It is time for chapter 19, and as usual, there are some lessons to be learned here. Let’s take a look and see what this chapter has to say.
The first part is showing that it is necessary to be baptised in the Spirit and in water. I grew up in a baptist church, and I now attend a church that does believer’s baptism. I believe that when people make a decision to follow Christ, they should get baptised in water as did Jesus. I don’t believe that this should be done as a baby, but only when you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. Having said that, baptism in the Spirit is just as important, if not more so. Baptism in water is an outward expression of an inward change, you are merely showing everyone there that you have been born again. It is not magical, the water is not blessed, or anything like that. It is merely an act of obedience that shows that you are born again. Being baptised by the Spirit is powerful. There are very often immediate signs that follow, like speaking in tongues, prophesying or the like. This is what I believe releases you into your ministry, this is what equips you with the power of the Holy Spirit, to do what you have been called to do. I don’t think that anyone should go into any ministry without being baptised in the Spirit. You can do it, but you won’t be as successful as you will be with the Holy Spirit. So how do you get baptised in the Spirit? Paul laid hands on the people and they were baptised by the Spirit. Ask someone who has been baptised by the Spirit, and they can lay hands on you to receive the same.
The next part is interesting. God worked so powerfully through Paul, I’d love to have pieces of cloth that I have touched, healing people. That would be awesome. I am not as dedicated as Paul, but I still want to see people set free from illnesses of all sorts. Then we have a word of warning, the Jewish exorcists trying to do the same thing. Trying to cast a demon out in the name of Jesus. There are so many movies nowadays about demons and exorcisms and they are mostly rubbish. If you think that what happens in these movies is true, you’re mistaken. The only authority over demons is the authority that we have been given by Jesus. No amount of garlic, ‘good magic’ (there is no such thing) or chants are going to help. Jesus name is the only thing that works, but not everyone can use it. The seven sons of Sceva tried, and they came off second best. A distant second at that. Jesus’ name is not a magic word that we throw around, there is power in it because of what He did, and He has put that power in the hands of those that follow Him. The problem is that we have people who don’t know Jesus, posing as the ‘authority’ on ghosts, the afterlife, spirits and the like, when we as Christians are scared of them. I think that it is time that we deal with the demonic and answer the tough questions. Imagine if we all used our prophetic and word of knowledge gifts, there would be no need for psychics. Imagine instead of ghost hunters on TV, we had Godly people educating us about evil and how to avoid it. Imagine instead of dressing up like a zombie for halloween, your child was filled with the Holy Spirit. Imagine how much better off we’d all be.
Next we have some more issues for Paul, as if he hasn’t had enough already. This time it is over money. The people who make the idols, make a fortune from selling them, so they don’t want the people to stop worshipping them. I wonder how much of this goes on today. Why do governments try to stop things like ‘healing in the streets’? Why would they want to stop people getting well? Why would they not want us to heal illnesses, handicaps, mental illness, pains, disabilities and the like? Is it because there is so much money generated through medicine, doctors and hospitals? Who knows. Ask yourself this question, they are always going on about how bad smoking is, but they never ban it. If you drive drunk they ban you, why not ban smoking if it is so bad for people? Money. This is what it so often comes down to. People worship money and not God. So here is a personal question. What have you compromised on because of money? This is not to condemn you, just to make you think about your priorities. This has been a hard lesson for me of late, I’ll share more with you after this series on Acts.