Christians believe and worship a Triune God (i.e., the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) who shares equal divine attributes. The moment we pray to God and accept Jesus Christ into our hearts is, therefore, the moment we receive the Holy Spirit.
Just as it is necessary to know who a person is before we can sincerely welcome him, we need to know who the Holy Spirit is before we can wholeheartedly receive and trust Him.
The Identity of the Holy Spirit
Jesus Christ referred to the Holy Spirit as the Helper (a.k.a. Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Counselor), “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).
One way the Holy Spirit ministers to believers is by providing help in prayer:
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).
Note that John and Paul use masculine pronouns for the Holy Spirit, contrary to the normal Greek word pneuma (i.e., spirit), which is neutral.
The Holy Spirit of God is a person — not an impersonal force or influence — as much as God the Father and the Son are persons, possessing intellect, emotions, and will.
The Ministry of the Holy Spirit and Its Blessings
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, who indwells, guides, teaches, empowers born-again believers to accomplish God’s purposes in their lives, and to convict the world of its sin (of rejecting Jesus Christ as personal Savior and of God’s righteousness and judgment, John 16:8-11).
In Christian living, the Holy Spirit is God’s agent for the work of regeneration (new, spiritual birth) and the work of sanctification (life transformation into Christlikeness). The Holy Spirit is still at work today, manifesting the power of God in the life of every Christian.
Ultimately, the Holy Spirit has a distinct, essential role in the salvation of every believer. Just as God the Father plans the work of salvation, God the Son executes the Father’s plan of salvation through the work of redemption, God the Spirit secures the gift of salvation through the indwelling, sealing, and sanctifying works in the life of every Christ believer (John 14:16).
What a great, supernatural blessing we have in the Holy Spirit!
The Reception of the Holy Spirit and Its Impact
Christ believers are to be baptized, not only with water (which symbolizes repentance, Acts 2:38), but also with the Holy Spirit (i.e., God’s control and empowerment for holy living, manifesting the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23).
So, how do we receive the Holy Spirit? The answer is “Ask.”
Every believer receives the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation.
Jesus makes it very clear: “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!” (Luke 11:13).
We can be sure that asking God the Father to give us His Spirit is a request that brings pleasure to Him. It is the heavenly Father’s desire to give good gifts to His children — the Holy Spirit is the most wonderful gift from God the Father to us who believe in God the Son, Jesus Christ.
By asking Him, we are confessing our need for Him — and we can ask only if we first believe in our hearts.
In fact, Scripture says that no one can acknowledge that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3).
In other words, we know that the Holy Spirit is in us if we believe in Jesus Christ, that is by confessing (i.e., openly declaring) with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead (Romans 8:9-10). [This is the answer to the question of “How do we know that we have received the Holy Spirit?”]
Moreover, by the Holy Spirit, we can have a loving relationship with God the Father — we are spiritually adopted as the children of God that we can call Him, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6).
Receiving the Holy Spirit means allowing the Spirit of God to take control of our lives. It is only by the Spirit we can truly live, by putting to death the sinful desires of the flesh (Romans 8:13).
Receiving the Holy Spirit means living by faith in the Son of God who lives in us (Galatians 2:20).
Receiving the Holy Spirit also means experiencing the power of God for the Great Commission, (i.e., to proclaim the gospel to the world and make disciples of all the nations, Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19-20).
Conclusions and Applications
We receive the Holy Spirit by putting our faith in Jesus Christ, which is done by publicly declaring His deity and believing in our hearts that He has risen from the dead.
As we trust in Christ, we repent from our sin and no longer live under condemnation (Romans 8:1). Therefore, we have confidence to ask our heavenly Father to give us His Spirit.
If you are not sure that you have received the Holy Spirit, you can pray such a prayer in your heart right now:
Dear God, I confess that I am a sinner. I need You and I believe that Jesus Christ died for me on the cross to save me and has risen from the dead to give me a new life.
I surrender my life to You, my Lord and my Savior. Please come into my life and fill me with the Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
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Philip Wijaya, Ph.D. currently lives in Vancouver, Canada with his wife, Sandra, and their daughter, Shalom. His interest in science and faith in God has motivated him to actively write in his personal blog (philipwijaya.com), in addition to his professional research work in the area of clean energy and chemical engineering. In his leisure time, he enjoys sports, football games, music, and traveling with family.