Summary: All Christians have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. Paul’s question here is not referring to that. His question concerns whether or not the believers had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. This experience is subsequent to salvation.
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
Ridgeway Assembly of God
Pastor Greg Tabor
Turn to Acts 19. Read verses 1-7.
Who were these men?
“Paul…at Ephesus. There he found some disciples…There were about twelve men in all.” Acts 19:1, 7 NIV
While some hold to the possibility that these men were merely disciples of John (even though it doesn’t say “disciples of John”), there’s a strong case that they were Christians. Yes, they had a limited understanding of things as verse 2 and 3 reveal concerning the Spirit and Baptism, but it seems obvious to me that they were Christians based on Paul’s statement in verse 2, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
What happened to them?
After they were baptized we read this:
“When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.” Acts 19:6 NIV
The same thing that happened on the day of Pentecost years early happened to these 12 men in Ephesus.
The question Paul asked these 12 men is the question this morning that I want to ask this congregation: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
Christian, have you sought earnestly for and been filled with the Spirit? If not, why not?
Reasons for not seeking the Baptism and reasons you ought to
Let me offer some possible reasons why many in this congregation have not sought the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and respond to these by offering reasons why you should.
· First of all, perhaps our lack of emphasizing the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is leading to an increasingly more and more unpentecostal church as time goes on. Like all the other major doctrines of the church, if this one is not emphasized it will decrease. Make no mistake about it, if we are gonna be pentecostal it will not be because of our musical styles, our enthusiasm, or the name on our sign, it will be because we adhere to and live out the Spirit-filled life and it is evident in our church services.
· Secondly, there is no statement in the Bible telling us to be Baptized in the Spirit with the initial physical evidence of speaking in tongues. Anthony Palma writes, “Induction, however, is a legitimate form of logic. It is the forming of a general conclusion from the study of particular incidents or statements. How else can one justify the doctrine of the Trinity or the hypostatic union – that Christ is both fully human and fully God, yet one person? The New Testament has no propositional statement about either of these doctrines” (Palma, Anthony. The Holy Spirit: A Pentecostal Perspective. Springfield, Missouri: Gospel Publishing House. © 2001. p.95). As we look through the book of Acts we find several occasions where folks were filled with the Spirit after conversion and either it specifically states it or it is alluded to that they spoke in tongues.
· Thirdly, perhaps you can point to well-known ministers and ministries that are powerful yet do not adhere to our beliefs concerning the subsequent experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Look, if someone’s got a powerful prayer life, they fast often, they are deep in the Word, then they are going to have a powerful life, period. However, that’s not the issue here. The issue is not whether you can have a powerful life without the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, the issue is how much more powerful could your life be with it. I want to show you statistically the dramatic difference it has made in our movement. Read from Gordon Anderson’s article in the Winter 2005 Enrichment Journal, p. 76, where it lists the numerical growth difference between Pentecostals and other evangelicals.
· Fourthly, perhaps you’re not convinced that speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, so you shy away from it. Let’s look at the proof:
The Pentecostal outpouring:
Acts 2:4 NIV says, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
Acts 2:11b NIV says, “we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
The Samaritan outpouring:
Acts 8:17-18a NIV “Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given…”
While we have no specific mention of tongues it is obvious that Simon saw something that was evidence enough of someone being filled with the Spirit that he wanted to buy the ability to fill people himself. We can be sure this is tongues, because we know that tongues was the evidence in other instances.