The Holy Spirit is a Person

When we rely on organization we get what organization can do. When we rely upon education, we get what education can do. When we rely on eloquence, we get what eloquence can do. But when we rely on the Holy Spirit, we get what God can do. (George Sweeting, Who Said That, p. 236). … More

Holy Spirit

Just as the last few verses of chapter 18 stressed a time of preparation, the first 20 verses of chapter 19 stress the need for proclamation. Paul arrived in Ephesus. Ephesus was one of the greatest commercial centers of that time, as it was located on the main trade route between Rome and the east. It was also the center of Satan worship, and the place where the temple of Diana stood. This temple has been described as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

When Paul arrived in Ephesus on his third missionary journey he entered into a conversation with a dozen men to find out just where they stood in relation to the Gospel. These men were evidently Jews who lived in Ephesus, and had gone to Jerusalem for the feast days many years before. They had met John the Baptist and had been baptized by him, but from all indications the news had never reached them that Jesus the Messiah had come, had lived, and died, and risen again. When Paul asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed, they replied: “We have never heard of the Holy Spirit” (v. 2). Paul then explained how it is impossible to be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ without having received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1. Cor. 12:13). He went on to explain to them that they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus and received the Spirit (vv. 4-5).

There is a popular, but false, teaching today, that believers must ask God to give them the Holy Spirit.  However the gift of the Spirit is one of the benefits bestowed upon a believer at the moment of conversion. “If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). It is wrong to ask God to give us something He has already given to us. It is also wrong to ask God to give me more of His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a Person, and we cannot receive Him by installments. In verse 6 we find these new believers “speaking in tongues.” Tongues-speaking was a gift of God, that enabled the participants to speak in a known language which they did not know, not some gibberish or unknown language.

Application

I wonder how may times I have been hampered in my spiritual life by inadequate teaching? The only sure way to know that I am being taught correctly is to search the Scriptures myself.

Acts 19:1-7 (English Standard Version)

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.

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