How Do I Know?

Acts 19:1-7 

1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 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.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 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.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

Success Granted

There are many things that are out of our control. We don’t know what to expect. We don’t know what to prepare for but we have to do something about it.

When Abraham sent His chief servant, the manager of his household to get a wife for Isaac, the servant prayed and testified about his personal experience.

In Genesis 24:42-46, 42 “When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. 43 See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,” 44 and if she says to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.’

45 “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’

46 “She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also.

The Lord heard and answered the prayer from the heart of Abraham’s servant.

Jesus as the way of our life is more obvious when uncertainties come our way. In John 14:6, Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

If we have the way to heaven in Jesus, we can easily find ways in Jesus to solve problems, struggles, or any inconvenience we may encounter in this life.

It takes discernment to understand and follow where the Lord leads us.

1.  Discernment

1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 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.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul was a missionary and he did not stay in one place for extended time. He was always on the move. He travelled from place to place to visit churches. He travelled by sea. He also travelled by land until he came back to the city of Ephesus where he left Aquila and Priscilla.

Did the Holy Spirit give discernment to Paul for him to visit Ephesus? How did Paul deem it necessary to check the faith of some believers? How did Paul learn that some believers did not know about the Holy Spirit? How did Paul know that asking about baptism was a significant question?

Did anyone tell Paul that some of the believers did not know much about Christ? Did Aquila and Priscilla write or tell Paul that those believers who did not know about the Holy Spirit were followers of Apollos?

Let us recall Acts 18:26…  26 Apollos began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

Is it possible that those who didn’t know the Holy Spirit were Apollos’ followers?

It is possible and Apollos was not able to teach them what Aquila and Priscilla taught him because he left Ephesus and went to Achaia and ended up in Corinth.

When Luke mentioned that Apollos was in Corinth when Paul visited Ephesus, it appears like Luke implied the unfinished work of Apollos among the Ephesians. Did the Holy Spirit bring Paul to Ephesus to follow-up the work of Apollos? How did Paul discern the need to follow-up the spiritual life of the Ephesians?

In 1 Corinthians 1:30, 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Wisdom from God is available to all believers. The Holy Spirit is very much willing to help us understand things beyond our comprehension. God provides necessary things we need to live a righteous life acceptable to Him. The Holy Spirit’s work in our life is to set us apart and to bring glory to God.

Services acceptable to God are possible only through the help of Christ. God prefers only the services of those whose hearts are willing to obey.

Gideon

In Judges 7:2-8, The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”

So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.

God did not choose those who were in doubt—those who trembled and have fears. God chose 300 out of 32,000 men to go to battle with Gideon. It was with God’s power and not by their effort that the Israelites had conquered their enemy.

Do you agree that praying is also a battle ground for Christians?

If praying is our battle ground as a church, then God prefers to have few prayer warriors who are willing over thousands who have fears and doubts.

Coming to prayer meeting is our deference—it’s a believer’s respectful submission to the Lordship of Christ not submission to the influence of people.

2.  Deference

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.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

The work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Ephesian believers was very obvious. They did not challenge nor argued what Paul told them. In their obedience and deference, they willingly underwent through water baptism in Jesus’ name. Speaking in tongues and prophesying were the most apparent and immediate result of being filled with the Holy Spirit in the 1st century.

Why did Luke need to mention that there were 12 men who were baptized? Was it to relate them to the 12 original Disciples of Christ because Paul was teaching about Christ? Was it because he accompanied Paul in his travels and [Luke] personally counted the men and witnessed what happened?

When the Holy is actively at work in our life, we have deference, respectful submission, and obedience to yield to the will of our Lord Jesus. Our deference, intentional submission, or obedience to God is not easy because our human nature is limited and we fall short in our understanding to His will.

We should always be conscious to seek the help of the Spirit of Christ in us. We may not understand everything, words cannot explain the joy and peace we have as we face uncertainties of following the Lord Jesus completely.

Thomas Didymus (Twin)

In John 11: 6-8, 6So when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

We can read in John 11:14-16, 14 So then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Was Thomas really willing to die or he just expressed his frustration? Did Thomas have stronger faith than the other disciples?

Remember that all the disciples ran away when Jesus was arrested.

Later, after Jesus resurrected, He appeared to the disciples but Thomas was absent.

In John 20:24-29, 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Thomas is an Aramaic name translated in Greek Didymus and in English the Twin.

True to his name, the Twin, Thomas expressed faith by his willingness to die with in the Lord but he also showed his little faith by requiring proofs that Jesus is alive.

What have you actually believed in the Lord? How much do you know about Him as the Way? Have you proven that Jesus can give you ways of solving problems? How do you really know that Christ is leading or is in control of your life?

In difficult situations—problems in parenting, studies, career, health, finance, or relationship, we know it’s not easy but there’s joy, peace, and hope for the better.

That hope that everything will turn out good for us comes from the Lord.

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