From the book ‘Pathways in Heaven’ …
Many are offended when they hear someone say there is something more to be received from God. You’ll hear them say, “I received everything I’ll ever need when I was saved. I don’t need a ‘second blessing’.” I agree with them. They are saved. They are now a part of the God’s family. They have received everything they’ll ever need.
Please don’t fault me for not wanting to stop with simply what I need. Once saved, I knew I had everything I needed. I knew one day I would go to heaven. But, I also knew there was more I wanted.
The answer to what I wanted came as I studied the Book of Acts. As I studied the book, I read about the miraculous. I read about the dead being raised. I read about whole families and towns turning to the Lord. Why was my own church experience so different from what I read? The answer came from a study of the following verses:
And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
The key to understanding the passage for me was to study the phrase “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Specifically, to understand the Greek word translated ‘receive’.
There are several Greek words translated into ‘receive’ in English. The Greek word ‘dechomai’ means to receive something passively. You can passively receive something, as is the case when someone hands you a gift. The word in Acts 19:2 is the Greek word ‘lambano’. It means to actively lay hold upon something.
The example which made the difference clear to me is the example of a person who receives (lambano) a commission as a military officer. Receiving a military commission takes active participation on the part of the candidate. It also takes active pursuit.
Everything we receive from God is by grace alone. We don’t earn the gifts of God (as if we could put a price on them). Yet James 4:8 exhorts us to: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Receiving a military commission changes the recipient forever. It changes their identity. The commission an officer receives becomes who they are. They are an officer for the rest of their lives. The gifts of God are not external gifts to hold, they are internal transformations. They change our very nature.
This understanding changed something inside of me. I was no longer going to sit back passively waiting for God to drop a gift in my lap. I was going pursue God. I came to understand God is not offended when we actively pursue Him.
This new understanding brought an intense determination. It brought a burning desire within me. I wanted to experience my full inheritance as a child of God. If God had it for me, I wanted it! I wanted to be changed into His image! I wanted to posses everything bought and paid for by the cross of Jesus Christ. I wasn’t going to be robbed nor cheated of what was my inheritance!
Like Jacob of the Bible, the day came when I went into a wrestling match with God and I wasn’t going to let go of God until I received a blessing! My wrestling match with God lasted most of one day and all of one night. I wasn’t going to let go of God until I received an answer to the burning desire in my heart for my rightful inheritance as a child of God.
What happened? By the dawn of the next day, I was exhausted, in total peace and speaking in tongues.
I had received my answer.