8:14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Interesting. I could write a book about this and it would still be inadequate. As a Seventh-day Adventist this topic is quite humbling. We keep the Sabbath, the seventh day, the original that God set aside as unique and special. It's a day that has taken a beating in sacred history but any honest student of the Bible is forced to admit that the Sabbath is mentioned over and over from Genesis to Revelation in nearly every book of the Bible. As recently as two weeks ago a fellow Seventh-day Adventist repeated what I have both said myself and heard countless times. "I don't know how anyone can miss the Sabbath. It's everywhere. It's so plain!"
As true as that is many sincere believers do miss it just as I and countless others have missed something even more obvious: the gift/baptism of the Holy Spirit. Sabbath is mentioned specifically 59 times in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit is referenced directly 101 times. In every Christian denomination baptism is taken seriously. We may disagree on the when and/or how of baptism but we all agree it is important. The mysterious almost unexplainable part is that water baptism is only part and the lesser part of baptism in the New Testament. When Jesus was baptised in the Jordan River by John the Baptist it was only half the story. When He came up out of the water He received a second baptism, the baptism of the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit. For Jesus the Spirit appeared symbolically as a dove. However John the Baptist told the people that later Jesus would baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Why a dove for Jesus and fire for us? A dove represents purity and peace. Fire represents purification. Jesus was perfect. We are not. We need refining fire. He did not. The Spirit has a work of purifying to do in us before He can empower us. Jesus needed no purifying.
All of that aside, the obvious yet largely ignored point remains: baptism by water is only half the story and the lesser half at that. There is a second baptism. After Philip baptised the Samaritans with water as John the Baptist had baptised him and countless others, the news filtered back to Jerusalem. Peter and John came to see what was happening in Samaria, the land of the hated "half breeds". When they arrived they immediately realized something was wrong. They had been forgiven through water baptism. They had chosen to follow Jesus but they had never received the Spirit of God. Laying aside their racism and prejudice Peter and John prayed and laid their hands on them so that they too could receive His Spirit. The same Spirit they received as tongues of fire when they prayed together in that upper room at Pentecost. The same Spirit that emboldened them to preach Jesus day after day in the temple through arrests and beatings and at the risk of their lives. Water baptism is for forgiveness and Spirit baptism is for power.
Here is what my favourite author wrote about this:
"God has called His people to glory and virtue, and these will be manifest in the lives of all who are truly connected with Him. Having become partakers of the heavenly gift, they are to go on unto perfection, being “kept by the power of God through faith.” 1 Peter 1:5. It is the glory of God to give His virtue to His children. He desires to see men and women reaching the highest standard; and when by faith they lay hold of the power of Christ, when they plead His unfailing promises, and claim them as their own, when with an importunity that will not be denied they seek for the power of the Holy Spirit, they will be made complete in Him." A of A pg 541
A Christian who has been washed in the waters of baptism is forgiven but powerless, like a car that is washed and perfect yet has no fuel in the tank. As we continue through the book of Acts we will see that the baptism of His Spirit is not simply an issue - it is THE issue. Until we as followers of Jesus discover our emptiness and plead for His Spirit to fill us we will continue to stumble along as if in a coma largely having no impact on the world.
This is far more serious than I have the ability to convey with words. If you have questions I'll be happy to answer as I'm able.