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Praying to Receive the Holy Spirit

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Acts 8:1-8, 12, 14-17
Acts 8:1
1. Now Saul was consenting to his death.
a. Stephen’s death (Acts 7:58-60)
2. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
a. Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 8:2
1. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial,
2. and made great lamentation over him.
Acts 8:3
1. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church,
2. entering every house,
3. and dragging off men and women,
4. committing them to prison.
Acts 8:4
1. Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.
a. Scattered – to be dispersed (as seed)
Acts 8:5
1. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.
a. Philip, one of the seven
i. Acts 6:5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,
b. The city of Samaria - Philip most likely visited ancient Shechem, the main city of the Samaritans.[1]
Acts 8:6-7
1. (v.6) And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip,
2. hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
a. (v.7) For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed;
b. and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.
Acts 8:8
1. And there was great joy in that city.
Verses 9-11 inform us about a notable resident of Samaria, a sorcerer named Simon which we will look at next week.
Acts 8:12
1. But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ,
2. both men and women were baptized.
a. Acts 8:3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
Acts 8:14-15
1. (v.14) Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,
2. (v.15) who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
Why did Peter and John pray for them to receive the Spirit? What does “receive the Holy Spirit” mean?
What receiving the Holy Spirit is NOT (in Luke’s terminology):
1. Interest - And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, (v.6)
2. Witnessing miracles - hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. (v.6)
3. Casting our demons - For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; (v.7)
4. Healings - and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. (v.7)
5. Emotions - And there was great joy in that city. (v.8)
6. Believing - But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, (v.12)
7. Baptism - both men and women were baptized. (v.12)
Although other New Testament authors use the phrase “receive the Holy Spirit” to refer to salvation (John 20:22; Galatians 3:2), Luke does not.
· John 20:22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
· Galatians 3:2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—
Luke consistently uses the terms “believed” and “received the word” to indicate salvation/regeneration/rebirth/conversion (Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4; Acts 8:12).
· Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
· Acts 4:4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
· Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
· Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,
Acts 8:16
1. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them.
2. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
There is some speculation as to the need for the Samaritans to be prayed for to receive the Holy Spirit:
1. They believed Philip but not in Jesus (Acts 8:12).
a. Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
i. Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.
b. Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his [Peter’s] word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.
i. Philip was not an apostle; Peter was?
2. The Samaritans were simply baptized but without genuine faith. Neither Philip, Peter, John or Luke seem to take this view.
3. Since the Samaritan religion was a mixture of Judaism and paganism due to the displacement of people groups during Assyrian conquest, the Samaritans only received partial salvation which was only complete once the apostles prayed for them. The Bible does not indicate this when other non-Jewish people come to faith in Christ (Acts 10).
The Early Church viewed salvation, water baptism, and receiving the Spirit as three separate experiences, not one and the same.
1. Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Some insight may be gained from Acts 10:44-48:
1. Acts 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.
2. Acts 10:45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
3. Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered,
4. Acts 10:47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
5. Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
Acts 11:15-16
1. Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.
2. Acts 11:16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
Acts 2:1-4
1. Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2. Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
3. Acts 2:3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
4. Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 1:8
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 8:17
1. Then they laid hands on them,
a. Acts 6:6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.
2. and they received the Holy Spirit.
a. Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
How to to Receive the Holy Spirit
1. Have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord.
2. Ask Jesus to baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
a. Matthew 3:11 …[Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit….
3. Receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit by faith.
4. Speak out in a supernatural language as the Holy Spirit gives you the words to say.
a. Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
[1] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2096). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
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