In this sermon by Paul Langham from Christ Church Clifton, Paul talks about Acts 19.
He speaks about the validation of scripture through historical and geographical records, and encourages the listener to be baptised not simply with the baptism of John, but with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Paul urges the listener to use both the natural wisdom, skill and reason God has given them and also remain attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Paul Langham states that Gospel people should build lives that are exclusively set apart for Christ.
He states that when the gospel is preached in the book of Acts, God steps alongside the messenger and confirms with signs and wonders. He asks the question "Should we expect our proclamation today to be backed up by similar demonstrations of power"? He states that for the apostle Paul the key question in his ministry is "What baptism have you received? Did you receive the Spirit when you believed?"
Paul concludes his talk by looking at Acts 10:44. He highlights that in some churches there is an incorrect theology that says there is a two-fold stage to becoming a christian: 1. You accept Jesus, then 2. at a further date you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Paul suggests that the correct theology is one that says as people confess their sins and accept Jesus as their Saviour, it is then that the Holy Spirit falls upon them.
Paul challenges the listener to ask the question "Have you fully understood and experienced what the Holy Spirit comes to do and what God wants to bring to you?"
A further time of response is then introduced, in which the listener is encouraged to experience more of God by asking the Holy Spirit to come and minister to them.
Questions for further thought
Q1: How important is it to you that the bible records are reliable, and that they are validated by independent historical evidence?
Q2: what door(s) is the Lord opening to you in terms of witness? What opposition do you face? Talk about this in the group and pray for one another.
Q3: Does superstition play any role in the lives of people you know? How can you guide them away from that to the truth of Jesus Christ?
Q4: How can we ensure that our own witness is centred on Jesus? How can we explain our belief that the death of this one man, whom we believe to be God, can set people free from sin, guilt and shame, set them right with God and guarantee them eternity with him?
Q5: How can we most effectively use the natural wisdom, skill and reason God has given us and yet also remain attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit?
Q6: Should we expect our proclamation today to be backed up by similar demonstrations of power? If not, why not? What evidence is there in scripture which would lead us to believe that these things ceased? If they did, what would it say about the nature of God that he withholds in one generation signs which proved so effective in another?
Q7: What if any experience of spiritual warfare do you have? Have you had any experience of someone oppressed by the powers of darkness? Is deliverance something which you have witnessed?
Q8: What has been your experience of the Holy Spirit since you believed? Has it been positive or not? Does the bible encourage us to expect to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and that this is a positive thing?