As I read through the book of Acts it’s just fascinating. When people were filled with the Holy Spirit, other people just knew. They could see that something was different. Think about the stories. If you don’t know them, read the book of Acts again. It’s an easy read. Some parts are repetitive – but hey, the same is true of Harry Potter. After the repetitive stuff, it gets really fascinating. There’s the day of Pentecost. The 120 were gathered in the upper room. Had they been baptized into the name of Jesus? Who knows? But everybody could tell there was something wrong with those people – drunk or something. And after Peter’s sermon, he said repent and be baptized into the name of Jesus. And you will receive the Holy Spirit. And I guess they did. Everybody’s lifestyle changed. And later the church is scattered and Phillip the Deacon, Phillip the Evangelist, goes up to Samaria. He preaches. They believe. But it takes a special trip up by Peter and John for the Samaritans to receive the Spirit – and it was so evident that Simon the Magician tried to buy the power. “May your money perish with you…” and all that – trying to buy God’s power with money. Hey, look, it was something that a trained magician knew was real and worth having. Have you seen the Spirit so evident in your church? And then there’s Cornelius, the first official Gentile convert -a Centurian who helped the people and who obeyed God’s angel, humbled himself enough to call on Peter. Invited a bunch of people to hear Peter speak, and the Spirit fell on that group so powerfully that it interrupted Peter’s sermon, and he asked, should we not baptize these upon whom the Spirit of God has fallen.
All I’m saying is that in the book of Acts when someone had the power of the Holy Spirit come upon them they could tell. Maybe this all undergirds a curious instruction by Paul the Apostle to the church in Ephesus. “Be filled with the Holy Spirit…” Because Acts 19 tells us about a time he had met people in that town who had missed out on the Holy Spirit.