|Remember that commercial with the inescapable
phrase, “Where’s the Beef?” Those vegetarian baked beans, old fashioned
potato salad, and cole slaw are all quite delicious and nourishing, but
without the beef, it ain’t barbecue.
The truth about Jesus and the message of reconciliation,
when accurately presented, is quite nourishing to the hungry soul. But,
like a barbecue without the beef, something is missing without the Holy
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
We can know about God and Jesus. We can do historical
research and scholarly study of the Scriptures. We can know a great deal
of truth in the form of facts and information. But unless we receive the
Holy Spirit, we can never know God or be known by him. All of our knowledge
is worthless unless the Holy Spirit makes us into a holy place for God
to reside. (Romans 8:9-17; I Corinthians 6:19-20)
They answered, “No, we have not even
heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you
“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 into 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.(Acts 19:1-7)
We can have tremendous intellect, natural
drive, and develop excellent skills which impress other people. We can
achieve success as successful people who live apart from God do. But, if
we want to impress God, we have to realize that our natural strengths,
in which we take pride, are of no consequence to him. The power he offers
is given to those who recognize the weakness and limitations of their physical
minds and bodies.
The disciples that Paul found in Ephesus had
repented; they had changed their way of living and turned to the living
God through Christ. They were believers in Jesus as the Christ. But they
didn’t have “the beef.” They didn’t know about the Holy Spirit. God didn’t
just rely on Paul’s intellectual explanation; he showed them the power
of the Holy Spirit by giving them gifts they could see and hear.
Jesus told us to ask our Father in heaven.
He promised that he would give the Holy Spirit to the children who ask.
(Luke11:9-13) The early church asked and received. Do we think God’s promise
is only for the early church?
“…Now, Lord, consider their threats
and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch
out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through
the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Perhaps, like Timothy, we are timid with our
faith. Perhaps, Paul is saying to us through the Scriptures,
After they prayed, the place where they
were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and spoke the word of God boldly. (Acts 4:29-31)
“For this reason I remind you
to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on
of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit
of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify
about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering
for the gospel by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a
holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own
purpose and grace….” (II Timothy 1:6-9)
Why should he give spiritual gifts to those who
would bloat up with pride like people who eat too much at a barbeque? These
gifts are not given so we can boast about how special we are. God gives
these gifts so the message of salvation can go out to people who are hungry
for the bread of life.
We’ve eaten the bread and taken the cup of
wine in remembrance of the death of Jesus. Now, can we together, as the
early church did, pray to God asking him to fill us with his Spirit so
that we, as they did, are able to speak the word of God boldly? People
are hungry. Let’s put out a table full of the richness of God by asking
for and receiving the powerful gifts of God given by his Spirit.