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Receive The Holy Spirit

Acts 8:14-17
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (NIVUK)

The church started in Jerusalem at Pentecost, and grew there as the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles to preach Christ. But Jesus also wanted them to take responsibility in global mission (Acts 1:8). After the persecution which followed Stephen's murder, many believers moved out of the city; some, including Philip the Evangelist, went to Samaria. When he preached the gospel there, many people responded with joy (Acts 8:5-8).

The apostles agreed to send Peter and John to see what the Lord was doing in Samaria. They would have remembered when Jesus had taken them through Samaria to meet a woman at Sychar (John 4:4-42), and many in that town believed in Jesus. When Peter and John arrived, they met people who had been baptised into the Name of Jesus. But the new Christians had not been taught to welcome the Holy Spirit when they repented and believed in Jesus. So Peter and John taught them and laid their hands on them, urging them to receive God's Holy Spirit.

After the resurrection, the Lord Jesus had told the apostles that they must receive the Holy Spirit who would be sent to them (John 20:22). So they had been prepared for Pentecost. But Philip the Evangelist, had not been present at the time. Although he was presumably one of the Pentecost converts, and known to be full of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:3), he did not teach new believers to actively welcome the Spirit. So Peter and John, laid hands on the Samaritan believers assuring them that they should welcome God's Spirit, as equal brothers and sisters to the believers in Jerusalem.

When you share the gospel, tell people about Jesus who died for their sins and was raised to make them right with God. When you do, they often need to be taught how to respond: ‘believe in Jesus, repent of sinful rebellion, be baptised and welcome His Holy Spirit' (Acts 2:38). Do not think you cannot help them; indeed, you may well be the person the Spirit has chosen to lead them to Christ (www.crosscheck.org.uk).

Transforming God. Thank You that the gospel is Your powerful message to save undeserving sinners. I am sorry when I have been ashamed, afraid or felt unworthy to present the gospel. Please fill me again with Your Holy Spirit; and give me the boldness to present the truth about Jesus, urging people to respond and welcome His Spirit. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams