Sunday, September 28th, 2008 | Author:


[Note: This is a message I shared at my church on 9/28/08.]

Let us pray. In the name of Jesus Christ, our glorious Lord and Savior, I pray that this day, Father, in this very place, You will open our spiritual ears, that while Your spiritual blessings may appear foolish to our natural man, they will be recognized and received by our spiritual man, and we may be filled up to overflowing with your Holy Spirit, and become that city on a hill, that Your light may shine before all men. Amen.

Act 19:1-10 It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, 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?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 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.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men. And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.

I am constantly amazed that what seems to be a simple, historical account of who-did-what and who-went-where, actually contains nuggets of God’s truth that we can apply to our lives, and this passage is no exception.

The reason I’ve used this passage today is because there are some who teach that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a once-in-the-world occurrence at the first Pentecost. As Jayme has testified recently, over and over again, I don’t believe that’s the case, and I don’t believe scripture supports that view.

From what I could find in various commentaries, everyone seems to agree that these events in Ephesus happened at the beginning of Paul’s third missionary journey, roughly twenty years after the resurrection of Jesus. So the first thing we see from this passage is that the Holy Spirit was still baptizing, and people were still speaking in tongues and prophesying, twenty years after Pentecost.

In addition, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, giving instructions about using the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including speaking in tongues. Would he give instructions about something that no longer happened?

And Jesus Himself said this in the Gospel of Mark 16:17: “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;”

So scripture tells us that speaking in tongues is a Christian practice.

There’s another common teaching that says that the baptism of the Holy Spirit happens at regeneration, when we receive Christ into our lives. The Holy Spirit does come into our lives at that time, no doubt about it, but scripture shows us that there are two separate events involving the Holy Spirit.

When Paul arrived in Ephesus, our passage tells us that he found disciples. In writing this passage, Luke called these people disciples. Paul knew that they were believers, asking them if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed. But when Paul laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. Salvation and the baptism by the Holy Spirit are two separate events in the life of a Christian.

Another example of this is found in the apostles themselves. After His resurrection, Jesus met with them and said this in John 20:21-22: “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

And yet later, His very last words to them before He ascended were these found in Acts 1:8: 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.

So Jesus breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit, and then at Pentecost they received the power of the Holy Spirit. Again, two separate events.

My own experiences back this up. When I was born again, I literally felt a warmth settling on my head and shoulders, like a gossamer-thin blanket. I had never heard that such a thing could happen, but that didn’t stop the Holy Spirit. When I was baptized in the Spirit a few months later, I began to speak in tongues. I devoured the Bible every chance I had, because suddenly it all made sense. And, yes, at various times I have had dreams and visions from God, I have laid hands on people and seen them healed, and I have prophesied. Two definitely different events in my Christian life.

So why am I harping on all this? Because I believe that our world here in America is changing, rapidly and drastically. Just reading a headline or two about the wars we are fighting, the civil liberties that are being violated, and the mess that our financial system is in, tells us that life as we know it is not going to continue.

We are not going to be able to rely on our current knowledge and understanding to get us through the changes to come. What worked yesterday, may not work tomorrow. We are not going to be able to rely on the government to get us through. God is clearly revealing that they don’t know any better than the rest of us.

The only thing we can rely on with full assurance is God Almighty, and I believe He is trying to prepare us for what’s to come. He wants to fill us with the power of His Holy Spirit, so we will be able to stand in the trials we will face. He wants to fill us, so we can help others who don’t know Him at all. He wants to fill us, so we can be healed in body, soul and spirit, so we can know Him and worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

With all that in my heart, we’re going to do something different today. After we sing our last song and after the benediction, we’re going to put some worship music on, and we’re going to invite you to come forward to the altar. You’re welcome to leave then if you need to, or you can just sit and worship, but if you feel lead, we will lay hands on you as Paul did in Ephesus, and pray that you receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If your heart or body is troubled, we will lay hands on you and pray that God sends healing. If you just want to know God better and receive a spiritual blessing, or for any other reason at all, we will pray with you.

Hebrews 6:1 tells us that the laying on of hands is one of the elementary teachings about the Christ. I think it’s time that we take advantage of God’s method for us to help one another.

Throughout scripture, the oil of anointing is used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. I’m going to end today with a related parable from our Lord, found in Matthew 25:1-13:

Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

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Benediction: We pray for you always that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power; in order that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.1

1 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

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5 Responses
  1. Mrs. Mecomber says:

    WHAT a wonderful sermon. Thank you so much for posting that. As I read, right before you quoted that last scripture of Jesus’ parable, the Holy Ghost reminded me of that very same thing. Isn’t He just like that!

    Thanks again for sharing. With God’s help, I will apply this wisdom to my life.

  2. akaGaGa says:

    Thanks, Mrs. M., and there is no doubt that He is just like that!

    I talked to a dear friend this afternoon, who doesn’t attend our church. Before I mentioned my sermon, she told me that last night God kept waking her up, and reminding her of that “parable about the lamps that had oil and didn’t have oil.” So, of course, she went to read it, first thing when she got up this morning.

    God is so gracious to confirm His words to us.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Still gigglin’ …God is SO gracious to give us everything we need…especially the Spirit! WoW!

  4. akaGaGa says:

    hmmm … maybe I should have warned you, “anonymous.” A week ago Saturday night, I had taken the dog out for the last time and I was sitting on the porch about 10 pm. All of a sudden, and for no reason that I could discern, The Spirit descended on me. I was afraid that somebody might be walking by the house in the dark, cause for sure they would have called the cops. I was laughing like a fool and thanking God at the top of my lungs. :)

    I’m so glad He’s filling you. I’ll be delighted to hear the details … when you can talk again.

  5. jvelez says:

    You filled me today. It was a blessing to pray with you and those who came forward. To be honest, I was alittle bit nervous. Though I’ve seen Him do it time and time again, I still can’t imagine that God, our creator, the one and only all powerful Lord, would use me in those ways. But as always, I gave myself up to Him and was blessed. He’s good and faithful and his power is so indescribable!