“Repent .. 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
If the Lord has called you to be His child, then the promise of the Holy Spirit is for you.
But it does not take place automatically at conversion.
We know that to be a fact, because Paul:
“found some disciples and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’” Acts 19:2
And on another occasion:
“When the Apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.
When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:14-17
How do we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?
From many Bible verses it can be seen that the Spirit is given in response to prayer, and also it is received by faith:
“so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” Galatians 3:14
The motive has to be right for being filled with the Holy Spirit. It can’t be for personal gain or pride.
Jesus gave one of the most important reasons for wanting the Holy Spirit’s power. He told the disciples after His resurrection in these verses:
“This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
I am going to send you what My Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:46-49
God has many ways of doing things, some loud, some in a whisper, so we mustn’t dictate to God what constitutes our filling!
We mustn’t fake our filling with the Holy Spirit, just so that we can ‘fit in’ with the rest of the group. And we mustn’t judge someone else’s experience by our own experience.
Some Christians may have experienced something which changed them spiritually years ago, but they never put a name to that experience, or experiences.
That may well have been the filling of the Holy Spirit. It was only because of a lack of understanding that they didn’t realize what had happened, but looking back at it, they did experience the Holy Spirit coming upon them.
Can anyone be filled more than once?
From the Bible we can see that Jesus’ followers were filled again:
“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31
Possibly the first filling would be the ‘seal’ of assurance and sonship, as well as power for witnessing.
Thereafter there could be more fillings to give boldness and power.
(We will look at an explanation of the different words that are used to describe the filling of the Holy Spirit in a later post.)