Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? (Acts 19:2)
What a wild question. These were the apostle Paul’s opening words upon being introduced to a new group of Jesus followers. It’s a different kind of question.
Think about the questions most 21st century Christians ask when they meet a “disciple” for the first time. What church do you go to? What authors do you read? Are you reformed? Pre-trib? Complementarian? What’s your position on eternal security?
And then we have Paul: Did you receive the Spirit?
Why don’t we talk like that?
I bet he knew something we don’t know. Or forgot. Or ignore.
Might I suggest that the reason he is talking like this in Acts 19 is because of the life-altering experience of Acts 1-18. This was not a theory for Paul. This was not an abstract theology. This was his experience. And right at the center of this soul-morphing Gospel experience was a very intimate relationship with God the Holy Spirit.
I continue to hear various Bible teachers go out of their way to dissuade people from using the book of Acts as any kind of an example for us to follow. There is only one true example, the reasoning goes, and that would be Jesus. There will never be a golden age for the people of God until Jesus returns and makes all things new, so don’t get your hopes up. The argument has a ring of wisdom to it, but it simply does not stand up to the test of Scripture. I cannot believe that the book of Acts is to be read as just another example of the actions of another group of fallen, wretched sinners. To the contrary, it is a case study, perhaps an invitation, to experience what they experienced.
And they experienced the Holy Spirit.
It seems that even mere mortals can live beyond themselves when they are in relationship with God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Does this frighten you?
When you read through Acts there are no guarantees or formulas, because things change from chapter to chapter. But this book is absolutely a snapshot of people becoming “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world.” (2 Peter 1:4) These early disciples were not perfect, but they were fruitful, effective, and different.
I want more different.
And even though most people I talk to would agree, when the rubber meets the road of their faith, they tend to opt out of the Spirit and settle for the natural. Predictable.
I get it. I really do. But I dare you to get hungry enough to go all the way with God.
Are you afraid of the Holy Spirit? Cautious? Hungry? Open? Closed? Confused?
This week we will search the Scriptures, make much of Jesus, and hopefully take a step forward in experiencing the Promise of our Father. Post your questions below, and I will be doing a live Q&A (in person and online) this Wednesday night at 7PM to address all questions related to the doctrine and experience of the Spirit.