Kingdom.11 Receiving the Holy Spirit.

April 24, 2008 at 4:23 pm 6 comments

Nothing has messed with the heads of Christians any more than the subject of when and how do we receive the Holy Spirit? As I said in an earlier Kingdom post, the advancement of the Kingdom requires supernatural Holy Spirit power and some of the last words of our King, prior to His lift off to return to the Father were these; You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit comes on you… (Acts 1:8) The ones who first heard these words of Jesus were believers, in every sense of the Word but had not yet received the Holy Spirit, so these verses raise the question: “When do we get the power?” 

A number of years ago, in my “institutional” days, I was preaching through Acts when I came upon these verses from chapter 8: Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 

As I read these words I had one of those, “wait a minute here” moments where my training and experience were called into question.  I went to the leadership of the church I was pastoring, and asked for their help in how to proceed, since our church and “denomination” did not believe in a second experience with the Holy Spirit, that seemed obvious to me, in this story. 

To make a very long story short, they were little or no help.  All they knew to do was to ask me to not proceed in my teaching from Acts until we understood better what was happening. Over the next few months we wrote papers on the subject, including one where I made the case that will be presented here, discussed it long into the night, until it became obvious we were not going to find agreement that I should proceed with my teaching from the Book of Acts (I never taught from it again in that church). 

While their refusal to give me freedom to teach what I believed was the truth of Scripture was not what eventually led to my resignation, I look back to that time as the place where I began to loose my heart and ultimately, my way. So what I share with you here is extremely important to me and I believe to the forward movement of the Kingdom.

This section of Acts (8:14-17) raises the question as to whether the historic Pentecostal view is correct, that there is a second experience of the Holy Spirit to be sought and enjoyed after conversion, different from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which starts when we first believe (first experience).  This section of Scripture further asks the question “is this second experience followed by speaking in tongues”? (which I will deal with later)

If you read this text it is clear that the Samaritans are already born again prior to Peter and John’s visit. This conversion is the first experience of faith.  But what you notice as you read this story is that there is a second experience of the Holy Spirit that they don’t have. v.15 says: Peter and John came down from Jerusalem and “prayed for [the Samaritans] that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” They are obviously missing something. The Spirit has not “fallen on them.” They have not “received” him. But in spite of not having the Holy Spirit as yet, they seem to be genuine believers.

There is no way I can cover this whole subject in one post, so in this posting I will simply give you the reasons why I think these Samaritans were truly born again, and then, in another post, give you the reasons why I am convinced that in fact, there is a second experience with the Holy Spirit that is normative for the follower of King Jesus.

  • v.8 describes them as having great joy, an experience that often follows conversion. (see v.39)
  • v.12a says they “believed Philip as he preached the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.  In Acts, belief and conversion are generally synonymous.
  • v.16 says that they were baptized in the name of Jesus. And when the apostles came down to lay hands on them, there is no mention that they baptized them again, even though Paul re-baptized the disciples who only knew the baptism of John in Acts 19:5.

All this suggests that the Samaritans were true believers prior to John and Peter laying hands on them, which led to their receiving the Holy Spirit.

This event in Acts 8 is an illustration, just like Pentecost, that there is a definite receiving of the Holy Spirit to be experienced after conversion. There are obvious connections between this story in Acts 8 and what we read about the baptism in the Holy Spirit in 1:5 and 11:16.

What I am saying here is that both the first experience of sealing by the Holy Spirit and the second experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit are normative experiences for the follower of Jesus.

Why does this matter?  I have been saying for some time that institutional churches, like the one I led for many years, have an obvious lack of power.  Mark 16 says “signs and wonders will follow believers…” Acts tells us up front (1:8), and then with illustration after illustration, that we will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes on us… and yet I never saw in the churches I was affiliated with, for my entire life, anything that remotely looked like a wonder or a sign, much less power!  The only conclusion I can come to, is that much of the church has settled for the sealing of the Holy Spirit, which is essential and imperative, but have not moved on into an encounter with the Holy Spirit that brings  obvious, demonstrative, and authentic Holy Spirit power.

More on this subject another time, including an attempt to answer the question “is tongues the evidence of this second experience with the Holy Spirit”?



Entry filed under: Authority, Belief, Charismatic, Christianity, Church, Faith, Holy Spirit, Institutional church, Jesus, King Jesus, Kingdom, Kingdom Gospel, Kingdom Life, Miracles, Revelation, Supernatural, The Father, Theology, Thoughts.

Kingdom.10 “Gifts of healings”. Monday morning meanderings. Vol.42

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anthony  |  October 1, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    This is a great post, I have been studying this particular study myself for a while. I have come to the conclusion that there is a second recieving of the Holy Spirit. The funny thing is that we I study how to recieve the spirit, the only way it was done was by the hands of the apostles. Annais prayed told paul that he came to pray that he would recieve sight and the Holy spirit. Its funny that it only indicates that he recieved his sight back, but never stated he recieved the Holy Spirit. Why is this important, because in every other instance that someone prayed for believers to recieve the Holy Spirit, the bible clearly stated they recieved him. Every time there was the recieving of the Holy spirit a Apostle was present. God has an establish order, and God doesn’t break is order. I look forward to your reply.

  • 2. John Willis  |  April 29, 2008 at 6:49 am

    Looking forward to hearing more. I understand about our churches for the most part lacking in power because they do not connect. Never experienced “tongues” but have experienced healing (miracle).

  • 3. thedailylily  |  April 26, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    You are in good company on your power perspective. Paul wrote in I Cor 4:19-20: …”and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.”
    Thanks for the insightful blog.

  • 4. amanda  |  April 25, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    well put, i thirst for more.

  • 5. sumijoti  |  April 24, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    This is a great post for me to bookmark and to point others to. It is nice to see this second experience explained simply and eloquently.

    Thanks for keeping my family and I in your prayers and for pointing a few extra prayers our way! I really appreciate your kind comments on my blog.

  • 6. Jenn  |  April 24, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Keep it coming!!!!

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