In the ancient church, when you became a Christian, you got baptized. This was an outward sign to you and the people that you were committed to a new life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and it was a covenant between you and God which God ratified (that is, he made it real) by sending his Holy Spirit. John said, “I baptized you with water, but he who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
And he did. At Pentecost. 2nd chapter of Acts. Tongues of Fire. Speaking in Tongues. “We’re not drunk as you suppose.” Peter preaches. 3,000 get saved. Yea! And it happened over and over again. It was so regular and predictable that Simon the sorcerer offered Peter money so he could lay hands on people for them to receive the Holy Spirit.
But you know, not everybody gets their own personal fireworks display when they get saved. For most of us, it’s a pretty quiet experience even if we charged down the aisle during a Billy Graham Crusade. To be a Christian, you have to receive the Holy Spirit, but how do you know you have him? This got really weird when early Christians started having babies. Parents dutifully baptized their babies into the church, but how do you know they really believe?
So, when kids hit a certain age – an age of responsibility – the elders would quiz them on what they believed. Then they would lay hands on them and confirm that they really were in fact Christians. They called this whole ritual “confirmation,” and they believed that was when you actually received the Holy Spirit.
So, two questions –
- How do you know you’ve received the Holy Spirit?
- What difference does it make?