A daily devotion for July 13th
23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.
Paul in Ephesus
19 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.
4 Paul 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.
Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them,Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?Acts 19:1b-2a
When Paul came to Ephesus he found men and women who had been told about Jesus, at least to the extent of the baptism of John. He obviously thought they were Christians when he first met them. But, as he watched them, he observed that something was missing, and I am sure there is puzzlement in his voice when finally he says to them,
Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? This question indicates that the normal Christian pattern is that the Spirit is given immediately upon belief in Jesus Christ. There is no suggestion here that the Spirit of God is given a long period after belief in Christ.
There are many people who believe in Jesus and yet who today do not evidence much sign of the work of the Holy Spirit. There are many churches in our land today where, as I am privileged sometimes to speak in them, I want to say to the people,
Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? There is no sign of it.
The Holy Spirit is given upon belief in the Lord Jesus, but that does not stop with one act of believing. We are to keep on believing in the Lord Jesus and thus to manifest his power and vitality in our lives. It is that continual act of believing which releases the freshness of the Spirit in our lives. Paul says to the Colossians,
As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him... (Colossians 2:6 RSV).
As you received him by an act of believing, keep on believing, walk in him, live in him, so that you might demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit.
So what is wrong if there is no evidence of the working of the Spirit? None of the joy, none of the grace, none of the power? It is because we are not believing in him. We believed in him once, but that believing has ceased. There is now no sense of expectancy, no fresh anticipation of his working in our lives today.
Are there signs of the Spirit of God in your life? Are his presence, his power, his working, the freshness, the vitality, the enthusiasm, the excitement of the Spirit visible in your Christian life? If not, you have ceased believing in Jesus. There must be this expectation of his working, for he makes himself available to us continually, moment by moment, to fulfill every demand life makes upon us, as we expect him to do so. That note of expectancy is the evidence, or the sign, of faith which marks the difference between the sterility, the deadness, and the dullness of religiosity without the Spirit, and the fullness, the freshness, and the vigor and power of a Spirit-filled life. So this question, addressed to these halfway Christians of long ago Ephesus, still has meaning for us today, as we understand the need for a continual act of faith in the Lord Jesus.
Lord Jesus, how frequently I fail to understand the truth of your promise that you have come to live within me. Grant to me anew, Lord, the faith to lay hold of this promise and to make visible in my life.
Life Application: Have we settled for being 'halfway Christians', absent evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit? What is the key to releasing the freshness and vitality of his power in and through us? Is our daily walk characterized by believing in God's Word and in his indwelling presence?
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