Did You Receive the Holy Spirit?

Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? (Acts 19:2).

Paul encountered in Ephesus a group of disciples who believed in Jesus, but they had not received the Holy Spirit.  Today’s conventional teaching on the reception of the Holy Spirit and salvation in Jesus’s name rests on the assumption that both are bestowed when one believes in Jesus.  Luke treats the Ephesians as genuine believers in Jesus, yet they lacked the Holy Spirit.  If today’s conventional teaching is true, how is this possible?  It is my belief Paul’s Ephesian encounter exposes a fatal flaw in today’s conventional teaching.  A quick examination of the Scripture demonstrates that the bestowal of the Holy Spirit involves much more than some would have us believe.

Let’s begin with the words of Jesus:

If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And 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.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you (John 14:15-18).

The Counselor or Spirit of truth promised by the Lord refers to the Holy Spirit (see verse 26 to confirm).  Jesus forecasts a day when He would dwell in His disciples through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.   The Lord predicates the reception of the Holy Spirit upon one’s obedience to His commands.  In other words, if one obeys Jesus, the Father will dispatch the Spirit to dwell in them.  Peter later confirms this when addressing the Sanhedrin, “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32).  In both instances, the bestowal of the Holy Spirit rests upon one’s obedience to the Lord.

In addition to obedience, repentance is necessary in order to receive the Holy Spirit.  Peter pleads in Acts 3:19-20:

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus.

Earlier in John we noticed how Jesus comes to His disciples in the form of the Holy Spirit.  Here in Acts, Peter taps into an identical thought:  the Father sends the Christ to those who turn to Him.  Lest we be mistaken, this does not refer to the second appearance of Jesus (see verse 21).  No, this must refer to the indwelling of Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  In this case, Peter predicates the indwelling of the Spirit upon repentance.  If you repent God will forgive your sins, renew you, and send Jesus to dwell in you.

Along with belief, obedience, and repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus is necessary in order to receive the Spirit.  Although the Ephesians were believers, they had not even heard of the Holy Spirit much less received Him in any form.  Paul immediately corrects this by baptizing them in the name of Jesus.  If belief was sufficient, why take this additional step?  This conclusion agrees with Peter’s teaching in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Scripture does not teach that belief in Jesus excludes obedience, repentance, or baptism in the name of Christ as necessary for the reception of the Spirit.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  To be truly converted to Jesus, one must believe in Jesus, obey the Lord’s commands, change their life to walk in righteousness, and unite with the Lord in baptism.  Those who do so receive the promise of the Spirit.

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Wade Stanley Written by:


  1. June 22, 2014

    Many, who profess to be Christians, claim the Jesus is just one of many ways to heaven. If men would simply believe that the Bible is the only inerrant source for truth they could not reach that conclusion.

    John 8:24 “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins;for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”(NKJV)

    If you do not believe that Jesus is the Christ you will die in your sins. No man-made creed book can change that fact. To reject Jesus as the Messiah is the clear path to dying without forgiveness from sins.

    John 4:25-26 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). When He comes, He will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”(NKJV)

    It does not matter how many Bible commentators or self-proclaimed Bible scholars believe Jesus is one of many ways to heaven, Jesus is the only Messiah.

    John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (NKJV)

    One way Jesus.

    Acts 4:10-12…..name of Jesus Christ….12 “Nor is salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”(NKJV)

    Pope Francis says atheists who do good works can go to heaven. Billy Graham proclaims that you do not even have to know the name of Jesus to be part of the body of Christ. Joel Osteen say he does not know if unbelievers will be lost or saved because he cannot judge. These professing Christians are not alone in their views. How sad is that?

    PEW FORUM OF RELIGION AND PUBLIC LIFE: 57% of the evangelical church believes there are many religions that lead to eternal life.


  2. July 9, 2014

    @Steve Finnell Hi Steve. Thanks for your participation. Religious pluralism is a troubling development, particularly when those who profess to believe in Christ legitimize other religions (or the nonreligious). How can someone claim to be a Christian if he or she denies the exclusive claims of Jesus and His apostles?

  3. July 28, 2014

    What is the meaning of calling on the name of the Lord? Many assume that believing in Jesus and saying a form of a sinner’s prayer constitutes, calling on the name of the Lord. The problem with that theory is none of the conversions under the New Covenant support that assumption. Not one time is anyone ever told to believe and say the sinner’s prayer in order to be saved.

    The apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost quoted the prophet Joel, Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (NKJV)

    The apostle Peter preached the first gospel sermon under the New Covenant. Peter did not tell the 3000 converts to believe and say the sinner’s prayer.

    Peter preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He preached Jesus as both Lord and Christ. When they heard this they asked Peter and the rest of the brethren what they should do?(Acts 2:22-37) Peter told them what to do. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(NKJV)

    How did the 3000 on the Day of Pentecost call on the name of the Lord and become saved?
    1. They believed that Jesus was both Lord and Christ.
    2. They believed that God raised Jesus from the grave.
    3. They repented. Repentance is a change of heart. Repentance means to be converted so that God may forgive your sins. Repentance is to make the intellectual commitment to turn from sin and turn toward God. (Acts 3:19, Acts 2:38)
    4. They were immersed in water (baptized) so that their sins could be forgiven.

    How did the 3000 on the Day of Pentecost not call on the name of the Lord?
    1. They did not say a sinner’s prayer.
    2. Not one person was asked to pray for forgiveness.
    3. Not one single man was told to be baptized as a testimony of his faith.
    4. No one was told that water baptism was a just an act of obedience.
    5. No one was informed they were saved the very minute they believed.
    6. Not one person was told that water baptism was not essential for the forgiveness of sins.
    7. Not one person was told to be baptized so they could join a denominational church.

    Jesus said he that believes and is baptized shall be saved. (Mark 16″16) Jesus did not say he who believes and says a sinner’s prayer shall be saved.

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http//:steve-finnell.blogspot.com

  4. Craig H
    July 30, 2014

    @Steve – You are accurate, the Scripture seems clear. I would add that the opponents of baptism often misunderstand what the position of immersion believers really is. They often believe that we think it is a work; of course, maybe some that believe in immersion for the remission of sins miss the point too.
    I have come to the belief that in baptism it is about what is done for us, not about what we do. At most, it is an act that we do in obedience to the Gospel. But God does the rest.

    God brings us into the one body (the Church) – God, through Christ, provided this access.

    We are adopted as Sons

    1 Corinthians 12:13 (NIV)
    13 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.

    Galatians 3:26-27 (NIV)
    26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,
    27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

    Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV)
    3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
    4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

    Salvation is something that happens to us not something we generate by our deeds. We don’t save ourselves. We are saved.

    1 Peter 3:21-22 (NIV)
    21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

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