Friday, August 12, 2011

Early New Testament Church: Lesson 2

I didn't dare post my answers from last week's lesson because they were so rubbish.

We had to read Luke-Acts and our lesson, then answer the questions. These are they:

  1. How have you found it helpful to read Luke-Acts as one story?
  2. Have you discovered any downsides, difficulties or disadvantages to this approach?
  3. How would you define Luke's "theology of reversal"?
  4. Can you give examples of reversal other than those given in the notes?
  5. How would you explain the role of Jerusalem in the story of Luke-Acts?
  6. Evaluate the claim that Luke-Acts is anti-Semitic in tone. (NT502 students only)
  7. Does Luke foresee any future for the Jews as a people, especially in terms of the positive prophecies concerning Israel and Jerusalem in chapters 1-2 of his Gospel? (NT502 students only)
Only the smartypants post grad students had to do 6 and 7 but those questions were still worth a look.

For lesson 2 we had to read the lesson and a portion of our text book. We're using Pentecost to Patmos by Craig. L. Blomberg.

Answers for Lesson 2*
  1. Why was the Book of Acts written?
The book of Acts was written to provide a detailed account of the early Christian Church. But the reasons for the writing of acts diversify into showing multiple aspects of God's redemptive plan and transition from Old to New Covenant. It is not only a good account of these occurrences but it is done with great literary skill and presentation of theological themes which are important to the spiritual understanding of the whole church past, present and future.

If Acts is neither a Gospel nor an Epistle, what kind of literature is it?

Blomberg has noted that it has been suggested Acts is a mixture of genres: a short historical monograph, an ancient intellectual biography, an apologetic historiography and biblical history. Blomberg then finishes by suggesting Acts is best described as a theological history. I believe this definition of a theological history is a beneficial encapsulation of the book of Acts. While being a book of historical occurrences is also able to show the theological and spiritual transition and fulfilment, from the Old Testament and Israel to an “all inclusive” church with Jew and gentile alike. There are various different genres represented within the book which all play an important part in communicating the message which God conveys.
  1. Describe the life of the early church in Jerusalem in the first "panel" of Acts. Was it as idyllic as it is sometimes made out to be?
Although they knew their sovereign God was in control, it was a confusing and unknown time because they were waiting for the Holy Spirit and were finding their feet. Though there was conflict and hardship, it was a great time of blessing, spiritual growth and change.
  1. How do you understand the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira? Why were they dealt with so severely?
It is not severe – we are extended grace and mercy. Each of us deserves the same because we are all guilty before our holy Maker. God is under no compunction to forgive anyone who rebels against Him.  Keeping a promise made to God is very serious indeed (see Joshua 7:10-26 and Judges 11:29-40), and within their lie, Ananias and Sapphira were breaking the promise they had made to the apostles which was effectively to the Holy Spirit. It was then, and is still today, an example of the severity of God.

*I would like it to be noted that Craig is my editor-in-chief and tea-bringer.

Friday, August 5, 2011

One of those weeks. . .

Where nothing really went according to my plans but I'm sure everything was just as God had intended.

Monday: I was still battling with reading through Luke and Acts. It seemed like it was taking forever.
Tuesday: Craig was sick and took the day of work. I Skyped for Greek and I didn't get any study done.
Wednesday: All was well until about 3.30pm when I found the laundry and part of the hall way flooded.
Thursday: I finshed Acts and the lesson, then I waffled through the questions till 10.30pm.
Today: Started to feel sick too.

The second batch of towels

That patch was the wettest

Craig with the water vac

The flooded laundry was rather epic. The water was about 2 inches deep and it was so cold! I get the giggles when I think what my face must have looked like when I put my slippered foot into the laundry and it made a splosh. I "sandbagged" the hallway with towels to help control the spread of the water and dry the sodden carpet. Then I called my father-in-law and he came to fix the pipe. The pipe where water drains from the washing machine had come apart at the joint. The rubber seal inside the joint was in backwards and the trough it sits in isn't fixed to anything. All it took was someone to bump the trough and the pipe ceased to be attached to the joint. It took me over 30 mins to mop up the 3+ buckets of water from the laundry. The water seeped under the walls and into the hallway. I am very grateful the bedrooms and study were spared. Craig borrowed a water vacuum from the cleaner at work and that helped get some of the water out of the carpet.

The affects are still being felt; I haven't managed to wash even half the towels I used. I didn't realise we had so
many. 24 and counting! Useful I will admit and my linen cupboard really needed sorting. God must have killed a flock of birds with one stone. My mother-in-law brought me a basket with most of her towels after I ran out. If I'd realised it wasn't going to rain today I'd have definitely got the washing done. But then I did run out of washing powder after the second wash of towels.

I got thinking about all the reasons why God might have let this happen. I'm certain He was refining us in some way. I kept thinking of funny things. For example a train of thought while I was mopping went something like this: if I just happened to be a dodgy preacher I'd get a "comparison" out of this. Just like after the flood, when the world was beautiful and clean, so too shall my laundry floor be clean - no more mopping for another month! God is good. *Cue cheesy smile with white, shiny teeth and goofy hairstyle, looking straight into the camera* He could be good for you too. He could make your whole house clean. All you need is a dodgy plumbing job, faith as big as a mountain, an IQ as small as a mustard seed, and a check for a ridiculous amount of money in the post to me (only God knows your heart and your bank account), and God will clean your house from top to bottom and make it new like Earth after the flood.

I have no trouble amusing myself.

I feel like my stress level was permanently stuck on "heart attack waiting to happen". Wednesday I felt hopeless, Thursday I felt defeated, today I feel grateful for the week that was. Even though I can't definitely say I know what God wanted me to learn I can say I learned something. If I thought today was bad, tomorrow could be worse, but so long as I am "in Christ" my world won't end. Spiritually it will only get better and better as in this life things get worse and worse. I no longer pray for things to go well or to be easy for how would I be sanctified? I simply ask for God to get me through one day at a time with His grace and mercy.