Why can't I receive the Holy Spirit?

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Readers Question / Comment - Why can't I receive the Holy Spirit?

Hi. I've been wanting to receive the Holy Spirit for months now and I've been asking God but it's not working. I don't know what to do! I feel like I'm doing something wrong or Jesus is mad at me for some reason. I just don't get why it didn't happen yet...will you please tell me what i should do.? thank you.

JPN Reply:


thanks for the email. If you are a Christian, why do you think you haven't received the Holy Spirit? According to the Bible all believers have received the Holy Spirit. They do so the moment they truly believe.

Ephesians 1:13-14 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, (14) who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory.

John 7:38-39 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (39) By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Romans 8:9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

So by saying that you haven't received the Holy Spirit, are you saying that you haven't 'felt' anything or had a supernatural experience or haven't received a particular spiritual gift? How long have you been a believer for?

I have more to say but I'll await your reply first. : )

Again, thanks for writing in and may God bless.

The Readers Reply:

Well, I thought when you receive the Holy Spirit you speak in tongues and other things. Isn't that what's suppose to happen ?

JPN Reply:


thanks for clarifying why you thought you hadn't received the Holy Spirit. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that the sign of receiving the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues. But that is not always the case. The fact is, that speaking in tongues is one of many different 'gifts' that the Holy Spirit gives to believers as He wills. Paul is quite clear about this when he writes:

1 Corinthians 12:28-31 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. (29) Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? (30) Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? (31) But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.

The answer to Paul's questions of Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all have the gift of healing? Do all speak in tongues etc... is 'no'. That is why he said earlier in the chapter that the Holy Spirit gives these gifts as He wills (or determines). It is up to Him - He makes the choice as to what gifts He gives.

1 Corinthians 12:11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
The fact is that there are a variety of 'gifts' and some and things that people may not see as a gift of the Spirit (but they are) like the gift of helping others, the gift of administration, the gift of encouraging etc.

Romans 12:6-8 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. (7) If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; (8) if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Also remember, as Paul writes in 1 Cor 13 that having love is greater than all of these things!

On a personal level, when I became a Christian (just over 20 years ago) I went 'forward' as different church services over 10 times to receive the 'baptism of the Spirit' which I thought at the time was basically receiving the gift of tongues and/or an experience of enabling and power. Each time NOTHING happened! After that, my friend that I helped lead to the Lord, went to a church service and without having even read about 'speaking in tongues' or what happened when the Holy Spirit came in Acts 2, started speaking in tongues and had quite a radical supernatural experience that reminded me completely of Acts 2. So... here I was desperately wanting some experience and getting nothing and here he was knowing nothing about it and not seeking it and he received it. Why? Well, all I know is that God knew the situation my friend had to go home into where his mother was deeply into the New Age following Indian Guru's and he came under a lot of spiritual attack. God knew what was required to strengthen him at this time. And his mother saw the change in him and became a believer herself!

And me... well, I had no such initial experience and don't speak in tongues, yet God has given me other gifts as He saw fit. And that's ok! : )

So... the bottom line is this: Don't ever judge God's love for you based on what you have or have not experienced. A person receives the Holy Spirit when they truly believe and while He does ask us to seek Him and the gifts/work of His Holy Spirit in our lives, we shouldn't base our faith upon any experience or lack thereof. Base your faith on the word of God and God's faithfulness and promises! As you grow as a Christian different experiences will come and go, but God's love for you will always remain the same.

God Bless.

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