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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?

How to Receive God's Holy SpiritThe 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?

Acts 8:15-17
...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.

Acts 19:5-6
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 Christianity?

Hebrews 6:1-2
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.

Zechariah 4:6
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."

Micah 3:8
"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 his sin."

Luke 4:14
Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.

Acts 1:8
"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 God.

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?

Galatians 5:22-23
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?

John 14:16-17
"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 17:17).

Does the gift of the Holy Spirit make us children of God?

Romans 8:14-17
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.


Apply Now

The wonderful passage in Galatians 5:22-23 deserves much study. An entire series of articles about the "Fruit of the Spirit" was printed in The Good News magazine, and you can access all of them through the link. Please pick at least one of the articles and study that fruit in depth. Make notes of specific things you can do to apply that fruit in your life.

Next Lesson: Growing in God's Grace and Knowledge

Questions about this lesson? Feedback about this lesson?

Related Resources:

Water Baptism and Laying on of Hands from the booklet The Road to Eternal Life

The Holy Spirit: God's Transforming Power from the booklet Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion

Is the Holy Spirit a Person? from the booklet Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion

Water Baptism and the Laying on of Hands from the booklet Fundamental Beliefs of the United Church of God

Is the laying on of hands necessary to receive the Holy Spirit?

Fruit of the Spirit

How Can You Receive the Transforming Power of God's Spirit?

The Role of the Holy Spirit

Stir Up the Spirit