Summary: Paul's first encounter with the twelve disciples. Paul's instruction and laying on of hands.
January 7, 2018
Reading: Acts 19:1-7
From John and Water to Paul and Fire
We read here of Paul’s missionary trip to Ephesus. Without going into a lot of geographical detail, I just want to emphasize the lengths that Paul went to in traveling all over the known world to evangelize the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ephesus is located in Turkey, just inland from the Aegean Sea. The distance from Judea (starting point) to Ephesus is about 615 miles by sea and close to 1200 miles driving distance.
Just think of the dedication that Paul and missionaries of his day had to travel under the primitive conditions of that era.
At Ephesus, Paul encountered twelve disciples. Right off the bat, he asks them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
If I asked you that question, what would your answer be? You see, Paul is referring to the experience of water baptism. Thinking back to your water baptism, was it accompanied by any Holy Spirit experience? Likely not! As we understand the baptism as preached by John the Baptist, it centered on repentance.
“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Romans 8:9
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” Romans 8:16
“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which[a] He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,[b] and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5:9-13
But these twelve guys up and said, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
So, Paul asks a second question, “Into what then were you baptized?”
The answer was of course, John’s baptism – water baptism of repentance and a belief in the coming of Jesus Christ, The Messiah.
Paul lays hands on them and the Holy Spirit came upon them. They spoke with tongues and prophesied.
Most believe that being baptized in water; repenting of sin and declaring faith in Christ Jesus and a dedication to Him means salvation/eternal life thus fulfilling the call to baptism. BUT, lacking the fullness of the Spirit, there is not full conversion. The Christian walk is more than words alone. The converted Christian has received the Holy Spirit who dwells within the hearts of the converted believer.
What is incumbent on mature Christians is evangelizing the truth of the Holy Spirit and the influence of the Holy Spirit in the daily lives of followers of Christ.
Just listen to what Jesus says:
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever”— John 14:16
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” John 15:26
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” John 16:7
Much emphasis has been placed on the speaking of tongues as evidence of being baptized by the Holy Spirit. Tongues is certainly an evidence and perhaps the most visible. However, this old preacher believes that the life you live, being led by the Holy Spirit is indeed evidence of having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
The Apostles’ Creed has within the statement that “I believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.” If we acknowledge the Holy Spirit; pray to the Holy Spirit; seek counsel and guidance of the Holy Spirit and proclaim His indwelling in us and our lives, we are indeed baptized by the Holy Spirit.