Acts 19 begins with Paul stumbling upon a group of disciples in Ephesus that seemed different from those he had encountered elsewhere. So different he asked them point-blank, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). This, on the surface, seems like a strange question. After all, how could they be “disciples” and not have the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9)? Didn’t Paul write to the church at Ephesus that all believers are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Eph. 1:13-14)? And if so, is there a difference between “knowing” the Holy Spirit and “receiving” the Holy Spirit?
Plus, when Jesus introduced the Holy Spirit to His disciples in John 14, He made this statement:
“And I will pray (ask) the Father, and He will give you another (állos – of the same kind, an exact replica) Helper (paráklētos – to comfort, encourage or exhort), that He may abide (live, rest, dwell, make His home) with you forever— (described as) the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows (ginōskō) Him; but you know (ginōskō) Him, (how) for He dwells with you (present) and will be in you (future). I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you (future)” – John 14:16-18.
In this statement about the Holy Spirit, Jesus makes a distinction between the lost world and those whom He will redeem, the chosen (Eph. 1:4), the children of God (Rom. 8:16-17). And this distinction is the ability to “see” and “know” (ginōskō) the Holy Spirit. The word translated know (ginōskō), does not mean to know in a cognitive sense, such as, “I know that George Washington was the first president of the United States.” It is not mental, factual, academic knowledge only. To know (ginōskō), as Jesus said we would “know” the Holy Spirit, is an intimate knowledge (as Adam “knew” his wife Eve and as Joseph did not “know” his wife Mary “until she had brought forth her firstborn Son”). The word ginōskō also means to know by experience, to know completely, to know and place one’s favor and acceptance upon. It is a powerful word that reveals more about parents knowing their child than a student knowing the answers to Friday’s pop quiz.
And this is how Jesus said we are to know (ginōskō) and do know (ginōskō), the Holy Spirit (John 14:17).
Do you know the Holy Spirit that way?
But How Can I Know the Holy Spirit?
This is the question that is asked by many today as we see the possibility of the Higher Christian Life and compare it to the lukewarm relationship we have with the Lord— and even a less than lukewarm relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Plus, when you consider the familiar verses found at the beginning of Romans 12, and realize the Person of the Godhead we are to “present your bodies (to as) a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1) is none other than the Holy Spirit, it begins to make our lack of intimacy with the One who lives in us almost unbearable. Think, God the Father is in heaven seated on His throne. Jesus is right now at the right hand of the Father (Rom. 8:34, Eph. 1:20, Col. 3:1) continually interceding for us (Heb. 7:25). And where is the Holy Spirit? Exactly. He is here on earth, living in you and me.
God the Father has never been revealed to us in a body nor does He have a need for one since He is sitting on His throne in heaven. Jesus already has a body and may reveal Himself to us throughout all eternity in His broken body bearing the marks of His atonement for our sin. This may be the meaning of John’s description of Jesus in the Revelation as, “a Lamb as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6).
And the Holy Spirit?
He inhabits your body. He empowers us with His gifts of ministry to bring the Lord glory while we live out our life on this earth. He makes our bodies a temple, a dwelling place of the Most High and Holy God. Let me close with just two passages to stir your thinking. And notice how the Scriptures specifically state the Holy Spirit now lives in our bodies.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you – Romans 8:11.
In this message, we will begin to unpack these truths in order to inspire you to make it your “aim to be well-pleasing to Him” (2 Cor. 5:9), by aspiring to the Higher Christan Life found only by an infusion of the Holy Spirit, and received only by faith.