In Acts 19, we see the powerful stories of the Lord at work in Paul and the early church. Here we read about Paul spreading the good news in the city of Ephesus. This city was a great location to spread the gospel to all the nations since it was a center for trade during this time. It also had several roads leading to and from it. All that to say, it was influential, kind of like a New York City of their day. The Ephesians had not yet heard the entire message of the gospel. They did not yet realize that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied about all those years ago. So, as Paul always does, he begins to share the truth powerfully. He questions them about their knowledge of the Holy Spirit and about whose baptism they received. They reply with the fact that they received John’s baptism. Then, Paul goes on to explain in verses 4-7, “...John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the LORD JESUS. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[b] and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.” These 12 Ephesian men gave their hearts to the Lord. And, when Paul laid his hands on them, they were baptized in the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other tongues. Speaking in tongues was the initial physical evidence that they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was their prayer language which they could use to be empowered and edified by the Holy Spirit. This is what Paul meant when he said in Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” The Holy Spirit was speaking through them at this time and they prophesied. We know that Paul was also filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues as it says in 1 Corinthians 14:18. Through this filling of the Spirit, Paul did miracles where people received healing from simply touching one of Paul’s handkerchiefs. As Paul walked by, people were healed. This was not by the works Paul had been doing. Not at all. It was because of the Holy Spirit’s power at work within him. Paul had to simply continue to be obedient to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Paul argued persuasively about the gospel so that some believed. Those who did not believe were outraged by his message so that even riots were started. When people became obstinate, Paul moved on. He was empowered, filled with discernment, and he obeyed. In John 14:14, Jesus said we would do the same work Jesus did and even greater things. What did Jesus do? Healed the sick, preached light in the darkness, cast out demons, and more. We could keep going and going. A lot of those miracles are what Paul did and he did it through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
We believe in a Trinitarian God which means the Holy Spirit is also God and we have the Holy Spirit, or God, living in us today. John 14:17 says about the Holy Spirit that “You know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you.” This means we have the power to ask God for miracles today and he can show up in mighty ways. It means that we can have the discernment and the boldness to share the message of the gospel and to know when to move on. It means we can use our heavenly prayer language for personal and corporate edification so that the church of Christ may be built up. As a Heritage Church family, let’s do everything we can to advance the kingdom of God through the power of the Holy Spirit just as Paul and the early church did in the book of Acts. Let’s ask for the discernment of the Holy Spirit and the strength to obey. Let’s pray and believe for God’s Spirit to transform our city for the glory of His name.