Do We Really Have The Holy Spirit?

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:

  1. Do all believers really have the Holy Spirit these days like the general understanding seems to be?
  2. 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.


3 thoughts on “Do We Really Have The Holy Spirit?

  1. Paul says this,” But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

    These are not so much gifts, but attitudes of the heart. A disposition. All of these point us somewhere other than ourselves. This can lead us to using our gifts in a way that honors God rather than ourselves.

    Paul does not say the fruit of the spirit is miracles, signs and wonders although these things can/are definitely a work of the Spirit. The Spirit is given to us to point us to Jesus and to lead us to walk as Jesus walked therefore pointing us/others to the Father.

    Ephesians says,” And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory..”

    The only thing that makes a Christian unique is having the Holy Spirit.

    This may not answer your question but I would try to read Acts in light of the big picture. God is doing some pretty incredible/unexplainable things in the book of Acts as a part of his redemptive plan/expansion of the church through the Spirit. So the question I would have is,” What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the Biblical Narrative” instead of just the book of Acts. Jesus tells us some things about the Holy Spirit in John 14,15 & 16…Paul writes about the Holy Spirit. The OT shows the Spirit of God at work in special ways.

    I am certainly also troubled by the same questions you are asking as well. We seem to not experience some of the supernatural things that the book of Acts speaks of. I would love to chat in person soon and talk through some of these things. Good questions Josh!

    • Thank you for sharing. It is an interesting list, especially throwing one in at the end with no Biblical reference. In reference to my post, this still begs the question of who has the Holy Spirit, and who does not, and how can you be sure? It is not difficult to argue that there are people who are in all sorts of other religions or atheists who understand, who give good counsel, who have moral strength, who have knowledge, and so on.

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