Laying on Hands, Part 3 – Acts 8:14-24

The Laying On Of Hands Also Imparts The Holy Spirit

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”

Delayed Delivery

There are several ways that the Holy Spirit comes upon people:

  1. Through the Holy Spirit’s action
  2. Through Jesus’ action
  3. Through the Father’s action
  4. The laying on of hands by disciples of Christ

There are interesting things about these cases.  When Jesus breathed on the disciples, they had received the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit did not come upon them IN POWER until Pentecost.  In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God came upon those whom He chose, and could leave when He desired.  That is most likely why David wrote in Psalm 51:11 :

Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

But what is even more interesting in this passage is that these believers had believed on The Lord Jesus Christ, been baptized into The Lord Jesus Christ, but had not yet received the Holy Spirit!  It was by the laying on of hands that these New Testament believers received the Holy Spirit.  It should be noted that Cornelius and all who were present received the Holy Spirit in power without the laying on of hands when Peter came to visit them.  In the New Covenant that Jesus gave to us, the Holy Spirit is a down-deposit of our inheritance in Christ.  He cannot, and will not, ever leave us nor forsake us.

Immense Impact

In each case, it wasn’t until the Holy Spirit came upon each person IN POWER that they were able to be fully utilized by God.  The church today appears to believe that we merely just “need to believe” upon The Lord Jesus Christ to receive the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14).  This passage in Acts, however, indicates that this is not always the case.

Before even the disciples could do anything, they needed to wait until Pentecost, having already received the Holy Spirit from Jesus, BUT NOT IN POWER.  As a believer in Christ, who has had the Holy Spirit come upon you IN POWER, YOU also have the ability to impart the Holy Spirit upon believers if He has not come upon them, and they believe.

If you do not believe that the Holy Spirit has come upon you yet, and you have believed upon The Lord Jesus Christ, ask your church leadership to lay hands upon you so that you also can receive the Holy Spirit.  And pray that the Spirit of God who then indwells you would come on you IN POWER.

Elementary Education

Paul notes in Hebrews 6:1-3 that one of the elementary teachings of the faith is the laying on of hands.  As disciples of Christ, we should be familiar with this teaching, and as such, this should be taught to ALL disciples of Christ by the church.  It is difficult to move on to more advanced subjects without taking the time to learn the basics.  Trying to understand calculus without learning addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication is a fool’s errand.

When the church fails to properly disciple believers, believing that it is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to properly educate each believer (which He does…), we open the door to generations of believers who are ill-prepared to take on the enemy and may become a hindrance rather than a help to the church (observe how many disciples of Christ are not walking in the gifts of the Spirit that He has provided to them!).  Paul went to great lengths to teach the believers about these things so that they would be empowered to do the work that God had chosen for them before the foundation of the world.

When we don’t take the time to disciple the church (not only the elementary spiritual truths of the Bible, but also the advanced ones as well) new believers (and even seasoned believers) may not be properly equipped to do what God has called them to do.  In the same way, you wouldn’t just give collegiate-level textbooks to a 13-year-old and tell them to read the books and come back to take their baccalaureate test.  You would provide them with the foundational education necessary, send them to classes with teachers who are able to teach the subjects, and then provide them with tutors if required.  If we do this for secular teaching (which has temporary rewards), why would we not do this for Spiritual teaching (which has eternal rewards)?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I seeking to be discipled, and discipling where I am qualified?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for Your word.  Thank You for Your Holy Spirit, who leads me into all truth.  Thank You for the body of Christ who help me grow and keep me accountable.  Thank You for Your love, patience, mercy, and provision in all things.  Thank You for the wonderful Gifts Your Spirit has given to me to use for Your glory.  Please help me to understand the spiritual truths that I may not know, and to walk in Your gifts.  Help me to grow in knowing who You are, and exhibiting Your character to all that I encounter.  Grant me wisdom to seek out others who can fill in the gaps in my knowledge, and I pray that Your Spirit would energize the leadership of the body of Christ to grow closer to You, learn the elementary and deeper spiritual truths, and to be faithful to teach the body so that we would be a holy people empowered to do all that You desire us to do.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Holy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

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