January 7

Acts 8:14-17

“Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.” vss. 14-15

The early years of the Church were a jumble of activity. The apostles tried to impose some sense of order but it was impossible. Believers were heading in every direction to tell the good news of Jesus–they were in Alexandria, Damascus, Corinth, Rome, and some even had intentions of going to Spain, Ethiopia, and India. The message could not be contained, and it certainly couldn’t be controlled. In Samaria folks had been baptized but they didn’t know anything about the Holy Spirit, so Peter and John were sent in their direction. There weren’t any rules so the leaders were making things up on the fly–surely one couldn’t be a real Christian without receiving the Holy Spirit along with baptism. We still have those issues in some of our congregations–leaders not only want to control believers, they want to control God as well. Some still say it’s a two step process: first baptism, and then the Holy Spirit. As though we could even imagine controlling God’s Holy Spirit! The truth is that the Holy Spirit had been in Samaria long before Peter and John got there. No one becomes a believer apart from the Spirit of God–and that’s how it’s always been!

Thought for the Day: How does one “receive the Holy Spirit”?

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