Signs That Show You’ve Received The Holy Spirit

Author and pastor, Dr Stuart Pattico, explains why a believer receives the Holy Spirit the moment they decide to follow Christ and not when they speak in tongues

It is not only those who speak in tongues that have the Holy Spirit. ‘Tongues’ is just one gift of many. Paul asked rhetorically: “Do all speak with tongues?” (1 Corinthians 12:30). This question anticipates the answer “No”. So, how and when does someone receive the Spirit? Let’s explore…

John the Baptist declared that Jesus would baptise people with the Spirit (Matthew 3:11). Jesus encouraged His disciples to ask God for the Spirit so they could receive Him on the day of Pentecost (Luke 11:13). On the day of His resurrection, Jesus gave the 10 apostles that were present a foretaste of the Spirit by breathing on them (John 20:22). After returning to heaven, Jesus poured out the Spirit on the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Peter told the crowds that gathered: “Repent, and be baptised…. and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 NRSV).

Peter’s words indicate that the Spirit is automatically given when someone repents and is baptised in water. Peter didn’t indicate that the believer needs to do anything else to receive Him. Therefore, in Acts, the author normally doesn’t detail the converts’ reception of the Spirit. It is assumed that those who repent and are baptised receive the Spirit. The author only details the converts’ reception of the Spirit on the few occasions when the Spirit wasn’t given automatically at baptism. He mentions these occasions because they were not normative.

The first of these occasions occurred in Samaria. The Spirit was withheld from the Samaritan believers until the apostles laid hands on them (Acts 8:14-17). It seems that this was to demonstrate the unique authority the apostles had in that early foundational period of the Church’s history. Paul taught that the apostles were the historic foundation upon which the Church was built (Ephesians 2:20), and as such they were authenticated by special miraculous signs (2 Corinthians 12:12). The Samaritans were the first converts outside of Jerusalem. It seems that God withheld the Spirit from them until the apostles laid hands on them to demonstrate the status of the apostles as the foundation upon which the Church is built.

The second of these occasions occurred when the Gospel reached the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48). The Jews considered the Gentiles to be ceremonially unclean. So, when God gave them the Spirit even before they were baptised, it demonstrated beyond doubt that He had accepted the Gentiles as His people (Acts 10:44-48).

The third of these occasions occurred in Ephesus, where God withheld the gift of the Spirit until Paul laid hands on them (Acts 19:1-6). Interestingly, when Paul came across these Ephesian disciples and learned they hadn’t received the Spirit, he immediately asked: “Into what, then, were you baptised?” (Acts 19:3 NRSV). Paul knew that the Spirit is given through being baptised into Christ. Therefore, as these Ephesian disciples didn’t have the Spirit, they must not have received Christian baptism. It turned out they had only received the baptism administered by John the Baptist, which was to get people ready for Christ. Paul then re-baptised them in Christ’s Name, laid hands on them, and they received the Spirit. It seems to me that the bestowal of the Spirit upon the Ephesian disciples through Paul’s hands demonstrated he had equal apostleship with the other apostles.

In his epistles, Paul also linked water baptism and being baptised in the Spirit. Paul referred to water baptism as being “baptised into Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Paul also taught that when we are baptised into Christ, we are also baptised in the Spirit: ‘For in the one Spirit we were all baptised into one body’ (1 Corinthians 12:13 NRSV). In other words, when we are baptised into Christ through water baptism, we are also baptised in the Spirit.

In Galatians 3:26-27, Paul used the terms ‘faith’ and ‘baptised into Christ’ interchangeably. For Paul, being baptised is part of what it means to put one’s faith in Jesus. Because baptism is part of what it means to believe in Jesus, the Spirit is also said to be received ‘through faith’ in Jesus (Galatians 3:14). All who have been baptised into Christ have the Spirit, whether they speak in tongues or not (Romans 8:9).

Dr Stuart Pattico is pastor of Joy Community Church in Milton Keynes  You can read more about this topic in Dr Pattico’s latest book, Receiving the Holy Spirit, on Amazon at  You can also visit

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