Receiving the Holy Spirit

Posted in: Holy Spirit, 0655
By Dr. Larry Ollison

When a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit moves inside of them to live permanently, for all eternity (John 14:16). When this happens, there are several terms that apply. Some say the person is saved, born again, became a Christian, or received Christ as their Lord and Savior. All of these terms are correct and simply refer to the moment when a person surrenders their life to God. This is when the Scripture says old things pass away, all things become new, and this person is now a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). No longer are they considered a Jew or a Gentile, but now are rather a born-again Christian and a part of the church and body of Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:28).

Although this miraculous life-changing event is the greatest gift from God available to mankind, it is not His final gift. There is a second gift called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, or receiving the Holy Spirit, and what I like to refer to as the second experience.

Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about this second experience.

Before Saul had his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was a leader in the persecution of the church which was at Jerusalem. Because of this great persecution, Christians were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles who remained in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1).

As a result of the scattering of Christians, Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached the gospel to them. As the multitudes of people heard and responded to the truths spoken by Philip, they accepted his teaching and experienced the manifestation of many miracles. Also, demonic spirits were cast out of many people who were possessed and others who were paralyzed or crippled were healed. Of course, the result of all of this was great joy throughout the city (Acts 8:4-8).

Also living in the city of Samaria was a sorcerer named Simon. For a long time he had astonished the people of Samaria and claimed that he was someone great. Before the arrival of Philip, the people of Samaria had called this man “the great power of God” (Acts 8:10) because he had astonished them with his magic for many years.

When the people of Samaria believed everything Philip preached concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they made a public confession by being baptized. In fact, Simon the sorcerer also believed and was baptized. After his baptism, he followed Philip and was amazed when he saw the true miracles and true signs that were done (Acts 8:12-13).

By every biblical standard, the people of Samaria were Christians, because they believed in and confessed the name of Jesus Christ. They openly proclaimed this belief through baptism by a man of God who had been preaching the Word.

When the news of what happened in Samaria reached the apostles in Jerusalem, they were pleased to hear that Samaria had received the Word of God (Acts 8:14). This is another confirmation the people of Samaria were Christians.

The apostles decided to send Peter and John to Samaria. Upon arriving, they prayed for the people of Samaria to receive the Holy Spirit, for as yet He had fallen upon none of them. According to the apostles, the people of Samaria had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, so they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:16-17). The Word definitively proves that even though a person is a Christian and has the Holy Spirit living within their spirit, there is a second experience for the Christian called receiving the Holy Spirit.

The apostles laid hands on the people of Samaria who had already received Jesus as Lord and been baptized. Obviously, receiving the Holy Spirit was more than the apostles simply laying hands on the people of Samaria, because Simon the magician saw something happen that was so dramatic that he asked to purchase this power the apostles possessed (Acts 8:19).

Truly, receiving the Holy Spirit is a second experience for those who have received Jesus as Lord that can either be received or quenched. Remember, as a believer we only receive what we believe.

Devotion 655