How and when is one born of the Spirit of God?
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|The gift of the Holy
Spirit is simply a degree of God's Spirit by which He
indwells believers who have made a covenant to obey Him.
Saying that you "accept" Christ is not enough.
Before you can receive this gift, you must have a faith
that bears fruit, repentance that is more than a change
of mind, and a willingness to obey.
Does the gift of the Holy Spirit precede or follow water baptism? The pattern that Christ established would indicate that it is entirely appropriate for water baptism to precede the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
When Peter preached the gospel on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:36 tells us that the people were "pricked in their heart [s]." They believed the gospel but had not yet received that degree of God's Spirit called the "gift of the Holy Ghost." Why? Because faith "alone" is not enough. The believer must also repent of his or her sins (Acts 3:19). Remember that repentance is necessary for salvation.
In Acts 8, believers at Samaria had been baptized in water but had not yet received the gift of the Holy Ghost. As we mentioned earlier, being born of water could not occur unless faith, repentance and surrender were clearly evident. Despite this, they had still not received the gift of the Holy Ghost:
How could this be? This seems to contradict everything that evangelical ministers teach? Isn't the indwelling of the Holy Spirit always granted to people when they first believe? Why didn't this occur in Samaria? Because it is possible for the gift of the Holy Spirit to be granted sometime after initial belief.
Theologians argue about whether it was more "normative" in the New Testament church to receive this gift at the point of initial belief or by laying on hands. Because this is intended to be a short explanation, we merely want to establish that the gift of the Holy Ghost can occur at a different time from initial belief and that laying on hands is a legitimate means by which God conveys that gift (I Timothy 4:14; II Timothy 1:6). We should find this pattern wherever Christ's true church exists.
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