Thursday 21 May 2015

Bible Book:

“Also many of those who became believers confessed and disclosed their practices. A number of those who practised magic collected their books and burned them publicly” (vv. 18-19)

Acts 19:1-20 Thursday 21 May 2015

Psalm: Psalm 13


Now the action moves to Ephesus another important coastal city -powerful and full of all sorts of people, ideas and practices. Paulfinds a group of people who are called "disciples" (v. 1), who saythey have been baptized by John the Baptist and who say they havenever heard of the Holy Spirit. So Paul baptizes the people in thename of Jesus, they receive the Holy Spirit and begin to prophesy(verse 6).

This anecdote reveals that the 'disciples' in the early Churchwere a motley lot - believing many different things and having hadquite different experiences. Despite Paul's teaching and that ofthe other apostles, people held some bizarre beliefs mixed up withtheir faith in Christ. We would do well to expect the same sort ofmixed-up situation in our own day.

Once again, in Ephesus Paul experienced hard-hearted Jews andGod-fearers when he preached in the synagogue. Some even madeallegations against the Jesus "Way" (verse 9). So he left and wentand preached for two years in an ordinary hall to anyone who wouldcome. The power of the gospel was displayed in many ways duringthat time, especially when those who came to believe threw awayeverything to do with the magic they had been practising (verse18).

To Ponder

  • Have you become aware of people who hold what might be regardedas 'irregular' beliefs in your Christian community? Do you thinkthat is okay or not? What if anything, might be done, could orshould be done about such strange mixtures of beliefs?
  • "Burning books" (v. 18) is a very dramatic and symbolic actionshowing a person's rejection of their 'old' life. How bland (ornot) are our rites of welcome and initiation into the faith?
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