Is it possible for a Christian to receive more of God’s Holy Spirit?
The answer is yes, and the way in which this might occur involves personal growth as well as God choosing someone to fulfill a special function in His service.
First of all, understand that God gives man His Holy Spirit as a gift. Peter explains this in context in Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [Margin: forgiveness] of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”
Paul further describes the purpose of God’s gift: “In Him [Christ] you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, [which] is the guarantee [Margin: down payment, earnest] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14; also, compare 2 Corinthians 5:5).
Besides being a kind of “down payment” of eternal life, Christians are to use God’s power–His Holy Spirit–to live a converted life. We find this dramatic contrast of two ways of living explained in Romans 8: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Verses 5-6).
Just repenting and just receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is not enough–this is not the complete process God has established for mankind to enter into eternal life. In His message to the seven churches found in Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus Christ summarizes His instructions to each group with these words: “‘To him who overcomes…'” (Compare Revelation 2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:26; 3:5; 3:12; 3:21).
Consider how Paul encouraged Timothy, a young minister under his guidance, to use the gift of the Holy Spirit:
“Therefore I remind you to STIR UP the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
Power, love and a sound mind are all areas in which Christians are to grow, and that growth comes through utilizing God’s Holy Spirit. One particular way for each of us to experience this kind of change and growth is revealed in Paul’s letter to the Christians in Philippi: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5).
Jesus taught a parable concerning a barren fig tree (Compare Luke 13:6-9). The issue was that this tree was not bearing any fruit. In the end, if this tree did not bear its fruit, it was to be cut down. The point for us is that we must utilize the Spirit of God and bear the fruit of conversion–that is, lives that are becoming more and more like those of the Father and Jesus Christ (Compare Matthew 5:48).
King David understood that his own actions had separated himself from God. In deep and bitter repentance he acknowledged his mistakes. David’s prayer is recorded in Psalm 51, and in it, he makes this startling request: “Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (verse 11).
Christians have an accountability to utilize what God has given them. In fact, Jesus taught in the parable of the talents that we will be judged and rewarded according to how productively we incorporate God’s power in our lives (Compare Matthew 25:14-30)! Here is how Peter presents this challenge: “…but GROW in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
We also find the record of individuals who did just that. When the seven were chosen to fulfill needed roles in the Church, the men were to be “full of the Holy Spirit…” (Acts 6:3). Quite obviously, these men were chosen based on their fruits of God’s Holy Spirit (Compare Galatians 5:22-23).
In 1 Corinthians 12, spiritual gifts that are given for the conduct of the Church of God are explained: “There are diversities [Margin: allotments or various kinds] of gifts, but the same Spirit” (verse 4); “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers,
after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues” (verses 27-28).
Further explanation of these various kinds of gifts is found in Ephesians 4: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” (Verses 11-13).
Numbers 11 shows that God actually took some of the Spirit given to Moses and gave it to elders in Israel in order that they could be empowered to assist Moses (Compare verses17; 25-26). And Elisha received a double portion of the Spirit that Elijah had (Compare 2 Kings 2:9-12).
However, in the case of Jesus Christ and God’s giving of His Holy Spirit to Him, we find this statement from John the Baptist: “‘For he [Christ] whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him [Christ]'” (John 3:34, Authorized Version).
Another example is that of John the Baptist. Here is what the angel, Gabriel, said to Zacharias: “‘…He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb'” (Luke 1:15).
Generally, God gives us only a small portion of His Holy Spirit at the time of our proper baptism. But God expects of us that we use His Spirit, and that we grow in God’s Way of life so that He can give us MORE of His Spirit. That is why we read that we have to consistently be RENEWED in the spirit of our mind (Ephesians 4:23). Paul addresses converted Christians in Romans 12:2, when he tells them: “And do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” This is a continuous process, and the supply of the Holy Spirit helps us to accomplish this change (Philippians 1:19).
We read in the NewTestament, in the Book of Acts, that Paul and Barnabas were ordained for a special work in the Church of God (13:1-4).
The Biblical record shows that God will use zealous individuals. In explaining the qualifications of an elder, Paul states: “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work” (1Timothy 3:1). In these instances, when a man is ordained to the ministry, God grants helps through His Holy Spirit (Compare Luke10:17-20; Mark 16:15-18).
Finally, if you desire to have more ofGod’s Holy Spirit, ask! (Compare Luke 11:13). We have this further assurance: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14); “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).
Lead Writer: Dave Harris