Posted by: Veroni Kruger | May 12, 2021

Did You Receive the Holy Spirit?

That was the question Paul asked the believers in Ephesus (Acts 19.2).  As we approach the day of the year when we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it is a question we should contemplate anew.

Most people associate receiving the Holy Spirit with the dramatic events that occurred on the Day of Pentecost.  However, according to the Biblical account, there was another event before that day when Jesus invited the apostles to receive the Holy Spirit.  John describes how that happened in John 20.19-22.

Jesus’ first appearance to the disciples after his crucifixion took place on the evening of the day He rose from the dead.  The disciples had lived with Jesus for three years in the period before He completed the work of salvation for humankind by his death and resurrection.  Now they were about to witness the appearance of the resurrected Jesus.  They had believed in Him before (not always, and not always with equal conviction).  Now they were about to be given the first opportunity to put their trust in Him in the manner that many people would do afterwards, that is, as their saviour.  They did not know it yet, but this would mark their transition from being mere followers of Jesus to being born again. This would transform them into children of God according to the New Covenant.

Before the death and resurrection of Jesus, regeneration was impossible. The death of Jesus was redemptive in that it satisfied the requirements for eradicating the condemnation of sin from people’s lives. The resurrection of Jesus was the means whereby the new life could be received. This new life is what enables us to be born again. The disciples were the first to experience this, and that is why their experience on this night of wonders is typical of all who come to believe in Jesus.

After the usual Hebrew greeting (“Shalom!”, or “Peace be unto you!”) the Lord proves to them that it is really Him, by showing his wounds.  

The disciples recognise Jesus, and this leads to the second pronouncement of peace.  Two things are important here.

The recognition of Jesus by the disciples constituted their acceptance that He was, indeed, the One whom they knew, who had died and risen again. This is what every would-be believer is confronted with.  Who is Jesus?  This is the crucial question in the Christian faith and therefore also the crucial question that every person must answer.  The disciples’ reaction of being “overjoyed” indicates their acceptance of Him as the Christ.

The immediate effect of their acceptance of Him is the peace that Jesus gives. The second pronouncement of peace cannot be taken to be a repetition of the usual Hebrew greeting.  Rather, it is the first time that the peace of God which is the result of being reconciled with God through Jesus Christ, was given and received. All believers through the ages still experience that.

The pronouncement of peace is followed by a commission (“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you”). After this, Jesus breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

This was the first occurrence of the Holy Spirit being given to believers. Before, He had come upon persons when they needed some special anointing with power for a specific task. That was the only manner in which He could operate in the Old Covenant. Now, with the disciples having been born again, it was possible for the first time for the Holy Spirit not only to empower people but to become an indwelling presence in their being.  

Some have said that this pronouncement of Jesus was merely prophetic and that it pointed to the event that would take place on the Day of Pentecost. There is, however, no linguistic evidence for such an interpretation. Nor is there any need to interpret the event as anything but a simple speech act on the part of Jesus. In saying it, He did it! In that moment, the disciples received the Holy Spirit.

It was the fulfilment of the prophecies regarding the change in the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  From coming upon people periodically, He was now going to live in them.  Ezekiel 36.27 states it as a promise:  “I will put my Spirit in you.”  This is the privilege of everyone who comes to faith in Jesus Christ, and is born again.  So characteristic is it, that Paul later states the converse:  “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8.9).

This does not detract in any way from the event on the Day of Pentecost.

The question “Did you receive the Holy Spirit?” is answered by the answer to another question:  “Have you accepted the Lord Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?”  If the answer is “Yes”, you may rejoice in the truth that God now lives in you by his Spirit.

Happy preparation for Pentecost!      


Responses

  1. […] Did You Receive the Holy Spirit? […]

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  2. Thanks, Friend. You have the ability to teach so well!

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Alexander F. Venter

Live a life of love just as Jesus loved us...

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