Do We Receive the Holy Spirit When We Are Saved?

I was taught that I received the Holy Spirit when I was saved.


Do you teach something different?


The first thing we must consider is – what does the Bible say? Sometimes it will be necessary for what we have been ‘taught’ to be overridden by what scripture says. Frankly, many things we have been taught must be ‘untaught’ because it simply is not true. Many teach that as soon as we accept Jesus Christ into our lives we receive the Holy Spirit. This quote was from the "Statement of Faith" from the web site of First Baptist Church of Atlanta – which is led by the popular Charles Stanley: “Simultaneously with salvation, the Holy Spirit imparts new life, baptizes the believer into the body of Christ (His church), permanently indwells the believer, and securely seals the believer unto the day of redemption”. It’s quite clear in this statement that believers, upon receiving salvation (i.e. accepting Jesus as personal savior), we then (simultaneously) receive the Holy Spirit and He permanently stays with the believer and thusly the believer is eternally ‘sealed’. This is not truth! This is a deception! (see FAQ Why is the "Once Saved Always Saved" doctrine wrong?).


Now let’s examine what the Bible says about this subject. First we will look at what it means to be "sealed" (see FAQ How can you believe that Salvation can be lost when God says that we are sealed with His Spirit?). We see this in Ephesians 1:13-14: "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise’, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."


In the context of chapter 1 of Ephesians we are told about being chosen before the foundation of the world and predestinated into an adoption Ephesians 1:4-5. Now verses 13 and 14 tell us that we are sealed with the holy Spirit of promise who is the "earnest" of our inheritance (which is really the promise). Another word for "earnest" is "down payment".


What is a down payment? “a part of the full price paid at the time of purchase or delivery with the balance to be paid later; broadly : the first step in a process”.


In a large transaction like when we buy a car or a house, we put up a down payment. This is a way that we show forth a commitment in good faith which indicates that we are serious about fulfilling the terms of the contract of purchase. We don’t actually "own" the car or house until the terms of the payment are fulfilled, usually after a number of years. During that time, situations and conditions can occur which can cause us to have to break the contract and the car or house is lost. As with the transaction of a person’s salvation, this seal or a stamp of the Holy Spirit is the promise or down payment for commitment to and for us, but can actually be removed if we do not fulfill the terms or conditions put upon us by the payer.


Let’s look at a few cases in the book of Acts that should absolutely demolish any doubts that anyone should have as to whether we always and automatically receive the Holy Spirit when we are "saved".


“But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 8:12-17)


It’s obvious here that Philip preached Jesus Christ to both men and women and they were baptized, but yet Peter and John were sent to pray for them so that they would receive the Holy Ghost “For as yet he (the Holy Spirit) was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”…it doesn’t get any plainer that that!


“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” (Acts 19:1-6)


Again, this time Paul comes upon some disciples and flat out asks them if they’ve been baptized with the Holy Ghost. They’re response was that they hadn’t even heard of the Holy Ghost! They had been only baptized (brought to repentance) by John in the authority of Jesus Christ. Paul then prayed for them and the Holy Ghost came upon them. Clearly, the Holy Ghost is not always immediately received by believers. We are admonished to continually ask, continually seek and continually knock so that we will ultimately receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit.


The Holy Spirit is NOT an option in our salvation walk. He is an absolute necessity. Do not be deceived into believing that you have received Him if you have not!


“Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”

1st Corinthians 12:3


Back to Frequently Asked Questions