I was reading Acts 19 yesterday, and in verses 1-7, Paul found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Their answer was no.
It seems these days that the common understanding of the Holy Spirit is that all believers have him. If you are a Christian, you’ve received him. But here in Acts, we’ve got who the author says are disciples, and Paul even clarifies that further. His understanding is that they believe, as it shows in his question to them.
I have heard some say that there’s a difference between having the Holy Spirit, and being filled with the Spirit. The day of Pentecost, and other occasions in Acts use the language of being “filled” with the Holy Spirit, and that is a unique experience which differs from believers having the Spirit. But in Paul’s question to the disciples, he asked if they have “received” the Holy Spirit.
So I have two major questions with this:
- Do all believers really have the Holy Spirit these days like the general understanding seems to be?
- How can we be confident that we do have the Holy Spirit? The disciples Paul asked seemed pretty confident in answering “no”. In fact, they said they hadn’t even heard if there was a Holy Spirit.
Our understanding of the Spirit is interesting. I have been questioning it more lately. One thing of interest is in the gifts of the Spirit. Things like hospitality, serving, etc. To a believer who likes to serve, it seems so obvious that they have received that ability as a spiritual gift. But, there are plenty of people in the world who are not believers that are very good at (and enjoy) many of those same “gifts”.
Besides the pentecostal churches, the behaviors of the Holy Spirit seem different, or..non-evident? To be honest, it is serving as an increaser of doubt for me lately. What I’m seeing as I read through Acts is nothing that I’ve ever experienced before. Why is that? As a believer, why would God not want to allow me to experience something supernatural by the Holy Spirit to help me believe?
What is your understanding of believers having the Holy Spirit? Why does the work of the Holy Spirit today seem so non-existent? And if you are one of those people who is going to tell me that in other countries across the world, that he is more evident, then help me understand why the Holy Spirit is not more evident in America.