THE COMING OF THE SPIRIT
Receiving the Spirit
On the part of those who believe in Jesus, they would receive the Holy Spirit (Jn.7:39a) when the Spirit was given. In another account, Jesus talks about the coming of the Promised Holy Spirit to the disciples. It states that the Father will give them another Helper, who will be in them (Jn. 14:16-17, 20). The Spirit is in them precisely because they have received the Spirit. This happened when God gave them the Spirit. Undoubtedly, there is no distinction between “they have received the Spirit” and “the Spirit is in them”.
In the Book of Acts, the word “receive” is much more widely used. Since the Spirit is to be received, surely the receivers are well aware of His coming and indwelling. Otherwise, receiving would remain a conceptual idea without any experiential proof. God, being all-knowing, has written a complete and “fool-proof” Scripture. Simply put, if one claims that one “has the Spirit in him” without experiential confirmation, then this claim would be false and untrue. The security of the Scriptures’ message exposes falsehoods, including the idea that the Spirit is in a person when he is baptised without speaking in tongues.
The practice of the apostles is that receiving the Spirit had evidential value. When Philip went to Samaria to preach, all the people in the city believed in his word and were baptised (Acts 8:12). However, it is unambiguously stated that the Spirit had not yet fallen upon any of them (Acts 8:16). This expression is clear. It paints a vivid picture of the Spirit not being in them, even though they had been baptised. This shows no doubt of the fact they only received the Spirit when they were given the Spirit; even Simon the sorcerer could see this (Acts 8:17-18).
Immediately before His ascension, Christ reassured His disciples that they would be baptised with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). In Jerusalem, when Peter defended his preaching to the Gentiles in the presence of the Jews, he recalled this reassurance of Christ (Acts 11:16) to explain that his acceptance of the Gentiles was on account of them having been given the Spirit (Acts 11:17). This means the Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit, just as the apostles had (Acts 10:47).
Peter, likewise, used the same encounter to settle the heated debate in Jerusalem over the issue of circumcising Gentile believers “by giving them the Spirit just as He did to us” (Acts 15:8). Quite evidently, the experience they had in being filled by the Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2:4) was exactly the same as the Gentile converts receiving the Spirit in the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:47).
[To be continued...]