Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, traveled through the upper lands of Asia Minor and came to Ephesus, where he found many disciples who had recently come to believe in the Lord Jesus. To them, he addressed the important question: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Astonishingly, they gave him the answer: “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” But they considered it to be self-evident to immediately claim this precious offer that Paul showed them for themselves. And when Paul laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them. What a wonderful reception of the Holy Spirit without much awareness or even much knowledge about it!
Today, we live in a time when the gospel is not scarce but is preached everywhere, and, therefore, also the word of receiving or being baptized with the Holy Spirit. Thousands of copies of books and tracts have been written and circulated by men of God. Nevertheless, only relatively few have actually received the Holy Spirit.
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” This is still an important question for you, dear soul, who have been a follower of Jesus for many years. There is nothing more important in our time than that every single child of God is assured of having received the Holy Spirit. Do you have the Holy Spirit, given to us by God and whom the world cannot receive? (John 14:17)
Receiving the Holy Spirit does not depend on our great knowledge nor on our great faith, rather only on our obedience and willing surrender to God.
Let us study the disciples at Ephesus. They did not know that there was a Holy Spirit, and yet they received Him, as did the gathering there in the upper room in Jerusalem. They also did not know as much about the Holy Spirit as we know today. But one thing they knew: that the Lord had told them to stay in Jerusalem until they had received the power from above. And when they obediently, and with prayer and supplication, awaited the day, not just some of them, but all of them, were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Is it really necessary for us to receive the Holy Spirit? Paul certainly saw the absolute need to receive the Holy Spirit, and therefore his important question to the Ephesians: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
The Lord Jesus said, “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) Brothers and sisters, it cannot start burning in our hearts until we have the Holy Spirit. The fire of the Holy Spirit will banish all languor and half-heartedness and fill us with courage and zeal for the cause of God, so that He can build His work through us and add souls to His Church as once in Jerusalem. If we possess the Holy Spirit, we will be better able to overcome all difficulties and move from victory to victory. And the gifts of the Spirit will then be found among us.
In Jesus’ farewell speech (John 14), we see that the Lord had promised His disciples a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who would abide with them forever. In the same chapter, we also find the functions of this promised Comforter and what He should accomplish.
He Will Teach You
Who among us does not need the instruction of the Holy Spirit? In all areas and for every task, but especially in the work of the Lord, it is so necessary. Be it pastors or helpers, all need the Holy Spirit. Therefore, you Sunday School teacher, the question also applies to you: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit?”
He Will Remind You
Oh, how important is this reminder – to pray, to testify, to read the Word of God! The Holy Spirit will remind us of everything the Lord has told us. Therefore, “did you receive the Holy Spirit?”
He Will Guide You
John 16:13 – Who among us does not need the guidance of the Holy Spirit, be it in the proclamation of God’s Word, in reading the Word of God, in every little job in the church, or in our everyday lives at home and at work? Therefore, “did you receive the Holy Spirit?”
He Will Be Your Power
Acts 1:8 – We need penetrating power that not only reaches the ears but the depths of the heart, a power that softens stony hearts. Observe the apostle Peter at Pentecost! He was filled with power from on high so that when he preached, the great multitude asked, “What shall we do?” Therefore, “did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”