I have been preaching through Acts for a long time. I don’t know what that means to you, I hope you have learned a lot, but if you simply learn that really is not good enough. I really, mostly hope that the Word of God is transforming your life.
Dr. David Palmer shared with a group how he grew up in a non Christian home. At a certain age he was given a Gideon Bible and eventually became a Christian. A few years later he was in college when his room mate staggered into the dorm room. At that time he remembers reading the Bible underneath his covers by flashlight. He thought, “What is it about this book that makes me so eager to read it?” Dr. palmer continued: “Part of the new birth is a spirit born appetite for the Word of God.”
As I was writing that paragraph I started thinking about my own spiritual journey. When I was in high school I started a Discipleship class. In that class I was required to study the Bible for one hour once a week. This was an in depth Bible study. At first I thought, that is going to be too much. I was a high school student involved in extra curriculars with a part time job. But I began studying the Bible. By the end of that class I was studying a chapter a week and could not stop studying. I loved it! I was studying the book of Revelation one chapter at a time. There were times in my studies that I have been practically moved to tears studying the Bible. I love it.
Part of that discipleship class involved learning about the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It is that subject that I wish to talk about today. I once heard a message in which one shared about reading through the Bible when he was a non Christian. At that time the Bible did not make sense to him. Just a few weeks later he gave his life to Christ and started reading the Bible again. Now, as a Christian, the Bible made total sense.
What is the difference? The Holy Spirit is the difference.
Let’s read Acts 19:1-7 and talk about people coming to know Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit.
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
4Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
- Context is everything so I would like to talk about the passage itself for a second.
- Verse 1 shows us that Apollos is staying in Corinth and during this time Paul travels through the inland route to Ephesus. Ephesus was a very important city. Later Paul would write the letter to the Ephesians. Actually, 1 and 2 Timothy were written to Timothy who was pastoring the church in Ephesus.
- Now, Paul meets some of John’s disciples. Paul asked them if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed. Now, I believe based off of John’s Gospel chapters 14-17 and Acts 2 and many other passages that we do receive the Holy Spirit when we believe in Christ.
- We will come back to those passages dealing with the Holy Spirit a little later. For now, let me continue to overview the context.
- Now, Paul was struck by something. He knew that these 12 people were not saved. He could tell by something that they were not Christians. One thought is that they did not have the Holy Spirit. Certainly, when he ask them a question their response makes it clear.
- The Bible does call them disciples and this is likely the word “disciples” in a broad sense as followers of someone. They were followers of John the Baptizer.
- They knew nothing about the Holy Spirit.
- How do you know if you have the Holy Spirit?
- When you become a Christian you are baptized with the Holy Spirit. If you have really, truly trusted in the blood of Jesus covering your sins and have committed to make Jesus Lord of your life then you are saved and you have the Holy Spirit.
- Have your desires changed? The Holy Spirit is God living within you. He changes your desires to match God’s. What is the pattern, do you have convictions concerning sin? There are sins of omission and commission. Sins of commission are things that you do, such as stealing. Sins of omission are things that you are not doing that you should do. Do you have convictions as to doing the right thing?
- Do you have convictions to read the Bible?
- Do you have convictions to participate in the church community? I am not only talking about Sunday morning worship, but do you have convictions to be involved in corporate, small group Bible study? Do you have convictions to participate in ministry? The Holy Spirit wants you involved in these things. How do we know? The Bible tells us so.
- Do you have a hunger for the Bible?
- We must be convicted to walk by the Spirit as Galatians 5:16 and the following verses talk about.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: aimmorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, dfactions,
21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.1
- In this passage: These disciples tell Paul that they didn’t know that the Holy Spirit had come upon the people. Actually it says they didn’t know about the Holy Spirit. But what is more likely is they didn’t know that the Spirit had come upon the church. They knew about the Holy Spirit.
- Paul then tells them the Gospel of Jesus and they receive Christ. Paul prays over them and they speak in tongues and prophesy, which in this case is evidence of the Spirit.
- An application is that the Spiritual gifts are important, but just because you have not spoken in tongues does not mean you are not saved. That is what happened in this instance. But don’t discredit the work of the Holy Spirit.
- But let’s talk about who the Holy Spirit is:
- The third person of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit); One God manifested in 3 persons. The Holy Spirit is a person, not merely a force. He is intelligent (1Cor 12:11), has a will (1 Cor 12:11), teaches (John 14:26), can be grieved (Eph. 4:30), and can be insulted (Hebrews 10:29). The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4). See also John 14:16-19, 23. Jesus says He is leaving , yet He will come to the Disciples with the Father. The Son and the Father come into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. The degree of separateness and unity in the Trinity is a mystery. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit share Divinity (One God), yet are distinct in personality.
- One of the Greek words for Holy Spirit is Parakletos. The New International version translates it Counselor. (NASB: Helper, KJV: Comforter. Recommended reading John
- Note the reference to the Holy Spirit. It literally means one called alongside to help.
- As applications: I am just going to mention these and you can think about them. The scriptures are in your bulletin and in your manuscript. Trace these ministries of the Holy Spirit in your life:
- Conviction (John 16:8-11) Verse 8 says when the Holy Spirit comes he will convict the world of its sin.
- Change (John 3:5-8; 2 Cor 5:17-18)
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…
- Assurance (Romans 8:16; 1 John 3:23-24; Eph. 4:29)
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God…
- Indwelling (Romans 8:9)
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
- How do you know you are a Christian? The Holy Spirit is active in your life causing your desires to change.
- It is not overnight but the thirst for Scripture should be there. The thirst to see the lost saved should be there. You ought to be convicted of sin. There needs to be spiritual growth.
- Remember the Apostle Paul could tell these 12 were not Christ followers. This goes back to the Holy Spirit in our life.
- Think about it: You have God dwelling in you.
- The Bible teaches that after Conversion, the Holy Spirit is our:
- Teacher of spiritual truths. (John 14:26; John 16:13; 1Cor 2:14)
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
- Mouthpiece in witnessing to others. (Luke 12:11-12)
When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
- Helper in prayer. (Romans 8:26-27)
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
- Power for victorious living. (Acts 1:8; John 1:12)
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
- Purifier of our hearts. (Acts 15:8-9)
And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.
So, we see some information about the Holy Spirit.
Think about this: Is it not amazing that God saves us?
Is it not amazing that God sets us free from our sin? If God is who He is and He has done what He has done, does anything make sense than to live our lives as living sacrifices, that is Romans 12:1. (David Palmer shared this at Fall 2014 annual gathering) God saved us from His wrath by sending His wrath upon His own Son. He slew Him and poured all of my sin upon His own Son. That is amazing.
But what is more amazing is that was not all Jesus did for us. He died in our place, yes, but then He sent us the Holy Spirit. John 14:16-18 is written about Jesus sending us the helper who is the Holy Spirit.
Are you sensitive to His presence? Maybe today is the day to rededicate your life to Him. Maybe you have realized that your passions are not being conformed to Jesus’? Where are you at in your spiritual life?
How do you answer those question about the Holy Spirit’s ministry in your life? Have a conversation with God about this.
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)
1 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ga 5:16–23). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.