19:1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. 7 Now the men were about twelve in all.
OK we're tracking the revelation that Paul could tell this group of believers in Ephesus had never received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In fact they confess they have never heard of the Holy Spirit. It comes out that they were baptized by John the Baptist. It appears they never met Jesus. This is not a stretch since Ephesus is a long distance from Jerusalem and Jesus even though He crossed borders in foreign lands He never went that far. Clearly these men had been in the region of Judah. Perhaps they went to the temple for a Passover celebration or another feast and heard the preaching of John the Baptist and were under conviction that they needed to repent and were baptized. They returned to Ephesus and without mass media or further contact with the events that transpired in Judah afterwards are essentially "cut off" from "the rest of the Story".
Now years later Paul somehow comes in contact with this small group of believers and instantly recognizes they are stunted in a very specific way - they have never been baptized by the Holy Spirit.
Like I said yesterday fireworks started going off in my head back in 2005. Was it possible that my church in general after nearly 2000 years of Christianity and 150 years of Adventism was equally stunted?
I began studying out the instances of Spirit baptism beginning with the baptism of Jesus. As He came up out of the water God spoke from heaven, the Spirit came down on Him in the form of a dove. John had mentioned that He who would come would baptize with the Spirit and with fire. Clearly the men from Ephesus didn't stay with John long enough to hear that teaching. Regardless, there was no fire at Jesus' baptism. The Spirit came as a dove. A dove represents peace. Fire represents purification. That's why we sing about and the Bible talks about the Refiner's fire. The words God spoke reveal why the Spirit came as a dove and not as fire: "This is My Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him."
God was pleased with all that was "in Him". There was nothing undesirable or what we might call 'sinful' to burn away. Jesus was the spotless Lamb of God. The Spirit of God found a perfect home in Him. The power and presence of God could fully inhabit Jesus in human form because there was nothing evil or twisted or perverted to prevent or disturb a full open relationship. No fire was needed. God was at perfect peace with His Son even in after He became one of us.
One more thing to think about and then we'll continue tomorrow. When Jesus was baptized with the Holy Spirit it was an undeniable, tangible event. Anyone who was there knew something supernatural happened. It was far more than a simple dip in water.
See you tomorrow...