How do you know when you have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit?

Asked by Rena

How do you know when you have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit?


The Bible gives us some indications by which we can be assured that we have the Holy Spirit.

The most important one is that we understand the message of the cross, that is, what God has done in Christ for us, and when we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour; in other words, when we repent and believe in the gospel of Christ (1 Cor 12:3; Gal 3:2). This message is foolishness to the ears of the world, but we accept it as trustworthy and see it as the godly wisdom (1 Cor 1-2). The Holy Spirit is the one, whom those who believe in Christ receive (John 7:39; Acts 2:38).

Receiving the Spirit is not something that we experience once we believe in Christ, as if the two were separate, because that would be to undermine the significance of Christ, and to separate the Spirit from Christ. The Bible clearly teaches that the Spirit will bring glory to Christ, not to himself. The Spirit will not speak on his own, but only speak what he hears from Christ. (John 15:26; 16:14-15). The Bible also teaches that Christ and the Spirit are inseparable, although they are distinct (e.g. John 6:63).

Everything else basically flows from this repentance and trust in the gospel.

For example, another crucial indication is that we are not controlled by our sinful nature, we are not hostile to God, rather we submit to him and want to do his will, despite our continuous failure to do so, and hence our continuous need to repent of our sins (Rom 8:6-9). We do this not in order to receive or to keep the Holy Spirit, as if he is an impersonal substance that can leak. This would be to turn the gospel upside down, and to make God’s favour for us dependent upon our good works. Rather, we do this because we have the Holy Spirit, that is, because we repent and trust in the message of the cross. And because we have the assurance of God’s favour, that is, the assurance of God’s love for us in Christ through the Holy Spirit that God has given us (Rom 5:5).

The same principle must apply to other areas of Christian life. Therefore, for example, the gifts of the Holy Spirit (e.g. 1 Cor 12) must not be seen as a condition for assurance that we have the Holy Spirit. To do so would be to undermine the significance of Christ for receiving the Holy Spirit. Even when those gifts of the Spirit are not evident, e.g. at the cross of Christ, God is present and is at work, as long as Christ is glorified and we repent and trust in him.

 

Answers are kindly provided by our friends at Christianity.net.au

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