( Acts 19:1-7 )
“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ So they said, ‘Into John's baptism.’ Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all.”
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Even for Christians, this question is very unfamiliar. The Apostle Paul asked the above believers in Jesus whether they received the Holy Spirit when they first believed, and then testified to them how they, who had believed in Jesus without receiving the Holy Spirit, could receive the Spirit. In the above passage, by once again bearing witness to the power of the baptism of Jesus, Paul renewed their faith.
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper region of the Asia Minor, came to Ephesus, and finding some disciples, he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” The congregation of the Ephesian Church had been completely ignorant of the truth that they receive the Holy Spirit when they believe in Jesus. Paul then asked them, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered that they were baptized into John’s baptism.
Paul, in other words, asked the congregation, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed in Jesus?” This is the difference between Paul and ordinary Christians, and it is also the very difference between those who know the mystery of the baptism of Jesus and those who do not. On the Holy Spirit that one receives when he/she believes in Jesus, the believers at the Church of Ephesus said, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” By this, they meant, “How could we have received the Holy Spirit when we haven’t even heard about Him at all?” To them, who did not know the mystery of the baptism that Jesus received, the truth of receiving the Holy Spirit was completely new.
They Should Have Known And Believed in the Baptism That Jesus Received
Hearing that they were only baptized into John’s baptism alone, Paul then explained the relationship between the baptism of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They therefore believed again in the meaning of the baptism that Jesus Christ received. Like this, there is a huge difference between believing in Him while knowing the meaning of the baptism that Jesus received from John and just believing in Him without this knowledge.
What, then, is the baptism that John gave to people? John told people to repent. This means that he told them to turn away from their sins and return to God. The baptism that John gave was only a baptism of repentance that made people repent. But the baptism that Jesus received from John in Matthew 3:13-17 was received to fulfill all the righteousness of God, and therefore this was different from John’s baptism of repentance. The baptism that Jesus received from John was the baptism to take upon all the sins of mankind. Like this, their faith was different from the faith of Paul, for the baptism that they received was of not knowing the whole picture of the truth.
What, then, does the baptism that fulfilled all the righteousness of God mean? It means that by being baptized, Jesus took upon all the sins of mankind, from the sins of Adam to the sins of the very last people of the end of humanity.
Matthew 3:15 says, “But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him.”
God’s righteousness could be attained in the baptism that Jesus received and within the faith that believes in the blood of the Cross.
Why, then, must we be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ? It is because we believe in our hearts that Jesus took all the sins of the world upon His own body by being baptized by John. Therefore, those whose hearts have been forgiven of all their sins by believing in the baptism of Jesus Christ and the blood of the Cross must receive the water baptism again by faith. Why? Because by the faith in His baptism, all the sins in their hearts are now blotted out perfectly, and thus become sinless. This is why Paul explained Jesus’ baptism again to those who had not received the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel of Power, of the Holy Spirit, and of Much Assurance
Jesus did not just say in words, “Just believe in me. I am the Savior. If you believe, all your sins will then disappear.” Rather, by being baptized, Jesus actually accepted everyone’s sins of the world once and for all, and took them all upon Himself. Jesus actually received the baptism from John, and by doing so He actually accepted the sins of the world passed onto Him, went to the Cross, and bore the punishment of sin. His suffering on the Cross made Him shed all the blood that was in His heart. And He rose from the dead again in three days. With His baptism and blood, He has made all the sins of the world disappear, and He has given the Holy Spirit to those who believe as a gift. Jesus is the Savior who has blotted out the sins of the world, and He has given us the gospel of the water and the Spirit that enables us to receive the remission of sin. The baptism of Jesus Christ and the blood of the Cross, in other words, have enabled those who believe to receive the Holy Spirit.
To save sinners from their sins, Jesus was actually born unto this earth through the body of a woman. When He turned 30, He did in fact take all the sins of mankind upon Himself by being baptized. It is because of this that He could be crucified while carrying all these sins of the world and shed all His blood onto the ground. And by rising from the dead again, Jesus has become the actual Savior for those of us who believe in Him. Do you believe in this truth? Isn’t this truth somewhat different from what you had believed before? There is a clear difference, and this is why you must believe in the water and the Spirit from now on. This small difference is what enables and disables people to receive the remission of sin and the Holy Spirit.
The gospel of the water and the Spirit did not just come in words, but it actual came with power. What more can we say? When Jesus accepted the sins of the world passed onto Him through His baptism, was condemned on the Cross, and rose from the dead, we cannot but believe in this. When the Almighty Jesus blotted out all the sins of the entire world with His baptism once and for all, and when He shed His blood, do we then become righteous only by following the Doctrine of Incremental Sanctification? We do not! The true gospel is the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Before I met the gospel of the water and the Spirit, that is, when I believed only in the blood of Jesus, so-called the gospel was merely an empty story. However, when I believed in the true gospel of the water and the Spirit, and from then on, the gospel in my heart have given me great conviction and power. Paul also states, “Our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” When you believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you will receive the Holy Spirit.