Day 110: Repentance and Belief in Christ

Acts 19:1-8 :

It happened that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper country, came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They said to him, “No, we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

He said, “Into what then were you baptized?”

They said, “Into John’s baptism.”

Paul said, “John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.”

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with other languages and prophesied. They were about twelve men in all. He entered into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for a period of three months, reasoning and persuading about the things concerning the Kingdom of God.

This passage is an example of how Christianity is dependent on the presence the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit’s presence is dependent upon hearing about and believing in Jesus. Now we know from the previous section that these people had heard about Jesus from Apollos, but even Apollos, at the time, was unaware of the true way of God. He knew that John the Baptist had preached repentance of sins and pointed the way to Jesus, but he must not have known that the true reason for Jesus’ coming and suffering was so that mankind would believe on Him and be saved!

What an amazing day it must have been in Ephesus when they learned from Paul that God was able to save them from their sins by just believing and not only that, He had freely given the Holy Spirit with power! John the Baptist’s message of sin and repentance was like pouring gasoline on a large pile of sticks and Paul’s message was like a single match which burst the pile of sticks into a roaring fire! The Law and Grace work hand-in-hand to bring us to the way of God.

Notice that Paul knew to question them about the presence of the Holy Spirit. This is a good question to ask when you find a group of those who claim to believe in God. Is the Holy Spirit with them? If not, the next question should be about how they came to be “believers.” Exactly what do they believe in? If they believe in anything other than Jesus Christ and His salvation from sin into abundant life in Christ, then they can’t have the Holy Spirit yet.

We should not use a passage like this to say that God means for all people who have the Holy Spirit to speak in other languages. Paul explains this issue in more detail in 1 Corinthians. We need to be careful because Satan can tempt our minds into making up theology because we lack understanding of God’s word. May God help us to stay focused on what is written by the power of His Holy Spirit.