Acts 19:1-7 (HCSB)
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” “No,” they told him, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” “Then with what ⌊baptism⌋ were you baptized?” he asked them. “With John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the One who would come after him, that is, in 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 to speak with ⌊other⌋ languages and to prophesy. Now there were about 12 men in all.
I heard a story recently of new Christians in a third world country…the good news of Jesus was still relatively new to them…and all this infant church had was the Bible. Well-meaning Christians in America heard about this and began to send them Christian books by various authors. Before long, this new and innocent church was embroiled in theological debate, controversy, and division.
A sad, but true fact. We believers should be raising our hands in praise, but are instead often raising them in anger and dispute (see 1 Tim. 2:8). And one of the topics we dispute is this one: the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I won’t get into the debate here. To me, as we read in this passage above, it is pretty straightforward. And, with the exception of a few pockets of holdovers, the debate has been over for years.
I will say this by way of personal testimony: I repented and was saved as a young boy – age seven. It was life-changing. When I was a senior in high school, like these Ephesian Christians, I hadn’t heard much of the Holy Spirit. A dear friend introduced me and I was baptized in the Spirit. With the exception of salvation, this was the most life-changing experience I’ve ever had. I’m not sure if I received “more” of the Spirit at that time, or if I simply “gave more of myself” to the Spirit at that time. Really, who cares? I just know it altered my life forever. A few of the immediate results I experienced:
- I received a prayer language which I now use daily
- I began to hear God speak to me
- I experienced joy in the Lord which was new to me
- I began to learn to “rest” in the Lord
- I began to open myself to praise and worship, which have become a lifestyle
- I began to walk in gifts I didn’t know I had
So call it what you will: a second blessing, being filled with the Spirit, personal Pentecost, baptism in the Spirit…of the Spirit…by the Spirit – whatever you choose to call it, all I know is that I am thankful to God for it.
If you’ve been frustrated in your Christian discipleship and growth, this may be the missing element! Ask one of the ministers at the alter on Sunday to pray with you. It would be our honor.