Monday, February 17, 2003

Edifier du Jour-Acts 19:1-6(NASB)
1 It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. 2 He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." 3 And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John's baptism." 4 Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus." 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.
No, I'm not going Pentecostal on you today, chill out and listen. There are quite a few people who are trying to follow God but only have a partial view of Him and what He wants for us. Like the disciples here who knew of John but not of Jesus, we've got a lot of people in Christian churches who only get a partial picture of Jesus. For instance, Eileen remarked in the past that she didn't get the concept of grace being part of our salvation, that salvation was a gift that we didn't have to earn; it was something that didn't come from the pulpit or Sunday School in the Presbyterian churches she grew up in. My Methodist church I grew up in didn't stress a personal knowledge of God or a saving faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Those concepts might have been in the church creeds, but they didn't get taught too well. I was talking with Eileen last night about a Presbyterian seminary buddy of hers who'll be graduating with her M.Div. in June; Eileen commented that her friend Ann used to be more comfortable with the Old Testament than the New but that Ann has begun to appreciate the New Testament more as her walk with Jesus deepens. The OT is more collective in its rhetoric, calling for Israel to do a 180, whereas the New Testament is very personal, calling for the individual to repent. While there are plenty of passages of personal piety, corporate piety is more prominent in the OT and easier to swallow for many people. If we're supposed to change, you can let the rest of the body respond to that while you stay in your old habits. If the church is supposed to help the poor, that's the job of the folks of the Samaritan Fund or whatever you call the poverty outreach. One of the speakers at the conference we went to this weekend mentioned that repent doesn't truly mean make a 180; it's better translated from the Greek as "think differently." Yes, we do need to turn away from sin, but we're doing more than giving up the bad things in our lives but changing our paradigm, changing the way we look at things. That might mean moving from a view of God that is collective to one that is individual. It might mean changing from a view of God as an aloof Creator who just watches His creation passively to one who's a hands-on God. If might mean changing from a view that miracles and the supernatural were just first century things to a view that they're twenty-first century things as well. Think differently. If you've gotten into a rut, ask God if you need to get out of it. Craig Biggerstaff mentions his Baptist upbringing and the rote alter calls they had; it isn't just his old Baptist church, the Southern Baptist church I went to in the late 80s had similar pro-forma alter calls even if the sermon wasn't overly evangelistic. The cold formality of the services might have helped make Biggerstaff an agonistic (or at least not an evangelical). Some tradition and structure is good, but others get in the way of what God wants to do.

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