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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Acts 1:12-26 - Preparing for the future

At the moment we are seeing the complex requirements that politicians face as they attempt to prepare for future activities. In Acts 1:13-26, we have a record of how the church prepared for the possession of spiritual power, and Luke informs us of several activities in which they engaged.

They say that a week is a long time in politics and here Luke summarises the behaviour of the Christians during the seven or so days in which they had to wait for the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. Pentecost occurred fifty days after the Passover. Jesus had risen from the dead three days after the Passover, and then he had spent forty days with his disciples. This means that another seven days had to pass before Pentecost. 

The Saviour had told his disciples that they would receive the Holy Spirit in a few days’ time. We can imagine that they would choose to spend these days in a passive type of waiting, assuming that the Lord would keep his promises without their preparation. The passage in Acts 1 makes clear that they spent the few days actively preparing for the event. This does not mean that their preparation affected the sovereign action of their Master as if he would have withheld the coming of the Spirit because they had behaved differently. The Spirit was coming because of Christ’s obedience, not because of their obedience. Rather their behaviour reveals that they realised their responsibility to prepare spiritually for the important event of the arrival of the Spirit.

Luke mentions their general activity (prayer, which we will think about tomorrow) and a particular activity (choosing a replacement apostle to fill the gap left by the apostasy of Judas Iscariot). Under the leadership of Peter, the apostles rectified the situation. There are two lessons that we can take from what happened.

First, they did not let past disappointments hinder them in the work to which they were called. They all knew what had happened to Judas Iscariot. It would have been very easy for them to become despondent through the loss of an important member of their team. Yet they did not. The way in which they were able to deal with past disappointments was to seek guidance from the Bible. Of course, in the case of Judas there was a divine prediction of his betrayal that Peter used in directing them. We will not have a specific prediction about a person who lets us down. Instead we have biblical principles that cover every situation that we will face.

Second, they filled the gap with a capable person. Why did Peter want a replacement for Judas? Peter knew that in a few days the Spirit was coming. The imminent arrival of the Spirit caused him to ensure there would be sufficient manpower when that moment came. As things were, there was no need for Matthias. A congregation of 120 did not need another apostle. Yet Peter realised that it was not sufficient to look only at present needs; he also concluded, no doubt with a sense of divine approval, that they had to be ready and prepared for what was coming. I think this is one of the biggest challenges facing the church at present, to ensure that persons and plans are in place should the Lord send a time of great blessing.

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