“Then Peter and John placed their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:17
As these disciples received the Holy Spirit, Simon the sorcerer “saw” that the Spirit had been given. There was some visible evidence of this Spirit baptism. Different denominations and theologians are divided over their understanding of Scripture on types of baptisms and whether a visible sign is necessary as proof of a Holy Spirit baptism. But we can be united about what is clear from God’s Word: Jesus promised a baptism of the Spirit that would bring evidence of a new power and witness for Jesus that we cannot produce on our own (Acts 1:8). But how often do we experience or witness this power? John Piper, pastor, author and seminary chancellor said, “When you read the New Testament honestly, you can’t help but get the impression of a big difference from a lot of contemporary Christian experience. In the book of Acts, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is more than a subconscious divine act of regeneration—it is a conscious experience of power.” Piper believes that for many Christians today it is a fact of doctrine, and he sometimes fears that “many people only have Christian ideas in their head not spiritual power in their heart.”
Over and over again in the book of Acts, we see this supernatural power at work as it drew people to Christ, miraculously changed lives both spiritually and physically, and brought praise and glory to God. Jesus said, “you will receive power.” He doesn’t say that it will be an intermittent or fleeting power. So why does it seem some of us see so little evidence of it? Has the Holy Spirit changed or taken a break, or have we? How might we contribute to a lack of His power? Are we putting out the Spirit’s fire because we’re too caught up with the cares of this world or too busy with our own selfish wills and small plans? Are we quenching the Spirit’s work with wrong motives, attitudes and sin like Simon the sorcerer? (Acts 8:21&23) Has disobedience grieved the Holy Spirit so that God is fighting against us? (Isaiah 63:10) Or are we so lacking in biblical knowledge that we don’t even know the gift we have? (Acts 19:2) If we truly know and believe God’s Word, many of us must be longing for a more powerful, Christian experience, a revival of the Holy Spirit’s power and work.
Jesus died so we could be baptized by the Spirit and have His power in us. So it doesn’t make sense that God would record His Spirit’s power at work in the book of Acts to be like a precious gift locked behind glass doors that we could see but not access. If we glorify God by looking like His Son (2 Corinthians 2:18), then wouldn’t that glory be incomplete in lives without His power? God answered when the believers prayed in Acts 4:29-30, “…enable your servants to speak your Word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” They experienced the benefits of their Spirit baptism because they asked for it in prayer. Jesus said He will do the same for us, “…how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13). Let’s ask!
Prayer: Dear Almighty God, thank you that your power is greater than anything or anyone in this universe. Thank you that we have access to your power by your Holy Spirit and that you hear and answer our prayers to experience more of your Spirit’s power. Lord forgive us when we quench your Spirit, when our Christian walk and witness show little evidence of your resurrection power. Let us not have a head full of doctrine but a life empty of your power. Reveal to us where we need to repent and change to experience and pour out your power. Please give us a holy dissatisfaction for anything less. Put in us a desire for a revival of your Holy Spirit’s work and cause us to pray intensely for it. For it is in Jesus’ name, the power of God and the One who sent His Spirit to His people. Amen!