Just as it is in all things, it matters what you know in Christianity. In our text, we find Paul working with some of the disciples of John the Baptist. They were good men. They were believing men. I want you to know- they were born again men. I set that preface as to not confuse you with the remainder of this post. When it comes to being born again children of God it matters not what you know, do, say, believe, or pray. Scripture is plain that the work of regeneration is instant, and a complete work of God's grace through the Holy Spirit. However, Paul asks them a question that matters. Have they received the Holy Spirit. Being disciples of John, they knew Jesus and His purpose of being here. They knew He was the Son of God. They knew many things and many of them had even met Jesus, see Matthew 11 and Luke 7. John was even careful to teach them how to pray. So much so that Jesus' disciples came to Him asking to be taught this as John's disciples were (Luke 11:1). However, in talking with them, Paul noticed something about them. Perhaps their speech gave them away. Maybe something they did tipped him off. Whatever the case may be he noticed their knowledge and, there-by, their experience lacked a major gift of being a child of God.
When Jesus was close to leaving this world, He had a serious discussion with His closest disciples. We find much of this recorded in the book of John chapters 14-17. He lets them know in plain language that He is leaving, and where He is going this time they can't follow. He tells them in this conversation that He will not leave them comfortless- aren't you glad of that! He will send the Holy Ghost to comfort them (John 14:16-17). To guide, strengthen, and teach them as He has been doing. We find in Acts when this takes place in its fullness. And, by Paul's question here, we know that this gift is not for the Apostles alone. Every child of God has access to and the ability to receive the Holy Ghost in their lives. When Paul asks them this question they admit that they have never even heard of such a Spirit. Now comes why I put the preface. Paul was not asking if they are born again. Paul is not asking if they need saved. Paul is not asking for them to prove that they are saved. In regeneration, we know by Scripture, that the Holy Spirit takes up His abode in every child of grace (1 Cor 3:16, Gal. 4:6, Ez. 37:14, Titus 3:5-6). However, they had yet to experience Him truly affect their lives. Paul didn't want that for them. He wanted them to know what they had access to in in their lives, as do I. Much of the New testament is devoted to the importance of the Holy Spirit in the child of God's life. Do you know what He can do for you? Paul quickly corrects that missing piece of knowledge and their lives are changed for the better at that moment. Why is that?
We find in Scripture that the born again child of God has a dual nature. The flesh, or old man, that is not changed in regeneration. Then, there is the inner man, or new creature, that is born in righteousness and true holiness. We find in Romans chapter 7 that we are constantly fighting with ourselves over this. We also find in 1 Cor. 14:32 that the spirit is subject unto the flesh. This is true in the prophets and every child of grace. Our spiritual life can, and is, held back by what we do or do not know. This is why it is so important to study, to read the Scriptures daily, to find and attend a bible believing and teaching church, and to yoke up with others that will sharpen our knowledge of God. The more we know of Him the more we can experience Him. Let me quickly point out here by doing this we are not empowering God. He needs nothing from us and is not controlled by us. However, we are a stiff necked, stubborn, rebellious people, and we want nothing more than to prove we need no one. This has been true from the life of Adam and will be true to last human of earth. We will not depend on, seek, or ask for help until we know someone can do it better. This is why Paul asked the question. And, I ask you the question, how much do you really know? How much do you want to know? Have you experienced or received the gift of the Holy Ghost in your life? Study and get to know Him and see if it doesn't change your life.
God bless you all and please feel free to comment or contact me with questions.