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Have You Heard of the Holy Spirit?

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied—altogether there were about twelve of them.
He entered the synagogue and for three months spoke out boldly, and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God.
We see in this passage that if we are going to claim the power of the name of Jesus in our lives then we must receive the Holy Spirit and be filled with the Spirit. Apollos’ incomplete preaching in Ephesus led to an incomplete spiritual experience on the part of the Ephesian people. It’s like the saying goes: “Fog in the pulpit, fog in the pew!” Priscilla and Aquila had to explain to Apollos the way of God more adequately because he only knew the baptism of John. One can only pass on what one has. Thus Apollos had not passed on to the Ephesians the full message of Christianity. The result was that the people of Ephesus did not know anything about the power of the Holy Spirit.

But God sent Paul to Ephesus to correct this deficiency; he baptized people into the name of Jesus and laid his hands on them so they might receive the Holy Spirit. In a later letter to this same church Paul says:
Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

In the same way as the Ephesians, if we have trusted in Jesus for our salvation, if we have come to the point of faith in him, then we have received the Holy Spirit. Believers in the Lord Jesus don’t need to have a second work of grace in order to receive the Spirit. But we do need to work at being filled with the Spirit just as Paul commanded this same church in Ephesians 5:18, “Be filled with the Spirit.” or literally: “Be being filled with the Spirit.” Being filled with the Holy Spirit is an ongoing activity in the life of the Christian. Whenever we surrender to the Lordship and leadership of the Spirit in our everyday lives, then and there we are filled with the Spirit. Paul wrote about this to the church at Corinth:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

How are we supposed to surrender to the Lordship of the Spirit on a daily basis? Practically speaking, how does it happen? The Spirit exercises his Lordship in our lives through the Word of God in Scripture. As we see in Ephesians 6:17, we are to put on the armor of God which includes taking up “the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” It is as we spend time daily reading God’s word in Scripture that we will know what the Holy Spirit wants us to do with our lives. Hebrews 4:12 tells us,
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The monarch butterfly is a familiar sight in many places across our country and is a beautiful sign of spring. Few butterflies can compare with the striking beauty of the monarch’s orange, yellow, and black wings. Each year people in many regions of the United States enjoy the unique pleasure of seeing thousands of these butterflies fill the sky as they begin to migrate south for the winter. These butterflies spend the winter months in forests of fir trees in the volcanic highlands of south-central Mexico. Environmentalists have identified nine areas where the monarchs cluster in colonies, and Mexico has designated five of these sites as sanctuaries of protection.

But these five sanctuaries are not enough to protect the monarch
population; they only cover sixty-two square miles. Meanwhile poor farmers and commercial loggers are clearing fir forests, at times even in the restricted zones, putting increasing pressure on existing butterfly colonies. Some experts have predicted that we will not have a monarch migration in twenty years if sanctuaries aren’t expanded and protected.

Like a beautiful, fragile monarch butterfly, God’s Spirit usually fills the heart in a gentle way. But we must intentionally keep a sanctuary for him because there are many things that can encroach upon his home in us. Our sense of his presence, our ability to hear his voice, our awareness of his direction–all can be lost if we do not safeguard a place for him.

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