The role of Paul during most of his missionary travels was to affirm and confirm converts to their new faith so that they may become lifelong disciples. Later, old man John, the one Jesus loved said that it brought him real joy when he saw his children walking in the truth. What a joy for a leader…or a parent…or a spouse. To see Truth affect the life of a person over a long period of time!
In continuing with this ENDURANCE OF THE BELIEVER we started last Sunday, the evidence of having the Holy Spirit alive and well in the lives of believers is found in certain verifications in their lives.
The evidence of Salvation being yours can be a continuing present relationship with Jesus. Jesus said in John 15:4, 7 “Abide in Me, and I in you” and “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you.” This means more than that one time prayer of asking Him into your life. There is now an investment of His Blood in you. He wants to possess your heart and your mind and your will and your very being. He is pleased when you come to Him in Worship, both privately and in public community worship.
Another evidence of Salvation is found in the life of obedience to God's commands. Look at 1 John 2:4-6. Not perfection but a life that reflects the Heart of the One who died for you.
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
Why did Paul ask such a question? Not a usual question! Was it because he did not see the fruit of the Spirit in their lives? How about your life? Is the Fruit of the Spirit seen? What is the Fruit of the Spirit and how is it seen?
If the Holy Spirit is genuinely at work in the lives of the believers, He will be producing the kind of Character traits Paul calls “the fruit of the Spirit” Gal 5:22 which is the definition of Gifts of the Spirit. The list goes:
1. LoveGal 5:22-23.
The question is not that a believer perfectly exemplifies them all in the life but rather, “Are these things a general characteristic of my life? Do I sense these attitudes in my heart? Do others (esp. those who are close to me) see these traits as evidence in my life? Have I been growing in them over a period of years?” It is not however OK to not let them grow in our lives. Seek them out. Grow in each one as you walk the Walk of Faith. Let His Spirit build them in your life. Truth be known, they cannot be faked!
There are always some in the Body of Christ who tear people down, cause pain, provide controversy and divisiveness or speak their mind too freely-not caring for the feelings of others. The result in their life is to see the Church hurt, the witness damaged, and the Church brought low. On the other hand, there are those within the Body who ALWAYS bring joy, building people up, edify others in every conversation, every prayer, and every work of ministry they put their hands on. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:16-20, we can ID them right off by their fruit. (You will know them by their fruit.) Maybe that is why Paul asked these men that hard pointed question…
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
Defined: Gal 5:22
Love- 1 John 4:10-12
Joy- John 15:11
Peace- Phil. 4:6-7
Patience- Proverbs 14:29
Kindness/Goodness- 1 Thess 5:15
Self-Control- 1 Thess 5:6
Faith- Hebrews 11:1,6
Humility- Phil 2:3-4
Forgiveness- Col 3:13
Hope- Romans 5:3-5
“Never heard about the Holy Spirit!”
These men were a lot like Apollos, in that they were not all there with all the facts. Things, important things were missing. They were, what are called today, nominal Christians or just disciples of John. In either case, they were living without either the whole Truth nor with the Power of the Christian Gospel.
While going through the ALPHA program here at IC, some said that they have never heard of the Holy Spirit the way Nicky explained it. Some may have heard about the Spirit's presence but not about how the Holy Spirit sets us free to worship and know Him better. Maybe the whole Gospel had been lost to them, so they did not expect to even know about the Spirit being active today.
Paul goes on to find out more about these 12 men.
"What baptism did you receive?
In v.4, Paul explains what John's baptism was and meant. The whole experience points to Jesus. Paul tells them that the One John was talking about was, in fact, Jesus. When they heard that, they were baptized.
Baptism is the outward expression of an inward change. Meaning that there must be a change FIRST! Believe and be Baptized! More than getting wet as a baby, or as a 13 year old, but a changed life-a rebirth! Once in darkness but now, in the Light of the Gospel! A good place to be!
When they heard this-they were baptized right away.
Obedience is the key. We could agree with all sorts of Spiritual understandings but if we do not act on that, then we are yet dead in our sins. All this may take some time but…the Spirit will go where the Body has gone. Come to fellowship, learn-yes, but don't let learning keep you away from His Love. How much do we NEED to know and understand before we surrender to His Grace? All these 12 heard was THE Name of Jesus & they acted. Belief is like that! May not make a lot of sense but it is the right thing to do!
v.6 Paul placed his hands of them-the Holy Spirit came on them-spoke in tongues AND prophesied! A sign.
The Lord in His Mercy and Grace gives outward signs sometimes. This “other languages” was the same word that was used on the Day of Pentecost-which is today!-and prophecy was the other sign. One is not more important than the other. Both were given and both were 'used' to bring Glory to the Lord. Now, full salvation was theirs. God had moved!
See Acts 15:11. At the Council in Jerusalem, here is what was decided.
11 "No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are."
Don't have to repeat some things and cause more hardships. Faith alone in the Lord Jesus was and is enough!
Repentance, faith in Jesus, water baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit…all these are part of the Spiritual bond that all men and women everywhere belong as they are in Christ.
v.8 Paul went to speak in the synagogue-boldly for three months.
Here in Ephesus, the Old Testament promises were being made clear with the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus. The eyewitness reports of them being fulfilled were offered as evidence. Paul was trying to remove ALL obstacles to anyone coming to Faith in Jesus.
See Acts 18:4.
But some became OBSTINATE: stubborn, determined NOT to agree, unwilling to change or give up something.
o Refused to believe decline to accept, unwilling.
o Publicly MALIGNED the Way. Evil in nature, to cause harm intentionally doing it publicly!
So Paul left them and took his disciples and taught them daily @ the Hall of Tyrannus for two years!
This was a rental room during the hours that Ephesus took a snooze. It was the Mediterranean “siesta” between 11AM and 4PM and during this time Paul would be teaching there every day for two years! He works as a tent maker in the mornings and in the afternoons, he would teach. The tireless apostle and his eager students would continue this way for two years. It reaches everyone on the province of Asia so that they all HEARD the Word of God.
What have we learned today? The Gift of the Spirit is given to those who have repented and believed in the Lord Jesus. These gifts are then used to bring honor to His Name within the Body and to give the Fellowship a way to bless each other. The list in Gal., Rom. and Eph., gives God's people a handle on how to build each other up in the Lord. These things, the gifts, are to be developed through obedience and openness to the Lord's commands.
We are not to be obstinate to His Word. We are to be open and changeable. And as we learn more about Him, and we live that life out before our families and neighbors, all who live in Tokorozawa will hear the Word of the Lord.
Until that all hear! Until they all believe!
Today is Pentecost Sunday. ICCS joined with Believers from over 220 countries around the world in an International Day of Prayer. It all started in South Africa with a dream in 1990. A layman wanted people all over the world to pray on Pentecost Sunday and ask the Lord of the Harvest to break down the walls of unbelief and to move His Spirit in the lives of men and women around the world. Today, we were told that only about 19 counties did not sign up to take part in this day of Prayer. How exciting it was to know that THAT many believers from around the world were joining together to seek the Father's face. Our numbers were small but we covered the whole earth! I WAS BLESSED TO BE A PART OF THIS WORLD WIDE EFFORT TO LIFT THE NAME OF JESUS UP!
Shine Jesus, Shine! Fill Japan with the Father's Glory!