Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Acts 8:14-17


Summary retelling of Acts 8: 14-17:

The apostles in Jerusalem have heard about Philip’s work in Samaria.  And to be honest, they can’t believe that the Samaritans – half-Jews at best – are receiving access to God without becoming fully Jewish first.  To check out what is going on, the apostles send Peter and John to investigate.  When Peter and John arrive, they find the account to be true and they pray over the new disciples and ask that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  They lay hands on them and they do receive the Holy Spirit.

Thoughts for Today:
First Thought:
It is really a big deal that the Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit.  Up until now, in order to become a Christian you had to become a Jew first.  Here, we don’t see any mention of them converting to Judaism.  The Samaritans were a people who had Jewish roots, but they had forsaken true Judaism and mixed in the religions of the Canaanites, Persians, Greeks, and other nationalities in the area.  What we see here in Acts is the first step that the early church has to take in order to accept the fact that God can even embrace the Gentiles – a people who have absolutely nothing in common with the Jews.

Have you ever thought about the fact that you didn’t have to convert to Judaism to believe in Jesus?  What does that really mean?

Second Thought:
Here we find that the Holy Spirit plays an important role in the process of becoming a follower of Jesus.  The reception of the Holy Spirit is what “seals the deal.”  The reception of the Holy Spirit is the only proof we have of God’s presence within us.  The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our salvation until we receive the promise in the life to come.

As important as the Holy Spirit is to the life of a Christian, can you say for certain that you have the Holy Spirit within you?  How do you know?

Third Thought:
Today we see a picture of baptism, and in this case baptism clearly comes before the reception of the Holy Spirit.  This is an important fact to note.  There are groups who believe and teach that baptism must be a response to salvation.  Baptism is indeed a response, but it is not necessarily a response to a person’s salvation.  Rather, baptism is a response to God’s promise of salvation.  We baptize because God has promised to save those who genuinely believe that salvation only comes from Him.

Can you remember your baptism?  Given what I’ve spoken about the point of baptism, is this even an important question to ask?  If being able to remember your baptism isn't important, what might be important about baptism?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 8:18-19
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