The promise of the Holy Spirit is no less a promise today than it was on the day of Pentecost. God's Word tells us clearly that His promises do not change. Peter said, "The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Paul states, "For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him amen, unto the glory of God by us." God has not withdrawn His promise of the Holy Spirit, but He can be received only by faith. Paul says "that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:14).
Luke records, "And God, which knoweth the hearts, bore them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us." Some may say that God is not giving us a witness today, but we must say that He is doing the same thing today that He did at the beginning. The witness of God is the same thing as the sealing spoken of by Paul. To the Ephesians he said, "...Christ: in whom ye also have trusted, having heard the word of truth, the glad tidings of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, ye have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest of our inheritance to the redemption of the acquired possession to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:13,14). In II Corinthians 1:22, "Who [God] hath also sealed us, and given us the earnest (guarantee or pledge) of the Spirit in our hearts."
Has God's plan or His purpose changed because we live in this modern day and age? Of course not! God is still building His church. He is still calling out a people to be called by His name. If you are to partake of the life of God and be made a part of the body of Christ, the church, you must receive the Holy Spirit. (See I Corinthians 12:13.) "We are being builded together in Christ for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22).
Every event and promise that is a part of God's plan of redemption is a "must" for us, that we might fulfill all righteousness. Jesus, speaking about His baptism by John the Baptist, said, "Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15). The baptism in the Holy Ghost is not an experience we can take or leave; it is God's plan for everyone who obeys Him.
Even John the Baptist knew about the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Matthew 3:11 tells us that John proclaimed, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire."
Many today are told that they received the Holy Spirit automatically when they accepted the work of Christ as He died on the cross for the sins of the world. This mental acceptance is termed salvation. But if mental acceptance alone were salvation, then the receiving of the Holy Spirit, automatically or not, would have neither purpose nor meaning. Let us not confuse the work of the Holy Ghost with the person of the Holy Ghost, and His indwelling.
You must decide whom you are going to believe: those who tell you that you received the Holy Ghost when you believed in Christ, or the Scriptures which give us two examples of believers who believed that Christ was the Son of God, were baptized, and then received the Holy Ghost.
Let us look at these two examples. The first is the account of those in Samaria, who received the Word of God and were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus through the ministry of Philip. Acts 8:14-17, "Then 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 they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."
The second example is of the disciples at Ephesus. Paul said to them, "'Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?' And they said unto him, 'We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.' And he said unto them, 'Unto what then were ye baptized?' And they said, 'Unto John's baptism.' Then said Paul, 'John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should 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 his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came upon them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied" (Acts 19:2-6).