David Pawson "Unlocking the Bible" -Acts Part 2
Thoughtful Thoughts 21.10.16
“Man-made or God-made?”
Paul was in prison, awaiting his first trial, when Luke wrote “Luke” and “Acts” to a person with a legal title, “Most Excellent”. The first book, “Luke”, explained how the story of Jesus started. Then, “Acts” explained how the story continued after the followers of Jesus saw Him return to heaven.
In Acts, we see how the apostles created communities of believers, where they looked after each other – sharing what they had so that everyone in that community had their needs met by others in that community. That community was called the church, and in Antioch on-lookers nicknamed the individuals as “Christians” for the first time. Paul set out rules for those who should receive help as being the widows, the poor and the orphans. Money was not given to the leaders. (If churches sent out Evangelists though, then the church was responsible for meeting their physical needs.)
Peter was often a spokesman in the first half of Acts, but that changes as the story developed. Luke explained how Paul joined that community of believers and how he became the main evangelist and teacher. Peter preached largely to the Jews. Paul started by preaching to the Jews but ended up preaching largely to the Gentiles. (For example, we have the letters of Jesus to the seven churches, in Revelation 2 & 3). The gospel spread further and further after Paul was converted, so how did this expansion happen? Well, it is all revealed in the book of Acts.
The late Rev. Roland Allan who had originally been a high church Anglican vicar, changed his thinking as his Bible caused him to become more and more Biblical. To start with, he lost his job as vicar because he moved away from christening - to believer’s immersion, (or ‘baptizo’). This caused him to retire to Kenya where he started writing. He started writing about what he had discovered in the book of Acts by authoring “Missionary Methods, St Paul’s or ours?”.
Then he followed that up with another book on how the church expanded, by authoring, “The Spontaneous expansion of the Church.”
As he finally understood more and more, he wrote, “The ministry of the Spirit”. These books are abridged now by Paternoster Press, entitled, “the Compulsion of the Spirit”, for those wanting further study.
The point of going into all this detail is to show where we can go to learn from other people’s insights. It can save us wasting time if we learn from other’s mistakes.
Theological Colleges will share whatever degree of wisdom which they may or may not have, which those students then repeat to others. And on it goes. Roland Allan can help us learn from what he discovered, before we too waste our life sustaining man made structures.
Another vicar, Richard Thompson was almost at retirement when he learned that the Holy Spirit was for right now. I heard him repent publicly in his church following his visit to Jackie Pullinger, for misleading the church with his teaching on the Holy Spirit. My father who had known Richard Thompson never did learn that lesson and so it was almost bereft of conversions. Well, the Book of Acts can help direct us to do things God’s way instead of the religious way.
In Acts we learn about the Kingdom of God, the name of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit. It is from the book of Acts that we learn that to become “Born Again”, four things happened. People repented of their sins, believed in the Lord Jesus, were immersed in water, and received the Holy Spirit. (The first example of many is in Acts 2.38).
If we want our church to be one that is God made, we should follow what Jesus established – where Jesus said the Holy Spirit would replace Him on earth; – see Acts1:4-8. Some churches either appoint men with the title, ‘in the place of Christ on earth’, or do it anyway without drawing attention to its man made nature, as in Rev. 3.14-22. What kind of church will we choose…man-made or God-made?
I’m John Dunning and that’s “Thoughtful Thoughts” for another week.