Series 5 - What God Wants for You
Hi, friends! So far in this series on "What God Wants for You" we have
studied God's invitation to have a relationship with Him and elements
of our response—faith, repentance and baptism. Intimately associated with
water baptism is the giving of the Holy Spirit when God's minister lays
his hands on the newly baptized Christian. In this lesson we will explore
the scriptures about this laying on of hands and the wonderful gift of
the Holy Spirit that God wants to give you.
We hope this lesson will be inspiring and motivational for you in deepening
your relationship with our great God and Savior.
Please let us know if we can serve you in any way.
Lesson 5: How to Receive God's Holy Spirit
After baptism in water, the Bible shows that God's ministers put their hands on the new convert and prayed for the person to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. What is the Holy Spirit and how can we use this gift to transform our lives?
The story of the new Christians baptized by Philip in Samaria illustrates
the importance of the ceremony of laying on of hands in the giving of
the Holy Spirit.
After the martyrdom of Stephen, most of the Christians in Jerusalem
fled the city in fear of Saul (who later became the apostle Paul).
"But the believers who had fled Jerusalem went everywhere preaching
the Good News about Jesus. Philip, for example, went to the city of
Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. Crowds listened
intently to what he had to say because of the miracles he did. Many
evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims.
And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was
great joy in that city...
"But now the people believed Philip's message of Good News concerning
the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. As a result, many
men and women were baptized...
"When the apostles back in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria
had accepted God's message, they sent Peter and John there. As soon
as they arrived, they prayed for these new Christians to receive the
Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for
they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter
and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the
Holy Spirit" (Acts 8:4-8, 12, 14-17, New Living Translation).
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What Does the Bible Say About How God Gives the Holy Spirit?
At what point does the Bible show the Holy Spirit being given
to new Christians?
...who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive
the Holy Spirit.
For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized
in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them,
and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
Peter had preached that those who were baptized would receive the Holy
Spirit (Acts 2:38). But from these examples, we see that the Holy Spirit
didn't come immediately when a person was immersed in water, but came
after God's minister put his hands on the person and prayed for the Holy
Spirit to be given to him or her.
Is the laying on of hands one of the elementary principles of
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ,
let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance
from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms,
of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
As we have seen in this series of lessons, repentance, faith and baptism
are foundational steps in building a relationship with God, and the laying
on of hands after baptism is another vital step in the process of conversion.
God gives His Holy Spirit to those who submit to this wonderful ceremony.
This elementary principle may also include the other types of laying
on of hands described in the Bible. These include ordination of deacons
and elders, anointing of sick people and blessing of little children (Acts
6:1-6; 13:2-3; Mark 16:18; Matthew 19:13-15).
What Is the Holy Spirit?
How is the Holy Spirit described in Scripture?
2 Timothy 1:7
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of
a sound mind.
So he answered and said to me: "This is the word of the Lord to
Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the
Lord of hosts."
"But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of
justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel
Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of
Him went out through all the surrounding region.
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon
you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea
and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
The Holy Spirit is often described as the power of God. As our Fundamental
Beliefs booklet explains, "The Holy Spirit of God is not
identified as a third person in a trinity but is presented in Scripture
as the power of God, the mind of God and the very essence and life
force of God through which the Father begets human beings as His spiritual
children." There is much more to this subject, so in addition to the
link above, please also see "Is
the Holy Spirit a Person?" and "Why
Can't Theologians Explain the Trinity Doctrine?"
Receiving the Holy Spirit gives the Christian the spiritual power needed
to live a Christian life. It helps provide the motivation and strength
that make it possible for us to be able to obey God's commandments, make
right choices, overcome and persevere (Romans 8:26; 12:2; Philippians
2:5; 2 Peter 1:3-4).
How Does the Holy Spirit Help Us?
What does the Holy Spirit help us to understand?
1 Corinthians 2:9-11
But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have
entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for
those who love Him."
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches
all things, yes, the deep things of God.
For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which
is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of
The Holy Spirit opens our understanding to spiritual truths that seem
foolishness to those who don't have God's Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14).
It opens a window into the mind of God and helps us to learn to think
as God thinks.
What fruit can the Holy Spirit help us grow in our lives?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there
is no law.
These are all characteristics of God, and He gives us help to develop
them through His Spirit. They are in vivid contrast to the works of the
flesh that come naturally to human beings (Galatians 5:19-21). Without
God's help, we cannot overcome all of these negative pulls and influences.
What else did Jesus Christ call the Holy Spirit?
"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper,
that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth..."
In the King James Version, "Helper" is translated as "Comforter." The
Holy Spirit comforts, encourages and helps us in many ways, if we stay
close to God and stir up the Spirit (2 Timothy 1:6). It is also the Spirit
of truth and helps us remember and focus on the truth of God's Word (John
Does the gift of the Holy Spirit make us children of God?
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you
received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children
of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with
Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
1 John 3:1-2
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should
be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because
it did not know Him.
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed
what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like
Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
As we have been seeing in this series, God wants to have a relationship
with you. But not just any relationship. He wants to have the closest
of relationships, the family relationship of Father and child. This awesome
plan and purpose is beyond our comprehension—that the Creator God of the
vast universe wants you to be His child! Keep this thought in mind, and
we will come back to it in a future lesson.