January 7

Acts 19:1-2

“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.’” vs. 2

Evidently disciples of John the Baptizer had spread far beyond the boundaries of Judea and Galilee–Paul ran into a few during his first trip to Ephesus, more than a thousand miles away from the Jordan valley. They hadn’t even heard about Jesus and were puzzled when Paul asked them about the Holy Spirit. Of course, most of us have the same sort of puzzlement, and if we were asked if we’d received the Spirit, we’d probably plead ignorance. As far as the Trinity is concerned we have some notions about the Creator and are familiar with Jesus, but the Holy Spirit is a mystery, and subject to loads of debate. In reality, the Spirit is nothing more or less than the presence of God in our everyday living, or as some have put it, “the present tense of God.” That means that the Spirit isn’t something we received when we became believers; the Spirit is the reason we are believers. As Martin Luther put it, “We cannot by our own effort or understanding believe in Jesus…but the Holy Spirit has called us through the gospel…and gathered us into his body, the Church.” In the Acts account then, the disciples of John became believers because of the Holy Spirit, and the faithful testimony of Paul, the Spirit’s instrument.

Thought for the Day: What does it mean to say that God is a verb?

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