“Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” is not a suggestion to believers in Christ for the deepening of their spiritual lives, nor is it an optional extra. “Receive the Holy Spirit” is God’s command to sinful men and women to lay THE ONLY FOUNDATION at the beginning of their Christian lives! The gift of the Holy Spirit is not an extra experience beyond what is necessary for every Christian. Nor is it an experience received only by a select few after years of godly living to make them “super-Christians.” It is one of the three normal steps through the door to a full salvation.
Some churches have over-emphasized receiving the Holy Spirit as a second work of God’s grace after receiving Jesus Christ as personal Savior. But many of us do not hear about receiving the Holy Spirit until years after our conversion to Christ. (I heard nothing at all about this experience until nearly five years after I had become a Christian). To repair the damage, we often have to re-read the New Testament. A second work of grace – yes. But never let us lose sight of the fact that in the New Testament, the three steps of THE ONLY FOUNDATION are intended for the beginning of the Christian life.
For example, the Christians at Samaria (Acts chapter 8) had a deficient initial experience. Their foundation was not complete. But the situation was remedied when they received the Holy Spirit as Peter and John laid hands upon them. The tragedy is the exceptional situation at Samaria has become the common one today. The Bible foundation is, “Repent,” “Be baptized,” “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
ALL BELIEVERS HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT
Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is a separate step in THE ONLY FOUNDATION, distinct from receiving Christ as Savior. All believers do not enjoy the fullness of the Holy Spirit. However, all who have repented of their sins, accepted Jesus as Savior, and been born anew, do have a measure of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit convicts of sin (John 16:8). After repentance, the Holy Spirit performs that miracle of all miracles: the new birth, without which no man shall see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3). And the Bible says in Romans 8:9, “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.” All who have received Christ as their Savior have experienced the first step in THE ONLY FOUNDATION. This is when the Holy Spirit caused them to be born anew and they are indwelt by the Spirit. The Bible says they are “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). As the Christian grows, obeying the Spirit, and yielding to Him, more of his life will be indwelt by the Spirit. But the indwelling of the Holy Spirit must not be confused with the infilling of the Spirit – that outpouring of the Holy Spirit that God gives for victorious, holy living, and powerful witnessing.
“GIFT,” “BAPTISM,” OR “FULLNESS”?
What are we to make of such terms as “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” “baptism with the Holy Spirit,” or “full ness of the Holy Spirit” used to describe the point at which we receive the Holy Spirit’s power into our lives after we have been born anew? I trust that mere points of terminology will not be allowed to obscure the blessings of the Spirit-filled life God wants each one of us to enjoy. It is not correct terms we need; rather to build our lives on THE ONLY FOUNDATION!