Sunday, November 22, 2009

Acts 8 and 9

The book of Acts is so interesting, there is so much activity going on in one book! Here are some of my thoughts from today's reading...

Receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:4-17)
When Philip went to Samaria, he performed many miracles and preached about Jesus. Many people believed and were baptized. INTERESTING DETAIL: The believers did not receive the Holy Spirit until Peter and John came to them and prayed for them.

Why didn't they receive the Holy Spirit at their baptism?
  • This occurred after Jesus had already ascended to heaven... so the Holy Spirit was available to believers already.
  • This occurred after Acts 2 when Peter preached baptism for 1) the forgiveness of sins and 2) the receipt of the Holy Spirit... so the Holy Spirit has been preached.
  • Philip was there, he was an apostle just like Peter and John... so he was able to perform valid baptisms.
  • Perhaps Philip didn't baptize all (or any) of them.
  • Or perhaps he didn't pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit if he did baptize them.
  • This occurred before Acts 10, when Peter received confirmation that salvation--and thus, the receipt of the Holy Spirit-- was not limited to the Jews. So perhaps this occasion occurred in this fashion to emphasize to the apostles--and to us--that salvation is for everyone who is willing to make Jesus the Lord of their lives.
  • Hmm?
Saul (Paul) was blind (Acts 9:1-19)
I have always found the conversion of Saul absolutely fascinating. In Acts 7, Saul had witnessed and approved the murder of Stephen (in addition to the murder of other disciples). Saul must have been so hard hearted, arrogant, cold, etc. To humble him, God blinded Saul for 3 days. Interesting! God could have given him leprosy, or crippled his hands or feet, or given him boils as was Job's case... He could have afflicted Saul with many other conditions.

Why did God choose blindness?
  • Perhaps being blind, Saul was forced to sit still, and in quietness, consider his life... his actions thus far, his heart towards God and people. And God did not restore his sight a day later; Saul's sight was not restored until THREE days later, giving him ample time to sit and think.
  • Perhaps being blind was enough to humble Saul; perhaps being crippled or having leprosy, etc. would not have been as effective or would have been overly much in God's discipline of Saul. And God does not give us more than we can handle. (1 Cor 10:13)
  • Perhaps being blind, Saul was forced to depend on others to lead him... a prelude to depending on God to lead him.
  • Hmm?
God knew exactly what Saul needed to become the most effective disciple, and eventually, the central figure of the book of Acts (aside from Jesus, of course)... and perhaps that was blindness.

Hmm interesting :)


Teena Phamster said...

Tera, you always post great thoughts and provoking questions.

Philip was one of the chosen 7 evangelist sent out to proclaim the Christ. While preaching in Samaria many believed and accepted the word of God. The Jerusalem church assumed the responsibilty of inspecting new evangelistic efforts and the communities of believers they produced.
The reason why they didn't receive the spirit initially was due to verifying legimate 'christians' who believed and were baptize. Also, since the day of Pentacost, those who belonged to Christ also have the holy spirit. But the spirit was not yet been made manifest to the Christians in Samaria by the usual signs (Kingdom study). Luckily this deficiency was now graciously supplied. :-)

As for God blinding Saul for 3 days. It seems to me the number 3 is used a lot by God. 3 is symbolic in many ways. Christ dying and resurrecting in 3 days. I suppose 3 days was enough time and gave him the chance to reflect humbly. Also, blindness is symbolic to how Saul was blinded to Jesus love and power. He was lost and now he can see.

Danger Ashley said...

Not only was Paul blind for 3 days, but he also wasn't eating or drinking.