The following is a compilation of passages containing the word 'receive' with some summary thoughts in the last half. I found this study quite insightful with much more to think about concerning implications in how I relate to God.
Receive the Kingdom
If you are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, who is to come. (Matthew 11:13-14)
"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, the Holy One, to receive the glory, the honor, and the power, for you created all things, and because of your desire they existed, and were created!" (Revelation 4:11)
saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who has been killed to receive the power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing!" (Revelation 5:12)
He said therefore, "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. (Luke 19:12)
If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also. (John 14:3)
Therefore, "'Come out from among them, and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Touch no unclean thing. I will receive you. I will be to you a Father. You will be to me sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son..., that we might receive the adoption of children. (Galatians 4:4-5)
He took a little child, and set him in the midst of them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever receives one such little child in my name, receives me, and whoever receives me, doesn't receive me, but him who sent me."
Most certainly I tell you, whoever will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child, he will in no way enter into it." (Mark 9:36-37; 10:15; Luke 18:17)
For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)
I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as didn't worship the beast nor his image, and didn't receive the mark on their forehead and on their hand. They lived, and reigned with Christ for the thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
"Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, so that there may come times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Christ Jesus, who was ordained for you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things. (Acts 3:19-21)
Resisting the Kingdom
Most certainly I tell you, we speak that which we know, and testify of that which we have seen, and you don't receive our witness. (John 3:11)
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is God's testimony which he has testified concerning his Son. (1 John 5:9)
I don't receive glory from men. But I know you, that you don't have God's love in yourselves. I have come in my Father's name, and you don't receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, who receive glory from one another, and you don't seek the glory that comes from the only God? (John 5:41-44)
They didn't receive him, because he was traveling with his face set towards Jerusalem. (Luke 9:53)
He came to his own, and those who were his own didn't receive him. (John 1:11)
They stoned Stephen as he called out, saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit!" (Acts 7:59)
Receive the Word of Good News
they saw Jesus walking on the sea, ...and they were afraid. But he said to them, "I AM. Don't be afraid." They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat. (John 6:19-21)
Into whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat the things that are set before you. Heal the sick who are therein, and tell them, 'The Kingdom of God has come near to you.' But into whatever city you enter, and they don't receive you, go out into the streets of it and say, 'Even the dust from your city that clings to us, we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the Kingdom of God has come near to you.' (Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5; 10:8-11)
He answered, "Haven't you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall join to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?' So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don't let man tear apart."
I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries her when she is divorced commits adultery." His disciples said to him, "If this is the case of the man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry." But he said to them, "Not all men can receive this saying, but those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake. He who is able to receive it, let him receive it." (Matthew 19:4-6, 9-12)
...they gave of their own accord, begging us with much entreaty to receive this grace and the fellowship in the service to the saints. (2 Corinthians 8:3-4)
But I make known to you, brothers, concerning the Good News which was preached by me, that it is not according to man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)
Let us therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace for help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
Therefore, putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with humility the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21)
Resisting Receiving the Good News
Working together, we entreat also that you not receive the grace of God in vain, (2 Corinthians 6:1)
who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with joy. Yet they have no root in themselves, and are short-lived. (Mark 4:16-17; Luke 8:13)
"It happened that, when I had returned to Jerusalem, and while I prayed in the temple, I fell into a trance, and saw him saying to me, 'Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not receive testimony concerning me from you.' (Acts 22:17-18)
For even they who receive circumcision don't keep the law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may boast in your flesh. (Galatians 6:13)
Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing.
...those who are being lost, because they didn't receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
(2 Thessalonians 2:10)
He who rejects me, and doesn't receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke, the same will judge him in the last day. (John 12:48)
But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. For let that man not think that he will receive anything from the Lord.
You lust, and don't have. You kill, covet, and can't obtain. You fight and make war. You don't have, because you don't ask. You ask, and don't receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures. (James 4:2-3)
You Can Only Receive What is Offered
For who makes you different? And what do you have that you didn't receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)
John answered, "A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven. (John 3:27)
Receive the Holy Spirit
I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, that he may be with you forever,-- the Spirit of truth, whom the world can't receive; for it doesn't see him, neither knows him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)
He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, from within him will flow rivers of living water." But he said this about the Spirit, which those believing in him were to receive. (John 7:38-39)
When he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit! (John 20:22)
Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for as yet he had fallen on none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of Christ Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give me also this power, that whoever I lay my hands on may receive the Holy Spirit." (Acts 8:14-19)
Now the natural man doesn't receive the things of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can't know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
For if he who comes preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or if you receive a different spirit, which you did not receive, or a different "good news", which you did not accept, you put up with that well enough. (2 Corinthians 11:4)
For you didn't receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:15)
I just want to learn this from you. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith? (Galatians 3:2)
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree," that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:13-14)
Receive Physical Sight
the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (Matthew 11:4-5; Luke 7:22)
Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight. Your faith has healed you." (Luke 18:42)
'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' In that very hour I looked up at him. (Acts 22:13)
Receive Siblings in Christ
I commend to you Phoebe, our sister..., that you receive her in the Lord, in a way worthy of the saints.... (Romans 16:1-2)
I say again, let no one think me foolish. But if so, yet receive me as foolish, that I also may boast a little. (2 Corinthians 11:16)
I have sent him therefore the more diligently, that, when you see him again, you may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all joy, and hold such in honor, (Philippians 2:28-29)
Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you received commandments, "if he comes to you, receive him"), (Colossians 4:10)
I am sending him back. Therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, whom I desired to keep with me, that on your behalf he might serve me in my chains for the Good News. (Philemon 1:12-13)
If then you count me a partner, receive him as you would receive me. (Philemon 1:17)
They have testified about your love before the assembly. You will do well to send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, because for the sake of the Name they went out, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we may be fellow workers for the truth. I wrote to the assembly, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, doesn't accept what we say. Therefore, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words. Not content with this, neither does he himself receive the brothers, and those who would, he forbids and throws out of the assembly. (3 John 1:6-10)
If anyone comes to you, and doesn't bring this teaching, don't receive him into your house, and don't welcome him, for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works. (2 John 1:10-11)
Don't receive an accusation against an elder, except at the word of two or three witnesses. (1 Timothy 5:19)
After looking over all these passages related to receiving and resistance to receiving, I want to pull together some insights that are emerging for me.
The message that appears to predominate here is the importance of not only believing but of choosing to receive proactively what God is offering each of us. The kingdom of God is very real and available to anyone, but without a choice to embrace it and allowing ourselves to be molded into harmony with its principles, we could potentially become experts in what it is all about and yet still fail to actually participate in it because we never actually received it for ourselves.
Receive the Kingdom
(Matthew 11:13-14) If you are willing to receive it, the Elijah message can prepare us to receive the Jesus message that God really is good. (Revelation 4:11; 5:12) The revelation of the real truth about God is only seen in the Lamb of God who so clearly exhibited God's humility, love and non-violent nature that in the end it will become clear to everyone that the Lamb is completely trustworthy of all glory, honor and praise. The power of the Lamb is in His credibility, not from His use of raw force. It is becoming more and more clear that God's methods are the Lamb's methods. And nothing makes this more obvious than the fact that this Lamb allowed Himself to be mistreated violently without resisting evil people just as He taught us to do. Rather than living defensively, the Lamb presents a God who lives just the opposite in order to win our full confidence and trust that love is greater than selfishness.
(Luke 19:12) The Son of God, a noble man to the fullest extent, left His home in heaven to come to this earth to receive a kingdom. The key word in this verse is the word receive. He did not come to capture a kingdom or to impose a kingdom on unwillingly conquered subjects, but simply to offer a kingdom that is based on love to everyone who would be willing to authorize Him to govern their lives from inside their hearts. Those who resist and refuse His kingdom are not threatened with violent punishment in retaliation, but they are warned that they will suffer enormous loss due to the natural cause effect principles that are unavoidable realities of how God designed creation to operate.
(John 14:3; Luke 9:26) Jesus came to this earth the first time to demonstrate in human form the kind of God who designed and is in charge of the universe in stark contrast to our dark opinions about Him. Jesus showed us most clearly how God reacts when pushed around, shamed and abused. After we abused and tortured Him to death He was raised up in spite of our guilty verdict enforced on Him, He then went back to heaven from where He came. We now have been given as much time as we need to decide what we are going to do with His offer of His government based solely on love. Will we receive it when the evidence convicts us that this is the best way to live? Or will we continue to maintain our resistance, preferring our own selfish ways in place of His self-sacrificing methods? Those who receive Him and follow His example He promises to receive to Himself when He returns.
(2 Corinthians 6:17) In addition to showing us the truth about the Father, Jesus replaced Adam as our identifying father with His own identity worked out by His life of complete reliance on His Father, thus recovering the original human design back into being. Now our reality is that every human is now in Christ and derives their only true identity from Him. Yet this was not enough to complete the job of restoring us fully, for to be truly human means to reflect God's true image, for by definition that is humans are designed to do. Because humans are free choice beings we also have to choose to receive and embrace our true identity in Christ, to trust that it is true about ourselves in spite of competing evidence appearing to contradict that reality. As we do receive our true identity by faith, this identity begins to express itself in our outward behavior and in our relationships with others. As we embrace/receive our true identity in Christ we will increasingly separate ourselves from everything that is out of harmony with Christ. This then allows God to receive us because we have received Jesus.
(2 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 4:4-5) By receiving our true identity as only being in Christ and not derived from anything we can do on our own, we experience the reality of what it means to be sons and daughters of God and having Him nurture and grow us up as our true Father. We are family instead of isolated entities in corporations or hierarchal systems that depersonalize us. We learn to live by family principles instead of in law-oriented societies based on reward-punishment ideas. We embrace/receive the reality of being adopted as legitimate children of God instead of feeling alienated from Him by fear.
(Mark 9:36-37; 10:15; Luke 18:17) Experiencing living as children of God requires that we receive both Jesus and all that He stands for as well as each other in the same spirit that a young, innocent child receives others without fears or inhibitions. In this world, growing up usually means increasingly hardening our attitudes toward others in suspicion or in selfish desires to exploit. Jesus teaches that to even be able to enter or see His kingdom we have to start all over again as newborns in the way we perceive reality and how we relate to others. He warns that if we are unwilling to humble ourselves that it will be impossible for us to live in His kingdom, because everyone participating in it must have the same free, trusting, open attitude that marks the beauty and innocence of childhood.
(Romans 5:17) Of course we don't grow up overnight, and growing into maturity in Christ requires being nurtured, guided and corrected when necessary by our heavenly Parents. Even so, God does not treat us the way most parents on earth raise their children, for God's methods are foreign to what we presume is necessary here in our self-oriented world. To grow and thrive in His family we must continue to choose to receive daily the abundance of grace and the gift of being right with God and His undergirding principles of reality. The result of growing in maturity in the body of Christ means we increasingly gain capacity to govern and guide others relying only on God's methods and not the world's. We learn how to reign with Christ using only the spirit and methods of Christ.
(John 3:19-21; 1 John 1:6-7) In the final days of the history of this world as we know it just before Christ returns, those who have chosen to receive and be transformed by Christ's principles and presence in their lives will be given opportunity to expose clearly before the universe the stark contrast between the methods and character of God and the methods and character of Satan. By allowing the light of God's glory, His true character, to be reflected in their interactions and reactions to those around them, even while living during most wicked and violent times, they become judges like Jesus, exposing the truth simply because they live in the light as Jesus lived in the light.
(Revelation 20:4) Those who receive Jesus are transformed by reflecting His principles of selfless love and refuse to participate in the ways of force, coercion and intimidation, even though false religion insists these are God's methods. In this way they do not take on the false identity of the beast in their minds or their practice and they are trusted by God to represent and reflect Him in the darkest hours of history just as Jesus did. This prepares the way for Jesus to come to initiate the next phase of His final solution to sin. At His second coming He gathers all, both living and those who have died trusting in Him and who have received Him throughout history, to spend one thousand years together with Him being knitted to each other into the ultimate reflection of God's glory called the bride of Christ.
Why is it taking so long for God to get rid of sin from the universe? Because only by taking the long route can it be thoroughly assured that sin will never rise again. Sin results from distrust of God and His methods of governing solely by love without reliance on fear. Satan has slandered God by asserting that this is impossible, and sadly many Christians promote that accusation still today. Jesus demonstrated that living in love as a human is not only possible but is life-giving, even though He was killed for doing it. His resurrection revealed that being killed is not that big of a deal if you belong to the One who has the keys that can let you out of that prison. Now God gives time for all to choose if we will receive His kingdom and embrace His methods or not until every individual makes their final choice. Then Jesus will return and everything from that time forward will be an arrangement of circumstances for everyone to be able to demonstrate publicly the natural results of the identity they have chosen to embrace and cultivate for themselves from their heart.
(Acts 3:19-21) Jesus is now in heaven but is still intimately connected with every believing soul who is willing to receive and trust Him as He transforms and restores them. He is strategically in heaven so He can coordinate all the resources of the universe to provide whatever we need for our salvation. When every person has finally made their decisions and their characters are set in whatever shape they have embraced by their choices and habits, Jesus will return to finish what He initiated previously so that all things can finally be restored to the pristine condition of pure love as creation was originally.
You Can Only Receive What is Offered
For, "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in him whom they have not heard? How will they hear without a preacher? And how will they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!" But they didn't all listen to the glad news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:13-17)
John answered, "A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven. (John 3:27)
Because we are designed to reflect God, not be God, we need to be more aware of what we are to reflect about Him that satisfies our God-given cravings. Our fallen, selfish cravings that we experience result from our distorted and dark views of God and blind us to the truth about Him. We naturally crave love, both to be loved and to give love. Yet sin warps that into lust and exploitation in vain attempts to feel better. We need faith to form bonds of affection and trust, yet we find it hard to trust because we have been exploited so much. We find it hard to trust a God whom we have been led to view as being an abuser, so we interpret many of our hurtful experiences as being instigated by Him.
What is needed is truth, the actual good news that God is not like how we have imagined Him to be or has been rumored to be by so many around us. We need healing truth that has the power to transform our attitudes of hostility to that of trust and openness with our God who is the only source of life, love, faith and everything else we need to thrive and function as a normal human being. Of course, God can only offer these things to us, for true love cannot take root and be reflected from our hearts without complete freedom to choose to accept or reject Him without threat of retaliation.
(1 Corinthians 4:7) Jesus makes it clear that everything we need for life, life as humans were originally designed to enjoy it, has to come from heaven, the only source of all life. Sin however leads us to believe that what we actually receive from God is no different than what we could work up ourselves apart from Him. This leads us into pride, deeper selfishness and even distorting and abusing the gifts God gives to us.
For who makes you different? And what do you have that you didn't receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
Receive the Good News
Jesus came to this world to bring to clear view the really good news about God, not just to humans but to the entire watching universe who needed more evidence to fully settle their confidence in His ways. The entire war between good and evil involving the entire universe centers around questions raised in the minds of all intelligent beings everywhere about whether God's methods of governing, entirely based on love alone, can be effective enough to defeat the powerful forces that rely on evil and fear. Doubts like these still fuel evil and keep distrust alive on earth, and until they are conclusively settled it will be impossible for God to govern the entire universe the way He wants it.
This in no way suggests that God has discarded His principle of governing by love alone, or that He has temporarily adopted other methods to use until evil is dispensed with. This is only another subtle lie of the enemy leading many to presume that God had to change His ways to deal with the emergence of evil. But God never changes, and it is because of this that people who embrace evil are given mercy and continued life in spite of their rebellion (Malachi 3:6). Yet this lie pervades our thinking and is one of the reasons God has had to allow things to go on so long. Until everyone sees the truth that God is in no way like His enemies have charged Him to be, He does not receive the authority He needs to govern every heart through love. This is a great mystery that confuses many and fuels doubts about God, yet this truth is a most important one that must be resolved before evil can at last be fully eradicated.
Since the kingdom of God uses only love and complete respect for the freedom of every created being to choose for themselves without threat or coercion, God continues to sustain evildoers so that the full consequences of evil and its self-destructive nature can be fully exposed. He does this, not by pointing out evil and attacking it but rather by contrasting and exposing it with the light of truth. Then in respect for the freedom each of us are given (a freedom vitally essential to the very ability for love to exist), God leaves it up to us as to whether we will receive life, love and truth or whether we will knowingly embrace the system of lies even after we come to see they are false. In other words, no one will be saved through compulsion, but neither will anyone be lost because of ignorance. Everything is freely provided to each person that is necessary to make their choice. Then it is left up to each one to make that choice and to act on it by receiving what is offered from God through Jesus Christ.
(John 5:6; 6:19-21) God does not force Himself on anyone, He only makes Himself available while respecting our decision to accept or reject Him. Even when it appears obvious that we would be expected to want what He has to offer, He makes it a point to not impose Himself but simply make it clear that it is us who has the final decision.
(Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5; 10:8-11) Likewise, when Jesus sends His messengers/representatives out to spread the good news about God to others, their choices about how to react to it, to receive or reject it, must be respected just as ours has been by God.
(Matthew 19:4-6, 9-12; Mark 10:17-25; John 6:66-67) There were times during Jesus' ministry where it became very painful for Him to watch people refuse to receive the generous offer of abundant life He was offering to everyone. There were also times when He said things describing principles of reality that were so offensive to people who preferred their own selfish beliefs that many turned away from following Him.
(2 Corinthians 8:3-4; Galatians 1:11-12; Hebrews 4:16) The good news about God is that He rules using only the principles of love. This is something no one would every dream up. It goes far beyond what we think is even reasonable, yet it is so powerful that when we receive it and let go of our reservations and distrust, our hearts and lives are transformed spontaneously. Yes, there will often be times when our old habits of negative thinking reassert themselves and we find ourselves compelled to fight the fight of faith. But this fight is not a defensive one to protect selfish interests but rather to defend the reality of our true identity in Christ. So we receive the grace and love and truth from all the channels God uses to provide them for us. And we give the glory to the origin of all these vindicating God's reputation, the very issue that must be resolved to bring final closure to this war.
(James 1:21) To receive means to humble ourselves and allow God's view to always trump ours about everything. Humility is one of the most important things for any true believer and is what Jesus demonstrated most clearly about God's attitude. To receive the truth as it is in Jesus means to humble ourselves and accept God's version of reality in place of how we are used to thinking about everything.
Receive the Holy Spirit
To receive both the Good News as well as to receive and become a part of the Kingdom, we must choose to receive the Holy Spirit that is the interpreter, messenger, conveyer, administrator and instructor sent to facilitate everything God has in mind for His children. Without the presence and activity of the Spirit at work in our heart and mind it is impossible to participate in God's plan to salvage and restore us to glowing reflectors of His glory.
(John 14:16-17; 7:38-39) Jesus says that those aligned with the thinking of the world cannot receive this Spirit, for it is foreign to such and they cannot perceive or even know Him. But to those who allow Him access to their hearts He comes to be a permanent companion forever as He dwells inside, activating the unique identity that Christ has formed in each human being. From deep inside such a person this divine Spirit produces a spring of life that affects others to want to enjoy the same healing experience.
(Acts 8:14-19; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 11:4) The gift of the Holy Spirit is not something humans can manipulate like magic. No person is ever in charge of the Holy Spirit at any time; the Holy Spirit is to be in charge of those who choose to receive it into their heart. This is why a person clinging to the sinful condition of unbelief and fear cannot receive that Spirit, for what it reveals about God is rejected by such ones in favor of a different spirit, a spirit of antichrist, a spirit of unbelief in the true goodness of God.
(Romans 8:15; Galatians 3:2, 13-14) The Spirit that mentors us on Jesus' behalf is the Spirit of love, for God is love and love only. His Spirit does not seek to produce fear in our hearts but assures us that God views us as His loved children, that we are accepted in Christ because all humans now have Christ defining what human means, and He is our human representative in heaven. Just as Jesus the human was an adopted son by His human father Joseph, we also are adopted children of God in Christ to His literal Father. Thus the Spirit of God we are to receive does not come into us through our trying hard to keep God's rules (that is foreign to His Spirit and He will not confirm us in that heresy by pouring out His Spirit on us), but because we choose to believe and trust that what God says about us is true no matter what our feelings might try to tell us. We choose to live in and embrace the blessing of God (to bless means to speak highly of, something God does to all of us based on our; true identity in His Son).
When he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit! (John 20:22)
Why did not the disciples receive the Holy Spirit right then? Why was it not until much later at Pentecost that they finally became filled with the power of His Spirit? Possibly for the same reason that we still fail to receive His Spirit.
(Acts 2:38) One reason I can think of is that these disciples simply failed to take Jesus seriously, so they failed to receive His gift immediately. Jesus longed for them, as well as for us, to receive the gift of the Spirit that He promised and is available to all who will change their mind about God because of what Jesus has revealed about Him (that means repent). When one is baptized, it is not some act of washing dirt off our bodies, but rather is a symbol of dying to our presumptions and misconceptions about God. Then we are raised to new life in Christ now believing that God is just like what Jesus demonstrated Him to be in every respect. As we come to embrace the reality that God is not holding our sins against us like the great accuser does, we come into a position to receive the Holy Spirit, that powerful agency of the godhead providing us boldness to share the same good news with others that Jesus has brought to us that transforms and heals us.
It is becoming clear to me that our ability and choice to receive from God is a vital component of our salvation. It is not enough to just ask for things from God, for there are many things that are standing offers waiting to be received. The truth may be that millions could be asking but not receiving only because they don't choose to receive. This leads them to feel resentful toward God, assuming He is stingy or unwilling to provide for His children when the truth is the problem is all in our perceptions.
You ask, and don't receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures. (James 4:3)
Why is it that so many people pray, beg or plead for the power of the Holy Ghost and yet fail to experience it the way they desire to have it? Did not Jesus offer this gift freely to all? Or is there possibly something missing that needs to happen on our part before God sees it is safe to trust us with that much power? Would it really serve our best interest and that of His kingdom to entrust us with enormous power while our motives are still self-focused rather than wanting to advance His kingdom of love? How can God be glorified if we are abusing His power to further our own interests instead of presenting His selfless character in loving service to bless others?
To align ourselves to be ready to receive God's limitless gifts and blessings in our lives, it is not just enough to want them or ask for them as important as that may be. God will provide the power of His Spirit only to those who allow Him to align their hearts in sympathy with the passion of Jesus' heart, the passion to vindicate God's reputation, to expose and reverse slander circulating about Him and be willing to be used to bring glory and honor to God rather than focusing on self-interest. What aligns ourselves with God's interests is to receive the mind of Christ, that disposition of complete humility that caused Him to defer everything all His life to the direction and instructions of His Father.
The mind of Christ Jesus was consumed with a passion to glorify His Father in everything He said and did, in every relationship and situation he encountered throughout the entire time He lived as a human on this earth. All those who choose to follow Him are to emulate His example if they want to truly be His disciples and participate in His kingdom.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus... (Philippians 2:5 NRSV)
The key word in this passage is let. This is what is involved in the concept of choosing to receive it. The following verses describe this attitude that defined the thoughts, actions and disposition of Jesus that will also bring us into alignment and sympathy with that same passion to vindicate God's reputation. As our passion is aroused to save God's reputation like Jesus worked tirelessly to do, we may receive God's gift for the purpose of glorifying Him above satisfying our own desires. Then we can be trusted with more power and gifts and privileges as we cooperate to restore God's kingdom in this world and bring the universe into full intimacy with God in the end. We can participate in the salvation of God's reputation by receiving His gifts, His mind, His instructions and using all these to increase the light that exposes everything still hiding in the darkness of fear and lies about God.