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.“ Acts 19:1-2 (ESV)
Those familiar with the Scriptures know there was nothing wrong with the response of the disciples at Ephesus … they had only experienced the baptism of John, not the baptism of Christ Jesus.
Unfortunately, I believe that many modern day Christians confronted with that same question would echo the answer of the Ephesian disciples.
Note these words of the 19th century preacher Andrew Murray, “There are disciples of Christ who know little or nothing of the conscious indwelling of the Holy Spirit.”
Let’s take a moment to consider the night time visit of Nicodemus with Jesus …
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” John 3:3-4 (ESV)
If we’re honest, most of us get a real chuckle out of the response of Nicodemus. But …
How clearly can I … how clearly can you … explain being born-again and the role of the Holy Spirit in that rebirth?
Take a moment to read and consider the explanation Jesus offers …
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.“ John 3:5-8 (ESV)
I don’t know about you but I find the last two sentences of that passage frightening … which probably explains why so little teaching focuses in on them … and what it means to the believer. Remember … these words are in red … they are the words of Jesus.
Immediately, these words echo in my mind. “I believe. Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
More words of wisdom from Andrew Murray … “For a healthy Christian life, it is indispensable that we know that we have received the Holy Spirit and that He dwells in us.”
Please note how clearly Peter handles that assignment …
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Acts 2:37-39 (ESV)
Reread that passage and consider just how much meat Peter is serving up …
- You don’t come to the Lord God unless He calls you to Himself
- Those called will receive His promise … while not spelled out, my assumption would be salvation and eternal life
- Our conviction should prompt action
- Repent … turn from sin … turn to Jesus
- Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
- Receive the forgiveness of your sins
- Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
A pretty productive 55 words, wouldn’t you say?
“The supreme need of a believer’s life is to receive the Holy Spirit, and when we have Him, to be conscious of the fact and live in harmony with Him.” The Fullness of the Spirit by Andrew Murray
Yep, sounds right to me …