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Receiving the Holy Spirit

Jesus told the disciples to “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:19-23) but He also told them wait for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5).  So what did they receive when Jesus blew on them Resurrection Sunday, and how is that receiving of the Holy Spirit different than what they were told to wait for?

God’s Word shows us that there are two distinct receivings of the Holy Spirit, each for different purposes. The first “receiving” is when we become “Born Again” (John 3:3-8, 2 Corinthians 5:17, John 1:12-13, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Ephesians 2:5-6, 1 Peter 1:2-3, 1 Peter 1:22-25) by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit that gives our spirit new birth and He marks us and seals us as God’s children (Ephesians 1:3-14). The second “receiving” is when we become “Spirit-filled” (John 14:17, Ephesians 5:18, Luke 1:15, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Acts 1:8, Acts 2:4, Acts 4:31, Acts 6:3, Acts 9:17, Romans 8:9) by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to give us power, gifts to equip, enable and activate us into God’s plan for our life…it is this receiving, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, where we can now be lead by the Holy Spirit and discern His voice.  We can become both Born Again and Spirit-filled at the same moment – the moment we hear with faith and believe (Galatians 3:2), first fall in love with Jesus (1 John 4:19, Jeremiah 2:2, Revelation 2:4), repent and decide to follow him, or they can happen years apart.

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THE FIRST RECEIVING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT – Resurrection Sunday “Born Again” Receiving (Salvation & Authority)

When we hear the Word of God and believe it to be true we are supernaturally cut to the heart (Acts 3:37-38) by the Sword of the Holy Spirit which is the Word of God. When we first believe that Jesus is the son of God and that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:8-13) me meet the two requirements for salvation and we become “Born Again” and receive the Holy Spirit who seals us for eternity (Ephesians 1:13-14).

“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 for adoption to sonship 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. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”  Ephesians 1:3-14

The word “deposit” in Ephesians 1:14 is the Greek word “Arrabon” which means “Engagement Ring.”  So Ephesians 1:13-14 could read like this:

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is an engagement ring guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in.  The Holy Spirit is our engagement ring.  We are engaged to Jesus Christ as the Bride of Christ – betrothed to Him and waiting for our being gathered to Him for our coming wedding day (Revelation 19:7-10).

With this first receiving of the Holy Spirit we are saved, born again, no longer orphans (John 14:18) but adopted (Ephesians 1:5, Galatians 4:4-7, Romans 8:14-24) as God’s child, sealed for redemption and given authority (John 20:20-23).


THE SECOND RECEIVING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT – Pentecost Sunday “Spirit-filled” Receiving (Power & Gifts)

After Jesus ascended to Heaven He was able to send the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, on the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41).  Because the disciples were already a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and born again on Resurrection Sunday (John 20:19-23), they were able to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5).  With the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are clothed in power (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:8).  The Holy Spirit is a gift who also comes bearing gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7-10) and fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).

There are 9 Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Faith, Healing, Miracles, Tongues, Prophecy, Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Interpretation of Tongues, and Discerning of Spirits.  The Holy Spirit will give any combination of these gifts custom fit for each person in accordance with God’s plan and purpose for our life.

There are 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.  Unlike the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are given out specifically to individuals, the fruits are all available and will manifest in our life as we walk out our faith and put our faith in action. The fruits are evidence to us and to other that we are the children of God (John 15:4-8,Matthew 12:33, Jeremiah 17:7-8, Matthew 7:17-20, 1 John 3:10).

There are also 5 Ministry Offices that the Holy Spirit will give to some to lead the church: Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Evangelist, Teacher (Ephesians 4:1-16)

In Luke 3:22 we read that when Jesus was baptized by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove. The 9 Gifts, 9 Fruits, and 5 Ministry Offices are perfectly displayed in the image of a dove.  God in all His creative-awesomeness will often use the natural to demonstrate the supernatural. God created a dove to have 9 main feathers on each wing (one for each gift and fruit) and 5 main tail feathers for the Ministry Office Gifts as a visual lesson and reminder for us.  What perfect precession between God’s Word and His creation.



TWO SEPARATE OCCASIONS – The disciples experienced the difference between being “Born Again” (Acts 1:8) and being “Baptized by the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:1-43) as two separate “receivings” of the Holy Spirit.

This is why in Acts 8:14-17, Peter and John went to the new believers in Samaria to ensure they also received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, because they knew personally the difference between the two receivings of the Holy Spirit. It is also why Paul, when he came upon the new believers in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-6), he asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit. The new believing Ephesian’s response was that they had not even heard there was a Holy Spirit.  The Samarian and Ephesian believers had received the water Baptism of repentance and at that point were born again, but they were not filled with the Holy Spirit.  They had the new wine skin, but not the new wine (Mark 2:21-22, Matthew 9:16-17, Luke 5:36-39).

In these instances we see that the new believers had already been baptized by water for the repentance of their sins, and on a separate occasion they receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands from a mature Spirit-filled believer (Acts 9:17, Acts 8:17, Acts 19:6, 2 Timothy 1:6, Acts 4:12). They received their “Water Baptism” first and their “Fire Baptism” second at a later date.

ALL AT ONCE – Unlike the disciples and the Christian Samarians and Ephesians, the 3000 Jews visiting Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-41) and the Gentiles in Cornelius’ house (Acts 10:44-48) who while listening to and believing in Peter’s witness of the Lord, they:

  • became Born Again and Spirit-filled all at once
  • experienced a Resurrection & Pentecost Sunday Receiving of the Holy Spirit all at once
  • received Authority and Power all at the same time
  • received their “Fire Baptism” first and their “Water Baptism” second (Acts 10:44-48).

Regardless of what order we are baptized in water or baptized in with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11) we need both (John 3:3-8).  And while it is important to be physically washed in the water of Baptism for the formal repentance of sins,  the water Jesus is speaking of in John 3:3-8 is the water of the washing of the Word – Jesus is telling us to be washed by the reading, believing and the practicing of his Word (Ephesians 5:26, John 13:6-9) – He will cleanse us (1 John 1:7).



As believers, we need both “receivings” of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said we must be born again (John 3:3-8) to enter the Kingdom of God. This Resurrection Sunday type receiving is absolutely necessary as it the marker of our salvation. The Pentecost Sunday receiving does not determine our salvation, but does dramatically change our lives here on earth, and our ability to effectively reach the nations with the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14, Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-17, Luke 24:47).

Before the disciples could become apostles they needed the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. They had the authority, but they did not yet have the power that brings boldness (Acts 2:1-41, Acts 4:31). Before they could go out into the nations to bring the good news (Mark 16:15-20, Romans 10:14-17), Jesus told the disciples to wait in the city for the gift of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5). Some new Christians upon first believing, receive both the born again seal of salvation of the Holy Spirit AND the gift of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit at the same time –  their conversion is dramatic and their life is changed in an instant.  But that is not the case for every believer.

For many others we gradually move into it, first receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and for various reasons, like the believers in Acts 19:1-6 and Acts 8:14-17, we don’t receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit at the same time. Some believers only ever receive the Resurrection Sunday covering of the Holy Spirit when they first believed, and experience the “Christian Life” like the disciples did in those 50 days between Resurrection Sunday and Pentecost Sunday. I will refer to those of us in this state/season without the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as the “50-day-Christians.”



The 50-day-Christians do what the disciples did – which is, we just keep doing what we already know how to do before we were a believer. For the disciples, it was fishing. They were not clothed yet with the power of the Holy Spirit to be effective, capable witnesses to the nations; they had salvation, they had capacity but were not yet activated and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Granted, the disciples were told to wait and had no option but to go back to fishing, but the image of the disciples going back to fishing should be a powerful reminder for us to not go back to our old life.

The direction by Jesus to “wait” is the same for us – we should not step out to minister until we know we are properly powered, covered and filled by the Holy Spirit. A new car is not going to go very far without any gas in the tank. Like the disciples before Pentecost Sunday, the 50-day-Christian goes back to life as usual. We may even step out to bring the gospel to the nations, but we are stepping out in our own power and strength, and not the Holy Spirit’s power. Without the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, believers can become disillusioned with Christianity and feel like something is missing – because something is missing: the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us.

It is during this season that the 50-day-Christian can be overtaken by worries (Matthew 13:22), fear (2 Timothy 1:7) and lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). We have hung a “GONE FISHING” sign on our front door and got lost in the business of the life we had before we came to Christ…we go back to doing what we did before, and our faith without actions becomes dead (James 2:17)

To definition of “Gone Fishing” on the The Wise Geek is:

“Gone fishing” is an English idiom that is used in reference to someone who is completely unaware of all that is going on in his or her immediate surroundings. The person described in this manner has checked out from reality and may be daydreaming or is just simply ignorant of the people and things in the vicinity. In other cases, the term can be used to describe someone who has taken an opportunity to get away from the rigors of daily life. This expression first found footing in America in the 20th century and is taken from the signs commonly placed on local store windows indicating that the shopkeepers weren’t around to do business.”

This quote is exactly what can be said of some of us Christians – we have check-out! We have repented, believed that Jesus is the Son of God, happily received the salvation that is promised and left it that that! We have hung a proverbial sign on our door and gone back to doing our business rather than the Lord’s business. We have “gone fishing” instead of becoming fishers of men. We go back to what we were doing before we were saved, rather than waiting to be clothed with power from on high to live the life we were destined to live; a life that is full to the brim with all the blessing, empowerment, favour, and joy that Jesus died to give back to us.

Sadly, many believers neither know about or ask for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11-12, Acts 1:4-8, Luke 24:49). In order to be an affective and mature believer we also need the power of the Holy Spirit through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as Jesus said it would be evident in the lives of genuine believers (Mark 16:14-18).



All we need to do is ask (Luke 11:13, Matthew 7:7-11) and not doubt (James 1:5-8) and God will give us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Everything we receive from God is received through faith: salvation, the Holy Spirit, wisdom. If we are hungry for more of God, why would He withhold from us what He has promised? That hunger will birth in us a desire to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord (Ephesians 5:10-12).  That hunger will bring us to a place of willing surrender (Romans 12:1-2). That hunger will induce us to repent and confess any lingering sins (1 John 1:9) that are entangling, ensnaring, tripping us up and holding us back (Hebrews 12:1-3) from running the race marked out for us. We are promised that when we hunger and thirst for His righteousness we will be filled (Matthew 5:6).

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