Summary: The Holy Spirit is God’s active and sanctifying presence in believers today.
First Things First #4
“The Holy Spirit is Alive & Well” Acts 18:27 – 19:7
Have you ever been shocked to learn something… something that you should have known all along and you wished somebody had told you sooner?
• The story in Acts 18 & 19 has always been an interesting one to me. Here we have this fellow Apollos who is a Jew and described as a “learned man with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.” (18:24-ff) He has been taught about Jesus and in turn with great fervor is out in his neighborhood spreading the good news… teaching “about Jesus accurately.” But there was something deficient in his understanding of baptism. He knew only the baptism of John. So, when Aquila and Priscilla encounter him, they invite him over and explain the way of God “more adequately.”
• So, its not surprise when Paul gets to Ephesus (where Apollos had been) that he encounters a number of “disciples” who are similarly deficient.
o “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you came to faith?” he asks. “No, we’ve never even heard that there IS a Holy Spirit.”
o So, Paul questions them and finds out that they, too, knew only the baptism of John. When he baptizes them into Christ, then the Holy Spirit came upon them.
• What is interesting to me here is that these were “disciples” of Jesus Christ, but were missing out on one of the most important and fundamental elements of Christianity… the Holy Spirit.
We’re continuing our series “First Things First” this morning looking at the fundamentals, the basics of our faith. So far, we’ve observed…
#1 There is a God
#2 He is a loving Father
#3 Jesus is His Son
And #4 this morning, I want us to look at the Holy Spirit.
Admittedly, our situation is quite different today. Most of us have been baptized into Christ, but I wonder if many of us don’t share something in common with these Ephesian disciples.
• I wonder if there might be some among us who are also missing out on the Holy Spirit… not that we don’t KNOW about the Holy Spirit… but we just aren’t quite sure what role he plays in the everyday life of an ordinary Christian.
• What role has the Holy Spirit played in your life? How much attention to him have you given?
• I wonder if we have ignored or neglected the Spirit in our practice of Christianity….
o For example, how many sermons on the Holy Spirit have you heard? How many books have you read? I have a wonderful little book in my office, “Basic Christianity” by a renowned Biblical scholar, John Stott. There’s a chapter on God and on Jesus; on our obligation to them. There’s no chapter on the Holy Spirit.
o A few months ago, the Spiritual Sword, a well-known publication in churches of Christ, put out an issue on the basics of Christianity… but, again, no mention of the Holy Spirit.
o I have a friend that I was talking with just the other day about this subject. He described growing up in a small, rural, very traditional church of Christ in southern Alabama during the 50’s & 60’s and he said half-way jokingly, “The Holy Spirit didn’t exist until I went to college.”
o Of course what he meant was that they just never talked about it. It wasn’t until he started reading for himself and studying that he began to get an awareness of what the Holy Spirit was all about. Maybe some of you can relate to that feeling.
Why have we ignored it… or at least neglected it?
• I have some theories… one of which is that we’re simply afraid of what we don’t understand. Another, we know we don’t want to fall into the same error that we believe many of our Pentecostal friends have bought in to. Or we see what some religious people are doing and claiming in the name of the Holy Spirit that doesn’t match up with Scripture… and so we have tended to steer away from the subject entirely.
• But, folks… the Holy Spirit is fundamental to our faith! We cannot ignore it and claim to be a Christian!
• Did you realize that the Holy Spirit is on almost every page of the Bible! My computer found 246 explicit references to the Spirit in the New Testament ALONE! That doesn’t even include however many more indirect references there may be!
There is no doubt: Holy Spirit is fundamental to our faith!
• There are a lot of things I DON’T know about the Holy Spirit… in fact you could probably fill the oceans full with things I don’t understand about God... I think there are some things we CAN know.