In his epistle to the Corinthians Paul wrote: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant.” (1 Corinthians 12:1) While these believers may have been ignorant of the proper use of “spiritual gifts” they were at least aware of them. They also understood the source of these gifts as the Holy Spirit. Such was not the case with the Ephesian believers. They had never even heard of the Holy Spirit. Acts 19 records that moment they were formerly introduced.
Holy Spirit Come!
“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” (Acts 19:1-4)
These Ephesians were bona fide, born again believers. They had been led to The Lord and discipled by the great preacher Apollos. They had publicly professed their faith through water baptism. However, they had not yet been baptized in the Spirit. It wasn’t even on their radar.
Many Christians today find themselves in similar shoes. They are sincere believers – faithful but not filled. The idea of being baptized in the Spirit is quite foreign to them. Or they were told only ‘kooky Christians’ go for that sort of thing.
There are also differing thoughts about when baptism of the Spirit occurs. Some say it happens instantly upon belief. Others insist you must first be submerged in H2o. I can say for certain I was no way near Spirit filled when I became a believer, and getting dunked didn’t help any. Though I was convinced the gospel was true, I was more full of the flesh than I was the Spirit. Once I did receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that dynamic was reversed. For this reason, I continue to pray for His filling regularly.
It is true that we are sealed with the Spirit upon belief. But sealing is not the same as filling. Sealing is God’s way of claiming us as His for all eternity. Filling (or baptism) speaks of immersion. Think in terms of regular water. Drinking it and being dunked in it are two different experiences. This is also true of The Living Water.
Prior to crucifixion Jesus told the disciples, “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17) There is no mention of baptism as of yet. However, Jesus did assure the disciples that the Spirit was ‘with’ them and would soon be ‘in’ them. This was fulfilled soon after the resurrection. “He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22)
Though the Spirit was now in them, Jesus declared there was more to come. “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) This “upon” experience was fulfilled on Pentecost. (See Acts 2)
These three experiences (the with, in and upon) are essential to our understanding of the Holy Spirit. In coming to Christ the Holy Spirit was with us, convicting us of sin and convincing us of our need for a Savior. He is ‘in’ us the moment we believe, serving as a sure guaranty of our redemption. Finally there is the ‘upon’ or baptism of the Spirit. Stop and think for a moment. Can you honestly say you are filled to overflowing? Do you feel endued with power from on high? Perhaps you’re feeling powerless. Maybe there’s a stronghold in your life you can’t seem to kick. Could it be you lack power from on high?
The Book of Acts is all about what happens when ordinary, flawed people are empowered by God’s Spirit. These weren’t spiritual giants. They were flakey weaklings like you and me. But once baptized in the Spirit, these “heroes of the faith” were radically changed in powerful ways.
Every believer has access to this same power. It all comes down to this – you gotta want it! If this is your desire, you’re a perfect candidate for the baptism of the Spirit. All you have to do is ask and be yielded.
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Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
1601 Pecan St., Pflugerville, TX 78660