Acts 19: 1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. 2 “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.” 3 “Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked.
And they replied, “The baptism of John.” 4 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.” 5 As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
Paul travels to Ephesus, a church that came to love him deeply. Paul meets some new believers and wants to qualify their faith, so he asks them if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed and they say "no." They said they had not even heard there was a Holy Spirit. It is here where a very important issue in following certain denominations begins to come into focus. We either take the scripture as it is or we explain it away. If we are not leaning toward a certain doctrine that is included in denominational beliefs we can read this scripture and see that those believers had not received the Holy Spirit, per the Word of God. It says it in the above verses. It cannot be denied because those who have eyes will see it. At this point, we come to a crossroads and we should choose which road we will travel. The road of the Word of God as it is written or the road of our suppositions. I choose the Word of God and here is what is happening.
Remember, Apollos had come to Ephesus and was preaching about the good news of Jesus and many came to a faith. Apollos had only known the baptism of John and had apparently only been preaching that baptism. Paul in Acts had begun to teach them when he was in Ephesus earlier and could not stay and promised he would come back. On this third missionary journey, he first goes to Ephesus and begins to teach them about what happens when they receive Jesus. Paul mentions the baptism of the Holy Spirit that happens when they receive Jesus and they had not even heard of this kind of baptism, so they were apparently repenting due to John's baptism, but they were not saved. So Paul leads them to Jesus for salvation and they are baptized by the Holy Spirit when they receive Jesus. John's baptism was a baptism for life change, and Jesus' baptism was the change agent for that change to be complete.
They didn't have a second blessing by the Holy Spirit because they did not have the first blessing that happens when we are born again in the Holy Spirit. There is no partial life conversion because we receive the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion. Paul laid hands on them in verse 6 and the result was they spoke in tongues and prophesied. I received the Holy Spirit when I received Jesus by faith, but I have never spoken in tongues, but I do prophesy as a result of receiving the Holy Spirit. My prophecy is "accept Jesus as Savior because He is coming again for His church and wants you to be born again when He does come." You may say "Well I know that" and miss the fact that you "know" that because you "know" Jesus! We have to deny the prophetic words of Jesus in John 14:3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you so that you will always be with me where I am.4 And you know the way to where I am going” and we have to work to keep that prophetic word to ourselves because the Holy Spirit is leading us to share it because it is true. Do not deny sharing this message of hope wherever you are because a lost and dying world must hear it! This message is busting at the seams in our hearts and a believer will never be totally at peace until they let this message out to all who will hear it. The Word of God is "living" so do not try to kill it by not giving it away.
Paul's third journey began with him clearing the way for the Holy Spirit power to work in this church at Ephesus and he "righted the ship" by explaining to those who were willing to put their faith in Jesus, not John, and the life change happened immediately and with great power because that church took off when they found the whole truth. Apollos had great zeal but Paul shared where the true source of power would come from and that church took off. If you are in a church that does not preach this Word then you need to pray for a revival and a new response to the prophetic message of Jesus through each of us.
The Pilgrimage Continues