Acts 19:1 It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. 2 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.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “ Into John’s baptism.” 4 Paul said, “ John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. (NASB)
I am quite convinced that the church has missed God’s plan and His will. It is His will that we be filled with the Holy Spirit (see all of Paul’s letters!!!). Throughout the Book of Acts, that’s a moment-in-time event, not a gradual process. We go to Calvary, put our sin nature (our natural rebellion against God) on the cross, and it is crucified. From that point on, we no longer live, but Christ lives in us, and the life we live is lived by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself up for us (see Galatians 2:20).
There is, of course, growth after that moment in time. We go from image to image and glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). But FIRST, there must be that event, that moment in time. And in that moment, we lose our lives and gain Christ’s. THEN we become His witnesses.
In the scripture above, Paul wasted no time at all after finding out that the Ephesian disciples had only experienced water baptism and not the baptism of the Holy Spirit (that is, being filled with Him in a moment in time). He considered it to be so essential that he immediately baptized them in the name of the Lord Jesus, laid hands on them, and they experienced a moment in time! A great time! A glorious time!
I was talking with Jeff this morning, and he reminded me of the account of Saul (whose Roman name was Paul) on the road to Damascus in Acts 9. He had an open view of Jesus, and His audible voice. What an experience! Yet he was not yet filled with the Spirit. He obeyed Jesus’ command to go to Damascus and wait. He was humbled, fasting and praying. Then the Lord commanded humble Ananias to go to him at Straight Street:
So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “ Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:17)
Then Paul had a moment-in-time experience. All who are filled with the Spirit press on toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. There’s no stopping us, because God’s actual love, poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, compels us to tell others AND to give God full rein and reign in our hearts.
I tell you, until we have had the moment-in-time, our growth in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ is slow at best. We’re still rebellious at heart. But after that moment-in-time experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit, we are putty in the hands of our Great Potter. May there be a resurgence and obedience to this glorious truth which has been all but lost in today’s church.