While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" he asked them.
"No," they replied, "we haven't even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
"Then what baptism did you experience?" he asked.
And they replied, "The baptism of John."
Paul said, "John's baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus."
As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.
— Acts 19:1-7 NLT
To properly center this passage as part of Luke's emphasis on the Holy Spirit's work to bring all nations and peoples into the family of Jesus, please see yesterday's Unstoppable! The key emphasis we need to see is that in Acts 2:38-41, Luke gave us the expected way for people to come to Christ. This kind of response is repeated throughout the book of Acts. New disciples of Jesus —
- believed in Jesus as both Lord and Messiah (faith),
- turned their lives around to live for him (repentance),
- were baptized in water (baptism),
- received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Spirit), and
- were added to the family of Jesus (fellowship).
Jesus promised that the Good News would spread worldwide (Acts 1:8). When the Good News did advance to include different groups of people for the first time, there was a clear, unmistakable manifestation of the Spirit's coming to indicate God's approval (Acts 11:15-18):
- Acts 2 with Jewish people at Pentecost.
- Acts 8 with Samaritans.
- Acts 10 and 11 with Gentiles involving Cornelius and his household.
- Acts 19 with the disciples of John the Baptizer.
In our time when racial and political division, ethnic cleansing, sub-ethnic genocide seem to be persistent scourges of human existence, we must feel the pull of the Spirit for us to be a people like our heavenly Father who loves all people and wants them in his forever family! Remember that Jesus said that our love for each other is a sign to the world that we are his disciples (John 13:34-35).
Let's hold to this promise from Paul to the Corinthians:
The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
Dear Father, forgive us and change us. Forgive me. Forgive your church for not being more passionate about your Kingdom on earth reflecting your heart for all people. We pray, dear Holy Spirit, that you fill us and stir us and help us break down the barriers in our fellowships so that all people experience your love and welcome through us. We ask for this help trusting in the promise that the Holy Spirit will make this happen. In Jesus' powerful and gracious name, I pray. Amen.