The Foundation and Preparation for Miracles
The ancestors of Jesus’ generation were no strangers to the miraculous power of God. But their ancestors had to wait a long time to receive the things God promised. An entire generation died talking about promises they never received. Their children entered the Promised Land infected with their parent’s bitterness. Israel wandered away from the God and broke his covenant by worshiping other gods. God severely disciplined them and scattered them among the nations. A remnant returned to the Promised Land determined to obey every law of Moses, but it was little more than rote religion void of sincere love for a God who had been silent for 400 years.
Before Jesus healed bodies, cast out devils and raised the dead, God prepared them to receive miracles by sending John the Baptist to preach repentance.
Following a similar pattern, God prepared the way for the Jews and Gentiles who wanted more than dry religion. He sent Apollos, an educated man with a thorough knowledge of Scripture, to Ephesus.
“He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor, but he knew only the baptism of John.” (Acts 18:24-25)
Apollos spoke “boldly in the synagogue” (Acts 18:26). The same synagogue that asked Paul to stay so they could learn more about God. Aquila and Priscilla heard Apollos preach John’s message of repentance and pulled him aside to enlighten him about the Holy Spirit.
After Apollos left for Achaia to minister in the Corinthian church Paul returned to Ephesus. Before Paul went to the synagogue to quench the Jews thirst for more, he encountered twelve disciples.
“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. (Acts 19:2-6)
God is methodical in the way he deals with us. He first laid the foundation for a great revival through Apollos accurate teaching about repentance. He used Paul to prepare leaders by teaching twelve disciples about the fullness of the Spirit to prepare for the influx of new converts when God did “extraordinary miracles” (Acts 19:11). The stage is set for a powerful revival, but first God must separate the sheep from the goats.
LOG ON NEXT WEEK FOR PART 5: THE BENEFIT OF CONTROVERSY