1. Have You Received the Holy Spirit When You Believed?
In Acts 19:1-2, when the apostle Paul met some disciples in Ephesus, he asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” They received the baptism of water by John the Baptist, but did not receive the Holy Spirit as a gift by accepting Jesus Christ in their heart.
So the apostle Paul preached Jesus Christ, they heard it, and were baptized by the name of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul laid his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:4-7).
God said “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions (Joel 2:28). It was fulfilled, and today those who have received the Holy Spirit gathered and formed churches. But there are many people who attend church and say they believe in God without even knowing what the Holy Spirit is and what the baptism of Holy Spirit is.
Holy Spirit is the gift of God that God gives to those who gained the right to become His children by accepting Jesus. So if we do not even know what the Holy Spirit is, how can we say we are God’s children? Today, only when we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and He dwells in our heart can we be called God’s children.
Therefore, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 says, “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”
2. How Can We Receive the Holy Spirit?
Acts 2:38-39 says, “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. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Namely, whoever confesses that he is a sinner and believes in Jesus as his Savior will be forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit as a gift.
Also, Luke 11:13 says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” In the Bible, when it was unlawful for Jews to have fellowship or interact with the Gentiles, the apostle Peter went to the house of Cornelius and preached Jesus Christ. Cornelius was a gentile, but he feared God.
Then, the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius and those who longed to listen to the Word of God (Acts 10:1-46). This tells us that God does not look at the appearances of men but gives the Holy Spirit to those who fear God and believe in Him as their Father.
Holy Spirit is gift of God given into the hearts of those who recognize themselves as sinners, accept Jesus Christ, and receive the forgiveness by believing in His name. If we understand this fact, we must have received the Holy Spirit when we believed.
3. The Evidences After Receiving the Holy Spirit
Among those who attend church and profess that they believe in God, there are many people who do not know whether or not they have received the Holy Spirit. So, let us consider the evidences that follow children of God who have received the Holy Spirit. We should be able to check our faith and have assurance that we are God’s children who have received the Holy Spirit.
(1) We try to keep God’s word
Before receiving the Holy Spirit, we could not love God because we did not have peace with God due to our sins. But once we receive the Holy Spirit, we come to love God. 1 John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”
Those who have received the Holy Spirit become thankful for the love and grace of God who has forgiven them, so they come to love God. Also, because their dead spirits were revived, they come to communicate with God and thus realize God’s will. They come to know that God’s commandments were given to His children with His love.
Before being born again through water and the Holy Spirit, it is hard us to understand the Bible and God’s Word because we read the Bible and listen to God’s Word with human reasoning. But once we receive the Holy Spirit, we come to hear and read God’s Word with inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so we realize God’s will and keep it in mind spiritually.
Therefore, God’s children who have received the Holy Spirit try to keep God’s commandments that is the way, truth, and life, and leads us to the way of eternal life.
(2) We want to obey God’s Word with joy.
God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). If we realize this love of God, we cannot but love God and obey His Word.
Those who have become God’s children by receiving the Holy Spirit would want to obey God’s Word because they are so thankful for the love of God who redeemed them from their sins. To the extent that we come to understand God’s love, we become more thankful, and to the extent that we feel thankful in our heart, we will obey God’s Word with joy.
God accepts this obedience pleasingly and loves us. Among those who have received the Holy Spirit, there are also people who have weak faith. They are willing to obey God’s Word, but due to their own thoughts and theories, they cannot come to obey with action. Even in this case, God is delighted with their willingness to obey His Word. These people should grow in spirit through prayers so that they will be able to obey in truth.
(3) We want to live a clean life
1 John 5:18 says, “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.” If we are born again by receiving the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit dwells in our heart, so we come to hate sins and evil but try to stay in goodness and light. This way we come to resemble the purity of the Lord, and God protects us from the enemy devil not to touch us to the extent that we do not have sin.
What, then, is sin? 1 John 3:4 says, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” Just as we become a criminal if we break the law of a country, there is law in God who is spirit. It is the law of the spiritual realm, which is never-changing Word of God, the truth. If we violate the Word of God written in the Bible, it is to do unlawful things and commit sins. Then, God does not protect us.
Sins can generally be divided into things of the flesh and works of the flesh. Romans 13:14 says, “Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Things of the flesh refer to attributes of sins that can come out as action, such as envy, jealousy, hatred, and adulterous mind that have not yet come out as action. When we actually put these things into action, it is the work of the flesh. That is why Galatians 5:19-21 says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
If we commit works of the flesh in this way, it is to do something lawless and commit sins. God considers as sin not only works of the flesh shown on the outside, but also things of the flesh that is in one’s heart. He also tells us to get rid of all kinds of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
Before we are born again through the Holy Spirit, we do not receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit and we followed the desires of the flesh to bear fruit of sin and evil. but if we are born again, we follow the desire of the Holy Spirit, so when we commit lawlessness, we can hear the groaning of the Holy Spirit. We can then follow the truth and try to live a holy and clean life.
(4) We begin to love brothers in faith deeply.
1 John 4:20-21 says, “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” If we are born again through the Spirit, we know those who are born of God are our brothers and come to love them. Because we love God, we love and try to serve the church, which is the body of Christ, the pastors, and brothers in faith.
(5) We overcome the world with faith
1 John 5:4 says, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.” Once we receive the Holy Spirit, gain the right to become God’s children, and give birth to spirit through the Holy Spirit, we come to have spiritual faith, gain hope for heaven with the help of the Holy Spirit, and follow God’s will not compromising with the world that causes us to commit lawless and unrighteous things. This is putting the truth into practice with the faith in Jesus Christ, who has overcome the world, and the evidence that follows those who have received the Holy Spirit.
(6) We come to have assurance of salvation
If we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, we have the witness in us (1 John 5:6, 5:10), and it is the evidence that we have received the Holy Spirit. We keep God’s Word eating the body and drinking the blood of the Lord, so we gain faith, hope, and assurance about the kingdom of heaven. we can then have the assurance of salvation seeing the evidence that the Lord is with us. On the one hand, even if we have been a believer for a long time, we would not have the assurance of salvation if we have not received the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, even a new-believer would have the assurance of faith once he is sealed in his heart with the Holy Spirit.
(7) We gain the assurance of receiving what we ask in prayer
1 John 5:15 says, “And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” Once we become God’s children by receiving the Holy Spirit, we know that God is our Father, so we naturally ask Him and believe He will answer us. The Holy Spirit lets us realize that God answers us only if we love our brothers, keep God’s commandments, and ask God with the assurance of salvation.
(8) We put our first priority in God
Once we realize the will of God who loves us until He gave His one and only Son, we put our first priority in God following His will. Namely, if we were liars, we stop telling lies; if we hated others, we come to love others; if we were not peacemaker, we become peacemakers. We come out from darkness into light and follow the way of truth with which God is delighted. Our lives changed into the ones that God wants, and this is the evidence that we received the Holy Spirit.