Holy Spirit

Receive the Holy Spirit

And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all.

And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. Acts 19:1-10.

Paul is not content to preach only at one of the port cities. He goes inland to find people he can tell about Jesus. When he gets to Ephesus, he meets some people who already believe in Jesus! Then he quizzes them about their baptism, and whether they have received the Holy Spirit.

Paul was not only telling people the good news, that the Messiah had come and taken away their sins. He was also imparting a supernatural gift, deputizing them to reach others. This may have had a lot to do with the growth of the first century church.

Our reticence to even talk about the Holy Spirit, let alone receive and bestow this gift may have a lot to do with our atrophied, museum-piece Christianity. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit and His supernatural manifestations are standard equipment for believers in Jesus. And that is where we keep it, pressed between the pages like a long-dead prom corsage. Let us begin to stir up this gift we have been given and resurrect our dead faith!

The Holy Spirit is Not Optional

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” Acts 8:9-24.

Philip had a great thing going on in Samaria. He was preaching the word of God and signs followed as he healed the sick and cast out devils. New believers were being baptized, but one thing was missing. The people were not receiving the Holy Spirit. How can this be? Don’t people who believe in the Lord Jesus automatically receive the Holy Spirit? This CAN happen, as Peter will eventually see for himself in Acts chapter 10. But this was important enough that the Apostles took note that it wasn’t happening, and went to Samaria to remedy the situation.

For too much of the church, it is good enough to be a member; but be satisfied without power. We forget that this power makes expanding the kingdom of God possible. And to be unwilling to expand the kingdom is a violation of the king’s order. It is desertion at least, and treason at worst.

Years later, while Paul travels through Asia minor, he will come to Ephesus and find that there already believers in Jesus there. And what does he ask them?

And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all. (Acts 19:2-7).

Our New Status

“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 go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:7-15.

How could it be to our advantage for Christ to leave? Because He was going to empower us to replace Him. As the Holy Spirit, the Helper, had empowered Him, He would be given to us to multiply Him in the earth. And we would not just be multiplied numerically, but we would be changed to be like Him, and given the same access to the Father.

Jesus was the Body of Christ during His earthly ministry. After He, the seed, died, He would be buried in the ground, only to live again through us. Now we are His body, spreading the seed of God’s word throughout the earth. But we would also be able to demonstrate His power because the Father will do what we ask in Jesus’s name.

So why don’t these things happen today? Actually, they do. No one person is the body of Christ. That describes us collectively, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed. People are healed, delivered from demon possession, and miracles happen around the world. But many parts of the body see nothing because we have been deceived into believing the gifts are withdrawn, or are not for today. But the power of God is asked for and received by those who believe Jesus’s words and receive His gifts. That is why Paul wrote: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:11-14).

It is to our advantage to Christ to leave so the Helper would come and make us into a new manifestation of Christ and His power throughout the world. And He gave us the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers to equip us all to manifest the distributed power of God throughout the Body of Christ, bringing us into unity. This mission has not passed away. It is still as necessary as it ever was.