A Walk Through Acts
Now, I just want to mention this reference because it points to the fact that when Jesus comes on the scene in power confirming the word which was spoken, arguments against such become meaningless.
Acts 4:13 – Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. [Emphasis added are mine]
This next reference is interesting because I questioned how can I be filled with the Spirit again, if I have already received the Spirit? I see the early church, who had received the Spirit previously, filled with the Holy Spirit again.
Acts 4:29-31 – And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. [Emphasis added are mine]
I realize now that when brothers and sisters of one Spirit, of one mind, and one accord come together to petition Jesus to anoint them that He will do so by filling them with His Spirit, even if they have already received Him previously. What does that mean, fill them, if He’s already done so and resides within them? It simply means that He rises up from within them, giving them a greater anointing, to fulfill a particular calling. They were asking Him to be able to speak the word with boldness and to follow their words with signs and omens confirming the truth which they spoke. They were being threatened by the chief priests and Pharisees. They were coming against the political and religious establishment and they believed they needed more of Him to continue in boldness. Jesus said from out of the "belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). In this verse, we see that they did continue in the power of the Spirit, speaking boldly the word of God with signs and omens accompanying. This is the mark of a true believer in Christ who has received Him, by the Spirit, and obeys the call of the commission. They walk in power and the power is irrefutable.
Acts 5:14 – And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.
Here we see many signs and omens following and that they who believe are added to Lord Jesus, regardless of sex. Now, if we know that Peter continually preaches Christ, His life, death, burial, and resurrection and that the three-fold witness is commanded to be obeyed, than I must assume that those who believed that are added to the Lord also must have repented, been baptized in the name of Jesus and received the Spirit. Or else, how can one be added to Jesus if he does not receive the Spirit that makes Him one with the body, that is Christ (Romans 8:9)? Remember the precedent set...
I Corinthians 12:12-13 - For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. [Emphasis added are mine]
It says here that in one Spirit (the Spirit of Jesus Christ) we are baptized into one body. When we are baptized in water and in Spirit (for there is only one baptism - Ephesians 4:4-6) we are baptized into the body of Christ. That is what it means when they who believe are added to the Lord.
The following account in Acts is of Stephen and his magnificent witness, but I will leave that for you to read so that we can stay on task of the question at hand.
After Stephen's account comes Philip (the Evangelist of Acts 21:8). Philip goes to Samaria to evangelize the gospel message to the Samaritans there.
Acts 8:5–23 - Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
Here we see the Samaritans heard the gospel, trusted and obeyed. By that, I mean they repented and were baptized in the name of Jesus to the forgiveness of sins. Only two of the three-fold witness is complete. But was that all? Could it be said that salvation had come unto them? Could it be said the Spirit was received and already indwelling them because they believed? Well, all we have to do is look at the account for it speaks for itself.
The apostles at Jerusalem hear that the Samaritans hear and trust the word of God preached unto them, but they send Peter and John to them, to pray for them that they might also receive the Holy Ghost. If it is true, that a person can have the Holy Spirit without being baptized in the Holy Spirit, then why was it so important for Paul and John to travel all the way from Jerusalem to Samaria to pray so that they may receive the Spirit? The reality of it was that the Spirit had yet to be received! At this point, they were believers without the Spirit. The third part of the three-fold witness had not yet been complete. The apostles in Jerusalem realized that as of yet the Holy Spirit had not fallen on any one of them. After Peter and John arrived, they prayed for them to receive the Spirit and laid hands on them. The Samaritans received the Spirit and now have become believers with the Spirit.
Question: How did they know that they received the Spirit? Some visible sign must have been manifested or expressed for them to know that the Spirit had indeed been received by the Samaritans. It says that Simon the Sorcerer observed that the Holy Spirit is given through the laying on of hands of the apostles. So what could Simon the Sorcerer possibly have observed to know that the Holy Spirit is given through the laying on of hands and received by the believer?
The laying of hands resulted in the Samaritans speaking in tongues. It is the outward manifestation and sign that a believer has indeed received the Spirit (by the initial evidence of the indwelling Christ). Remember the precedent!
Is this true? Is there more evidence to support this conclusion? Good question... let us continue.
Brief interlude: For those of you that think that the salvation came to the Samaritans before hands were laid upon them to receive the Spirit, think on this. Simon the Sorcerer observed that the Holy Spirit could be imparted to believers. It says that Simon himself also believed and was baptized and followed Philip, amazed at the power and the great signs. Then, when he sees them lay hands on the Samaritans and how they received the Spirit, he tries to buy that power from Peter. Peter rebukes him and says, "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." Does this sound like man who has received the salvation of our God?
The same words used to describe Simon the Sorcerer were same words used describe all the Samaritans: they both believed and were baptized in the name of Jesus. However, there was a difference between the two. Simon the Sorcerer did not receive the Spirit because his heart was truly not right with God and only God could judge that. Although he went through the motions of "repentance" and baptism, God truly knowing the sin he harbored in his heart, did not pour out His Spirit on him.
This was a man who had heard the gospel of salvation, yet did not receive the circumcision of the heart necessary to be saved. He was envious of Philip and the apostles and was still in the bond of iniquity. If salvation had truly come to him, Peter would have no grounds to say such a thing to a fellow believer in Christ. This is a perfect example of how someone can believe in the gospel of Christ and be baptized in the name of Jesus and still not have salvation. Simon lacked a true repentant heart and for that he did not partake of the baptism in the Spirit as the seal of the three-fold witness.
© copyright 2000, revised 2011 Jesus M. Ruiz