Many people have trouble receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit and I believe in part it is misunderstandings of the word receive as it is translated in our Bibles. I think this baptism is so controversial because so many truly do not understand what the Lord is saying to us. Please consider the following verses:
Acts 8:14-17 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
The first use of the word “received” is the word dechomai in Greek (Strong’s G1209) and the other two uses of the word “receive(d)” is lambano in Greek (Strong’s G2983).
The definition of dechomai literally means: to receive by deliberate and ready reception of what is offered. It denotes very little action beyond being happy to take possession of something. An example is receiving a kind word or receiving a guest into your home. That is the meaning of dechomai.
The definition of lambano is: to seize, to take, lay hold of; to receive into action or use. Lambano implies action into some kind of manifestation, such as when you receive an order from a superior and immediately act upon it. Your action is the manifestation of receiving the order. Or, when you take something in hand, like a five dollar bill, and then use it to buy lunch. You have it in your possession; you used it and now there is the manifestation, the result of the action which is lunch. If you do not take the bill, you can’t have lunch. You put it into manifestation. That is the meaning of lambano.
In the next verse we want to examine, Jesus is speaking to His apostles, and Jesus is saying lambano ye the Holy Ghost. It is not a passive thing but is rather a very active event. They needed to take the Holy Spirit, and put it into action.
John 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
In the first chapter of Acts, Jesus tells the apostles that they shall lambano power after the Holy Ghost has come upon them. They must actively take the power and place it into action or manifestation.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Back in Matthew, to one of my all-time favorite verses, Jesus again tells the disciples they have freely lambano-ed and needed to freely give what they had lambano-ed. Forgive my butchering of the Greek.
Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
The whole idea is that we are to actively receive the Holy Spirit and begin to act upon that which we have received. Thus, to act upon this we must believe we have received and trust the Lord to help us and teach us how to put it into action. We are not baptized with power so we can sit around and brag about it, but so we can reach out and help other people. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a baptism of service for the service of others and it is for all who will lambano it!
God bless you all in the matchless and priceless name of Jesus!