“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.” (Acts 19:1 – 2)
When I was a “young pup” in faith, I knew there was a Holy Spirit. But I only knew that as part of the Triune theology I grew up with. As I grew into adolescence, I thought I knew what “being in the Holy Spirit” should look like, but what I saw was not something I had experienced. I was, actually, as clueless as the “disciples” in Ephesus.
“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.” (Verses 3 – 4)
This is a key point the writer of Acts makes, that John’s baptism would not have included an encounter with the Holy Spirit as it did with Jesus’ disciples who received the Holy Spirit during Pentecost; nor, I assume, the gospel as the disciples preached it. And apparently not as Paul taught it.
“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.” (Verses 5 – 7)
I allow myself a tiny bit of cynicism – twelve, really? The same amount as Jesus’ disciples? But maybe there were. The important point to the writer of Acts is that the Spirit came upon them. I remember my first fully realized encounter with the Holy Spirit. It shook me to my core and changed my life. It was twenty-eight years ago. Not quite the same experience as in this scripture citation, and not the type of experience I was seeking in my younger years. But it did confirm that the Divine had been watching over me and preparing me.
There were subsequent experiences. And yes, some of them have felt like starting my faith all over again because they moved to different depths and types of faith. I actually look forward to faith renewals because it reassures me that the Divine is not finished working in me yet.
May you, beloved reader, experience the Divine in the New Year; in fact I hope and prayer there are multiple experiences! Shalom & Selah!