The selection in Acts set the stage for Paul’s letter to the Philippians some 2 years later. In Acts, we read about the first visit to Asia by representatives, namely Paul and probably Luke and others in their entourage. They had been traveling along the coast of Asia, but the Holy Spirit at that time had forbidden them to speak the word there. Then Paul had a vision that a man from Macedonia asked that Paul come to Philippi and Paul received the Holy Spirit’s word to go there. We spent some time discussing the woman who proclaimed that Paul and his people were the servants of the most high God who declare to us a way of salvation. She was employed as a soothsayer and had a spirit of Python. Paul told the spirit to come out of the woman and it did, thus ruining her employment because it was because of the spirit that she was a soothsayer. We discussed why this woman was judged to have a spirit when she was proclaiming that the men were from God. Possibly she was making a nuisance of herself and Paul felt she was mocking them. Her employers were so upset that they roused a mob against Paul and his followers and ultimately had them beaten and jailed. The jail was destroyed by an earthquake or God, and Paul did not escape but stayed and converted the jailer. Then we got into a discussion about what it means in verse 31 when Paul said to the jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Some translation used in instead. The Greek would be translated as On. This led to a discussion about whether we go to heaven upon dying or if that happens when Jesus comes in his second time when it says that the dead will be raised up from their graves. We have become like the Jews waiting for their messiah for a long time as we wait for Jesus to come while the early Christians were expecting Jesus imminently. Does this mean that for us the expectation is better than the actual? I don’t think so, but it might mean that we live our lives as if we have realized the second coming and have communion with Christ in our lives. Here is a map of Paul’s journey.
Today we read and discussed Acts 1. Paul starts out talking with Theophilus, whcih means God lover. We are then hear Jesus talking to the disciples about what they should do in this time after He was ressurrected. Then we read of Jesus’ ascension and hear the promise that they will go to heaven in the same as Jesus did. Then follows a discussion of the death of Judas followed by the election of an new disciple to take his place. We had a discussion about why there had to be 12 disciples which led to some comments about numerology in the Bible. There are 12 tribes, 12 foundation piers in the temple in Jerusalem, and there are multiples of 12 like the 72 apostles who were designated to carry the word and life of Jesus to others in the world of that day as well as the 144,000 who are mentioned in Revelations. It is interesting that when the disciples were choosing the successor to Judas, they had two candidates both of whom had been part of Jesus’ entourage and that seemed to be a requirement for being a disciple even though Paul did not fit that description. The two candidates were Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus and Matthias. It says they prayed and asked for the guidence of the Holy Spirit to guide them and then they drew straws and Matthias won. Interesting!!!
We talked about Church membership and whether it should be important at all. John said that we belong to Christ, but are member of the Zion church as an organization. I think we all wonder how to see the work of the Holy Spirit. Some thought that the guidence of the Holy Spirit is evidence in our history, and the choices we have made, while others don’t see any such evidence in their lives. It remains an issue of how we see discernment and how it can guide us. It may mean that we dedicate our lives to Christ and that becomes the guiding force. Mark talked about his times of renewal at the monk’s abbey where he goes to have a silent retreat. He doesn’t talk for 48-72 hours but listens to prayers, scripture and psalms read or sung by the monks. He finds it very useful for renewal.
Despite Bill wanting to add the first 12 verses of chapter 2 to our discussion today, we didn’t go there except for some comments about pentacost and what it meant and how it manifests today, possibly with the growth of pentacostal churches. Since we did the book of Acts as the first book done by Lost Boys, we elected to move on to do Ephesians next.