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When do we receive the Holy Spirit? At the moment we believe or by the laying on of hands?

The controversy exists today on whether receiving salvation and receiving the Spirit are a two-step process. Do you believe in God, get baptized in water, then get baptized in the Spirit?

For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 1 Corinthians 12:13

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. Romans 8:9

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, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

From these verses, it appears that Paul was saying that everyone receives the Spirit of Christ when they hear the word of truth.

It does not appear to be an either/or, but a both/and. Salvation AND Spirit.

Yet we read in Scripture of times when the laying on of hands invited the Holy Spirit into someone's life.

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:14-17

            Why did this happen?

Remember, this was the NEW church.  Things were just getting started.  Word had gotten out about Jesus Christ and his resurrection, but not everybody knew about the Holy Spirit.  They had a partial faith in what they understood about God.  Now, thanks to the efforts of Paul and other evangelists, they had a complete faith in the Trinity.  So they received that part of the faith package through the laying on of hands.

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”  On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. Acts 19:1-7

These believers had no idea there was a Holy Spirit.  Paul gave them all the information and sealed it by laying his hands on them.  It was not the laying on of hands that was important...it was the acceptance of the truth.

Things were also happening dramatically to make an impact on these new believers.  God wanted to kickstart this new movement with signs and wonders (speaking in tongues, fire over their heads, healings, etc.)  But every time someone received the Holy Spirit or the Holy Spirit poured out, there isn't always a mention of laying on of hands (Acts 2:38, 4:31, 10:44, 11:15)

So today, when you believe, you receive all the Holy Spirit you are going to receive. As you mature, you begin to allow the Holy Spirit more control over your life.

Some may feel like they have not allowed the Spirit full control of their lives and choose to go through a ceremony when they have hands laid on them, and through that give the Holy Spirit permission to fully engage them in God’s work. That seems biblical and has worked for many to get a fresh start in their Christian life.
                                                                                    
But is it necessary?  No.  The Holy Spirit comes and goes as he pleases.  In Acts 8, a man named Simon tried to buy information about the laying on of hands.  Peter told him it doesn't work that way.

If the laying on hands works as a symbolical gesture of God’s protection and empowerment, then go for it.  But the Bible is clear that when you are saved, you receive all the Holy Spirit you would ever need to be totally saved.