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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Are There Outward Signs of Receiving the Holy Spirit?

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Don Stewart

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The Holy Spirit is received when a person believes in Jesus Christ. Should we expect some outward sign that the Holy Spirit has been received? Although certain individuals in the New Testament exhibited signs when they received the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues, the Bible does not allow us to make this the norm for everyone.
On the Day of Pentecost the disciples of Jesus received the gift of tongues when the Holy Spirit came upon them:

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4).

When Peter then preached to the multitude, he promised them the Holy Spirit upon believing:

Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of the Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

Yet, when these people believed, there is no indication of any outward signs of their reception of the Holy Spirit:

Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them (Acts 2:41).

As we study different accounts of conversion as recorded in the Book of Acts we find no accompanying signs in the following instances: 4:4; 6:7; 8:14-36; 9:1-42; 17:32-34.

Demands No Answer

In writing to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul asked, "Do all speak with tongues?" (1 Corinthians 12:30). The question is asked in such a way that the Greek grammar demands an answer of no. If tongues were a sign of receiving the Holy Spirit, then Paul would have not asked the question.

The evidence of the reception of the Holy Spirit is not so much an outward sign but a changed life:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Therefore, rather than expecting some outward evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit, we should expect to see changes in our lives. This is the evidence a person has received the Holy Spirit.

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