Although the terminology and even the timing vary between the various Christian traditions and perspectives, a generality is that first someone decides to follow Jesus and then the Holy Spirit is given to guide and direct them.
While each stream of Christian thought assigns different terms to these events and has a diversity of understanding as to the how and why, this is the generally prescribed order.
So how then does this square with John the Baptist being “filled with the Holy Spirit even before he was born?” Things certainly seem out of sequence for him.
True, it would be unwise to rewrite our theology on the basis of one verse that seems to offer an exception to our understanding of the normal order of how things are done.
However, at the least, this verse should give us pause before we adamantly assert there is a specific way and time for one to receive the Holy Spirit.
Apparently, not everyone’s journey to God is exactly the same.
A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.