Some have proposed that the reception of the Holy Ghost occurs automatically without any manifestation of the supernatural when a person simply "accepts Jesus into their hearts by faith." Others believe this occurs automatically when one is baptized in water. They propose that the "baptism of the Holy Ghost" noted in Acts 2:4 is a "second experience" that may or may not necessarily occur after one simply receives the Spirit of God within one's life. In this study, I will call their belief the "two experiences" belief.
A verse used by some to promote this idea i the following:
John 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:Since this occurred well before the Day of Pentecost, when the 120 spoke in tongues having been filled with the Holy Ghost, some presume that this proves the disciples had the Holy GHost before they were baptized with it, making the receival and the baptism to be two different experiences.
Let us examine whether or not one can "receive the Holy Ghost" before one is "baptized with the Holy Ghost", for the experience in John 20:22 was explicitly stated by Jesus to be "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." The experience of Acts 2:4 was called the "baptism of the Holy GHost.
Acts 1:4-5 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.The promise of the Father was spoken earlier by Jesus as follows:
Luke 24:47-49 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.This occurred as follows:
Acts 2:1-4 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.According to Jesus words in Acts 1 and Acts 2, the experience of Acts 2:4 was receiving the promise, being baptized with the Holy Ghost and being filled with the Holy Ghost. All these three descriptions describe the experience of Acts 2:4. Those who believe Jesus gave the Holy Ghost to the disciples in John 20:22 believe this account in Acts 2:4 is a different experience than "receiving the Holy Ghost." In other words, the disciples already had received the Holy Ghost before they were baptized with the Holy Ghost, received the promise, and filled with the Holy Ghost.
So we see it is called
Jesus also said these words:
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:So we can add this title to the list as well.
Acts 8:12 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.According to the proponents of the "two experiences," these people "received the Holy Ghost" at this point, since they believed and were baptized. They required no supernatural manifestation such as tongues, etc. They supposedly already "received" the Holy Ghost.
Upon hearing the news in Jerusalem, the apostles determined to help out the situation. Here is what they did.
Acts 8:14-16 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.)Seeing that the Samaritans believed and were baptized, the Apostles at Jerusalem delegated Peter and John to go to them. Peter was always involved in such instances, since the disciples knew he was a sort of spokesman, having the keys of the kingdom given to him by Jesus (Matthew 16).
Here is what occurred after the two apostles arrived.
Acts 8:17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.This is what the "two experiences" proponents describe as the "second experience." The "first experience" was already known by the Samaritans, because they propose one automatically receives the Holy Ghost when one believes and is baptized. These Samaritans believed and were baptized before Peter and John even came to them. So these people already had "received the Holy Ghost", according to the "two experiences" proponents.
But there is a major flaw in the reasoning of the "two experiences" proponents. They say that the "first experience" of receiving the Holy Ghost occurs without supernatural manifestation and is automatic upon faith and baptism. Its what the apostles had when Jesus breathed upon them and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost."
John 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:However, the problem arises in their theory because what these people will call the "second experience" was also termed as "receiving the Holy Ghost" just as their alleged "first experience"! So we must ask ourselves, did the Samaritans "receive the Holy Ghost" (John 20:22) before they "received the Holy Ghost" (Acts 8:17)? Is "receiving the Holy Ghost" a different experience apart from "receiving the Holy Ghost"? Both of the alleged two different experiences were termed the same thing in the Bible when you compare Acts 8:17 with John 20:22!
The above case shows us that one does not "receive the Holy Ghost" automatically when one is baptized. Peter and John were summoned to come and pray for these people that they might "receive the Holy Ghost".
Also, we find another term used to describe this so-called "second experience".
Acts 8:16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)So now we have a larger list of terms used for the alleged "second experience".
|John 20:22 -- "receive ye the Holy Ghost."||Acts 8:17 "receive the Holy Ghost"|
|Acts 1:4 "receive the promise of the Father"|
|Acts 1:5 "Baptized with the Holy Ghost"|
|Acts 2:4 "Filled with the Holy Ghost"|
|Acts 1:8 "Receive power" of the Holy Ghost|
|Acts 8:16 Having the Holy Ghost "fall upon" one.|
The conclusion that one "receives" the Holy Ghost as a first experience
of the Spirit followed by a second experience of "receiving the Holy Ghost"
is simply nonsensical. Note: The Bible called the alleged two
experiences by the same term "receive the Holy Ghost". They are not
two different experiences. they are one and the same experience.
The answer is "No."
The disciples did not receive the Holy Ghost when Jesus breathed on them in John 20:22. Jesus was speaking prophetically about what would occur on the day of Pentecost. Otherwise they received the Holy GHost after they received the Holy Ghost, and that is nonsensical. Jesus often spoke prophetically of the Holy Ghost baptism, and did not imply it was available for experience the moment He told of it. Here is one explicit example.
John 7:38-39 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet [given]; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)He spoke in terms as though it was then-present. But we see an explanation in parentheses saying this referred to the Spirit which was not yet given.
In John 20:22, Jesus was speaking of their need to receive the Holy
Ghost, and His breath upon them signified the breath of life that God gave
to Adam that He might become a living soul. On the day of Pentecost,
the "mighty rushing wind" was the fulfillment of these prophetic words
Acts 10:44-47 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?As the Gentiles heard Peter preach the Word, the gift of the Holy Ghost was "poured out" upon them. This is what the "two experiences" proponents would term the "second experience". Peter later recounted his experience with the Gentiles in Acts Chapter 10, using these words:
Acts 11:15-17 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?Again we see stated that "the falling of the Holy Ghost upon a person" is the same experience as being baptized with the Holy Ghost. And Peter called it the "like gift as he did unto us". In other words, that baptism of the Holy Ghost is the GIFT of the Holy Ghost mentioned in Acts 2:38. Peter said it was the "LIKE GIFT", or the "SAME GIFT."
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.And we already know that the baptism of the Holy Ghost is synonymous with receiving the promise of the Father, from our list. So when Peter continues speaking after Acts 2:38, we know the reference to the PROMISE is the reference to GIFT of the Holy Ghost, which is the experience of having the Holy Ghost fall upon you, or being baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.Peter treated the GIFT of the Holy Ghost as synonymous with the PROMISE and having the Spirit fall upon you. Peter retold the same event in Acts 15.
Acts 15:7-8 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;Notice the terms he used. He described this experience as "giving them the Holy Ghost." And we find that when God gave them the Holy Ghost, they spoke in tongues.
Acts 10:45-46 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,So again here are the terms used so far to be synonymous with the one and the same experience.
When Jesus breathed on them and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," He was not speaking about an experience one can get before one is baptized with the Holy Ghost. Acts 8:15 says that receiving the Holy Ghost is the same experience as having the baptism of the Holy Ghost. He was speaking in prophetic tones just as He did in John 7:38 where he told people to come to Him and drink rivers of living water, when the next verses stated it was actually not possible at that point in time.
What many people do is stand upon their personal experiences and interpret the Bible from that perspective, and that is a very dangerous method. Some contend that they have struggled for months trying to "receive the Holy Ghost", and then reason that this cannot be what God means by the gift of the Holy Ghost in Acts 2:38, because it should not be a struggle to receive a gift if God wants to give and we want to receive it. Some have even pretended to speak in tongues to alleviate the concerns of those around them who9 want them to speak in tongues in order to know they are baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Regardless of our own personal experiences, the Bible is to be taken
as face value and not sorted out through comparing its words with what
we have or have not experienced. We must line up with the Word, and
not have the Word line up with what we found to be true in our own lives.
Should some people struggle to receive the Spirit, that does not change
the Word of God. There is a definite and supernatural experience
of Spirit Baptism that is a gift to everyone the Lord should ever call
The struggle that some have in receiving the Spirit Baptism, and subsequently trying to re-interpret scripture to fit their experiences, reminds me of a hypothetical situation where a person simply has not understood the need for us to pray in Jesus' name by faith. Lets say this person prays and prays and prays, thinking that simply saying the name "Jesus" will create a miracle much like the children's stories propose that saying ABRA-CA-DABRA would be imagined to do so. And nothing happens. Prayers are never answered. And since the person has not exerted faith in Christ's work on the cross to accomplish the provision for our prayers' requests, but has instead looked for the words to do the work, and did not see it, that person might easily feel that prayer does not work. We can easily see that the missing factor is that the person had a wrong concept that God was simply not going to honour, since it is so pagan in nature. So when they study scriptures after such a struggle, they might distort scripture so much so until they believe, as some people actually propose, that the Hebrew pronunciation of the name JESUS must be the answer. That must be the key they lacked, they reason.
That aspect of a missing factor, totally unknown to the very sincere person who is praying, reminds me of the condition of anyone seeking the baptism of the Spirit who simply never find themselves speaking in tongues and receiving it.
The point is that the hypothetical person in my example was sincere,
but erringly interpreted the Bible's teachings based upon faulty and imperfect
experiences, which is what experiences alone will always be. Our
experiences are not foundations upon which we interpret scripture. Experiences
are given to any number of variables due to our multi-faceted differences
of personalities, so much so, that one can never correctly interpret
scriptures from such a perspective. For that reason, without considering
any experiences, one must look at the Bible's words alone
and see what they are saying. As scripture stands all
by itself, without any other reference, especially varying personal
experiences, we are honest with our own consciences and discover what it