hadn't asked God for His Spirit because they didn't understand what it means to have the Holy Spirit. They didn't even know about it. ( Luke 11:13 )
" If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him? "
Are we born with the Holy Ghost
All babies belong to God.
" Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. "
~ Psalm 127: 3
" Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it. "
~ Deut. 1:39
When a child is aware of what sin is, they have now entered into the age of accountability. Example: when a child knows it is wrong to lie, steal, cuss, etc. they now know the difference between right and wrong. Until this point God doesn't hold their sins against them because they don't understand what sin is; they are not expected to repent. And as it is explained above, one can only receive the Holy Ghost after they have repented. If a child dies before they understand sin, they automatically go to heaven. By obeying Acts 2 :38 from the heart we become as little children; and God doesn't hold our sins against us.
" And said, verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
~ Matthew 18: 3
A New Heart
Some people believe that the Holy Ghost comes to live in them the moment they repent. Their desires have changed; they become hungry for the word of God, and start reading the Bible. When they sin they become instantly aware that it is wrong, and resist it. They start paying back debts they owe, and get rid of anything they own that is displeasing to God.
" And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.
Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. "
~ Acts 19: 18 - 19
They believe they have been given the Holy Ghost; they have been convinced that they are now born again. Well, at true repentance ones' heart does literally change. They HAVE been given a new heart. At repentance God takes out the stony heart and gives us a heart of flesh. God can now work with a heart of flesh, and begins to mold us into what is pleasing to him.
" A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. "
~ Ezekiel 36: 26
That is why at true repentance one begins to make changes in their life. They have a strong desire to get to know God. They are now saved. We are saved at repentance, but not born again.
" ( For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
~ 2 Corinthians 6: 2
And unless one is born again they can not enter into the Kingdom of God.
" Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. "
~ John 3: 3
Born Again is described in Acts 2:38 (refer to salvation page). Once someone is born again; as long as they continue there in, they are heaven bound.
" Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. "
~ Romans 11: 22
So, yes, you get a new heart at repentance which is why you see a change in your life, but the Holy Spirit is not automatically given at repentance, you still need to obey the rest of Acts 2:38.
Do you receive the Holy Ghost when you are baptized
Some people think they automatically receive the Holy Ghost when they are baptized, with no sign or proof at all of having received it. But the scriptures show us that some receive the Holy Ghost before baptism. (Acts 8:12; Acts 8:14-17; Acts 10:44-48). We have the promise of receiving the Holy Ghost the moment we repent and trust in Jesus. God promises to give us his Spirit. Repentance is always the first step. But baptism and the Holy Ghost have no specific order. If the Holy Ghost was received at baptism, no one would receive it prior to baptism. The scripture says repent, which is always the first step; be baptized, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The disciples are our example as how to be saved and born again. You simply read what they did and look at different instances where people were baptized and where people were filled with the Holy Ghost, rightly dividing the Word of God. At repentance, we are forgiven and accepted of God, and at baptism through His name, JESUS, our sins are washed away and we are made clean through His blood. When we receive God's Spirit, it is proof not only to yourself, but to others also, that you belong to God. He puts His seal on you. ( Acts 15: 8 )