Today's Foundations Devotional: Further outpourings of the Spirit
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much
more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
The experience of the apostles demonstrates that salvation, or the new birth, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit are two distinct and separate experiences. The apostles received the first of these experiences on resurrection Sunday; the second, seven weeks later on Pentecost Sunday.
Further study in the book of Acts discloses that the two experiences are normally separate. Furthermore, from Pentecost Sunday onward the term “to receive the Holy Spirit” is applied always and only to the second experience – the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is never again used to describe the new birth.
There are three other occasions subsequent to Pentecost where Scripture describes what took place when people were baptised in the Holy Spirit. These were in Samaria, in Ephesus and in the household of Cornelius. We will examine each of these in turn.
The ministry of Philip in Samaria is introduced in Acts 8:5.
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. … But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptised (Acts 8:5, 12).
These people had now heard the truth of Christ preached to them by Philip; they had believed; they had been baptised. It would be unreasonable and unscriptural to deny that these people were saved.
Consider the words of Christ as He commissioned His disciples to preach the gospel.
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptised will be saved: but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16).
The people of Samaria had heard the gospel preached, they had believed, and they had been baptised. Therefore we know, on the authority of Christ’s own words, that they were saved. Yet these same people up to this time had not received the Holy Spirit.
Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17).
We see that the people of Samaria received salvation through the ministry of Philip; they received the Holy Spirit through the ministry of Peter and John. Their receiving the Holy Spirit was a separate experience, subsequent to their receiving salvation. Here, then, is a second scriptural example which indicates it is possible for people to have become genuine Christians but not yet to have received the Holy Spirit in the sense in which this phrase is used from Pentecost onward.
Father, thank You for giving me salvation in the Lord Jesus, but also for making
that second step of baptism in the Holy Spirit available to me, so that in response
to Paul's call in 1 Cor. 14 may pursue and desire the gifts of the Spirit. Amen.