Q. How do people receive the Holy Spirit?
A. Believers receive the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation.
When Jesus prepared His disciples for His departure, He let them know they would not be alone; “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26).” The Holy Spirit did not indwell believers until after Jesus went back up to heaven.
The Holy Spirit first came to live inside believers during a Jewish holiday called Pentecost, which was the anniversary of God giving Moses the law. At that moment, described in Acts 2, believers everywhere were simultaneously filled with God’s Holy Spirit.
From that time on, as soon as a person trusts in Christ for their salvation, they also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 says, “In Him (Jesus) you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” While some will debate when the Holy Spirit comes, the verse above indicates that we are sealed by the Spirit as soon as we believe.
Romans 8:9 teaches that all saved people possess the Holy Spirit, so there cannot be a time where a person is saved without the Holy Spirit. He cannot come later in a believer’s life, as some teach. Finally, the Holy Spirit is called the guarantee of our salvation (Ephesians 1:14), the one who seals us (v.13); if He is the one securing our salvation, He must be present from the moment of salvation.