Scripture: Acts 19:2 NASB “Baby And Bathwater”
“He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” Acts 19:2
When I was first saved I got confused over the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It took me years to feel sure I understood I wasn’t missing anything. In the book of Acts it appears that people were getting saved and then receiving the Holy Spirit later, after they were saved.
The Apostles believed in Christ and Jesus had even given them the Holy Spirit (possibly temporarily, Jn. 20: 22) before receiving Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2: 4).
A case could be made that Paul was saved and then later received the Spirit when Ananias visited him (Acts 9: 17).
The Samaritans had already heard of Jesus and were seeking out Peter (Acts 10: 19; 38) before Peter came to speak to them. It was after that, while listening to Peter, that they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10: 44).
In our verse today, the believers in Acts 19 hadn’t even heard of the Holy Spirit. They appeared to be believers since they had been baptized by John the Baptist. So it appears they received the Holy Spirit after they were saved, too.
Voila, five examples above that show that believers need to be “baptized by the Spirit” after they’ve already believed. But here is what is really happening. Acts 1: 8 is the outline of the entire book of Acts, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” God is doing a new thing. It is a new era of the church (aka a dispensation, see blog You’re Probably A Dispensationalist). The book of Acts is a book of history and should be understood as history. It is descriptive. It is not prescriptive. It tells us what happened. It doesn’t tell us what should happen. Paul’s writings and the epistles tell us what is normal for the Christian, we receive the Spirit when we are saved (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 12:13; see blogs, Get The Led Out and Hanging Together Or Hanging Separately).
Just because one group of Christians say we receive the Spirit in stages doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t study the work of the Holy Spirit at all. We shouldn’t throw the proverbial baby out with the proverbial bath water.
Are you aware of the work of the Holy Spirit? Is He alive in you? Are you aware of what Scripture tells us about all this?
If you are, you will find that you have chosen life (Deut. 30:19)!
Find a good study guide on the Holy Spirit or use the chain reference in a Thompson Chain Reference Bible to study the work of the Holy Spirit. There is always a section on the Holy Spirit in a good Study Bible like the Ryrie Study Bible, Life Application Bible, or the NIV Study Bible. The Holy Spirit Himself will help you in your study (cf. 1Jn. 2: 20, 27).
Don’t be like the believers in Ephesus who said they had never heard about the Holy Spirit. The Ephesian believers could not have known about the Holy Spirit. But it is the believer’s responsibility in this era to know about the Holy Spirit and His work.
The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: Oh, Shoot!