Reflection on Acts 8:1-17

Scripture

The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Observation

Following the stoning of Stephen, a great wave of persecution breaks out, scattering the believers everywhere. Saul is a part of this persecution.

The scattered believers take the gospel, preaching about Jesus wherever they go.

Philip goes to Samaria, and many people receive Jesus there, including a man named Simon who had previously performed many acts of magic.

The apostles send Peter and John to find out what is happening in Samaria. They discover that the people had not received the Holy Spirit because they had only been baptised into the name of Jesus. When Peter and John lay hands on them they receive the Holy Spirit.

Application

A great revival is taking place in Samaria. Even people practising the occult are hearing the gospel and being saved.

In all the happy chaos, people are receiving a baptism that is not quite right, with the result that they do not receive the Holy Spirit when they are baptised.

It is hard to fathom this. We tend to think that words and liturgy don’t matter that much because God looks at our heart.

But clearly the Lord thought there was something lacking in the practice so that He withheld the baptism in the Holy Spirit from the new believers. They came up out of the water without speaking in tongues.

Fortunately, there are a remedy available- Peter and John laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

So our words matter. If we only baptise in the name of the Lord Jesus and not of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) then our practice lacks something. The person may not receive all that God wants for them. This is not to say that God is limited by our words, but it may be that our words limit our ability to receive.

The Lord is not reluctant to bless us, often we just have to ask with an expectant heart.

Prayer

Father God, pour out your Holy Spirit on me. Baptise me, fill me, overshadow me, anoint me. Please pour out every grace into my spirit so that I can more readily honour you and point people to the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

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