And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 19:3-5 ESV
It’s important to know “the rest of the story.” Paul Harvey hosted a radio show by that name where he shared little known facts presented as stories. He would usually leave out an important element until the end of his broadcast. Every show ended with a variation of “And that’s the rest of the story.”
Some of you may have never heard about Paul Harvey but you have heard stories told to you. They cause a reaction from you. But things change completely when you get the rest of the story. (Anyone who has ever interacted with children knows exactly what I’m talking about). Your emotions can change from sympathy to anger when you find out all the details.
In Acts 19 Paul finds some followers of Jesus in Ephesus who had only heard part of the story. In verse 2 we find this interesting exchange:
And he (Paul) said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"
And they said,"No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
Talk about not knowing the full details. These committed and faithful followers of God had being doing everything they were taught but never knew of the Holy Spirit’s presence. I’m sure you may wonder, what’s the big deal about that? Well this story becomes clear when Paul helps them, and us, to realize what’s the rest of the story.
And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” (Acts 19:3,4)
These people had experience repentance, turning away from their sin. Like many of us, God had led them to a point of seeing things clearly. They saw the error of sin and the beauty of following God’s way. God had done that work in them. But it seemed like God wanted to do more in them and wants to do more in us.
It says that afterward Paul re-baptizes them in the name of Jesus and they receive the Holy Spirit. There are visible and audible evidences of this. They have finally realized the rest of the story. God’s plan for them not only included repentance and turning away from sin but it included empowering them to do things that they could never do on their own.
So many times, we believe the Christian life is only about repentance - turning away from sin. And we can become fixated on sin management - how to stop doing wrong. But maybe there is so much more to the life Jesus is inviting us to than that. It is not just what we stop doing, it’s about what we start doing - works that we could never do on our own.
If all we focus on is what I do and don't do, we don't have the whole story. But what the power of the Spirit is for beyond giving us victory over sin is to empower us to do things that we could never do on our own. Those things usually have to do with helping and serving others. And that’s the rest of the story.
Challenge for the week: Pray and ask God for the power of the Spirit to show you what He wants you to do for someone else. Then go out and help someone by His power.