Paul at Ephesus
1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.
4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
Paul’s 3rd missionary journey took 4 years. We saw what happened before that last week. Apollos came to Ephesus and ministered there before Paul arrived. And when Paul arrived, he had already gone on to Corinth to continue the ministry.
1 Cor “I planted; Apollos watered; God made it grow.”
Apollos was bold, sincere, but his message was incomplete because he knew only the baptism of John. Aquila and Priscilla heard his message and realized that it was incomplete. So, they invited him to their home and shared with him the complete message. Through this sharing, he became a “complete” Christian, and was able to move on in ministry.
Paul later met some people who had the same problem that Apollos had.
1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.Acts 19:1-3
These men were disciples, but the question was: whose disciples? Their answer to this question was vague and unclear, and so was their discipleship. They had not heard of the Holy Spirit, so they would have been unable to be Jesus’ disciples because the MAIN ministry of the HS is to testify about Jesus.
If they were disciples of John, they should have heard of the HS, because he also spoke of the HS in his preaching.
“I baptize you with water, but one is coming who is more powerful than I. He will baptize you with fire.”
We also must be very clear about whose disciples we are.
At that time, some people were confused about who Jesus and John the Baptist were – and what the difference was. Many called Jesus “John the Baptist” and many challenged John and said, “Who are you?” He said of himself, “I’m the voice of one calling in the desert, make straight the way for the Lord.”
Are you clear about whose disciple you are?
4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.Acts 19:4-5
What is the difference between John’s baptism and the baptism into the name of Christ?
- John’s: repentance
- Jesus’: forgiveness of sin
The message of John was a threat and a warning. “You brood of vipers! Who warned you of the coming wrath? Do not think Abraham is your father, because God can create children from these roots. Any tree that is not good will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Jesus’ message was a consolation. “Peace I give to you. Do not be afraid. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in me.” (This means: I will be responsible for you, your life, your future. I will care for you and keep you.) Jesus is our KEEPER.
- John’s: looked forward to the appearance of the Messiah. This was good until the Messiah appeared. He has come! And finished all jobs that are needed for our victory through his death and resurrection. Thus, he proclaimed:
- “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He must increase; I must decrease.”
The preaching of John was a stage on the road to Jesus. He knew this clearly.
- Jesus: looks back to Jesus’ finished work on the cross.
This means, yes, even today in the church building, there may be somebody who needs salvation. Here, there were 12 men in all who needed this.
Through verse 5, they became truly born-again Christians. There is no record of the “between” verses 4 and 5, but it is sure that Paul preached the good news of the gospel of Christ, the news of his death and resurrection, and they called on the name of the Lord and were saved and baptized into his name.
Today: if we call all people in the church “Christians” there may be 4 kinds.
4 kinds of Christians inside the church
- Nominal Christians: (not really Christians) – they don’t believe in their hearts in Jesus Christ. To them, Christianity is just “a” religion out of many and they say, “it is my religion.”
- Incomplete Christians: (at one time, Apollos also was one) – They have abundant knowledge about the Scriptures, smart, gentlemen. They believe Jesus died, they believe his death and resurrection is necessary for our salvation. BUT, in their heart of hearts they still believe, “But it’s not enough. I must do something I more to achieve my salvation.” How about you? Do you believe his death and resurrection ARE enough?
- Uncertain / ignorant Christians: They believe that Jesus is their Savior, but they are unsure about their salvation – unclear about what they believe. Sometimes they are doubtful about their salvation, often depending on their situation.
- When they feel “good” about their spiritual lives, they feel, “Yes, I am saved!”
- But when they feel “bad”, they feel, “I’m not sure of my salvation…”
- Assured Christians: (this must come from the Holy Spirit) – They believe in Christ as Lord and Savior. They believe his death and resurrection are not only necessary but also enough for our salvation and forgiveness of sins. They have absolute overjoyed assurance of salvation – based on WHAT Christ has done, not what we have done.
I’m a pastor, but I cannot give you the Assurance of Salvation. Only the Holy Spirit can do so: “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
John Wesley – the founder of the Methodist church
At one time, he was like Apollos. He was a born Christian (“born into a Christian family”). He studied at Oxford and he was a leader of a “holy club” – called so because they attempted to cultivate their spiritual lives.
He became a pastor and missionary to Native Americans in Georgia. He was more accurate and knowledgeable in the Scriptures than most Christians at that time. But he had no joy. He had no assurance of salvation. One day he wrote in his diary:
I went to America to convert the Indians, but who shall convert me?
May 24, 1738
His problem was solved – at ONE time – by putting his faith in Christ wholly.
In the evening, I went very unwillingly to a society … where one was reading Luther’s writing on Romans. About 8:45, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ; Christ alone. An assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from death.
The fruit of his absolute assurance of salvation was the great Wesleyan Revival that swept the nation of England very powerfully.
- If you are Christian, are you saved?
- What kind of Christian are you?
I hope we all can have the Assurance of Salvation.
Assurance of Salvation verses:
- John 1:12 “To all those who believed in him and called on his name, he gave the right to be called ‘children of God.'”
- How long does a child-parent relationship last? Our whole lives.
- How long does salvation last? Eternity
- soteria = “deliverance” (Greek) – moving from one place to another – a ONE WAY deliverance from death to life
- John 5:24 “Whoever believes in me … has crossed over from death to life.”
- Salvation is an absolute promise and guarantee of Christ. If we believe in him, we can trust in his promise.
- John 10:28-29 “I give you eternal life. You shall never perish and no one can snatch you out of my hand.”
- Our salvation does not depend on us holding his hand, but his holding our hand
- His personality and character is so great to keep his promise. He guarantees us eternal life.
- Salvation can also be like the HIGHEST Judicial verdict. God is the highest judge – higher than any human judge in history.
- Romans 8:1~ “There is now no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
- This is the highest declaration. Who shall bring any charge against those whom God has declared righteous? Who or what shall separate us from the love of God? (Romans 8:28-39)
God bless all of us to be clear in our Assurance of Salvation.