Commentary on "Let the Church Know"
Day 4: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - The Importance of Reporting
Today the author is still trying to get SDA members to see the value of filling out reports.
Not only that, but he is trying to convince the reporters that they have a RESPONSIBILITY to "convey the excitement and joy of success that come from being involved in the reporting." He is trying to convince the reporters to be joyful and excited.
This makes me ask: "What if they ARE NOT actually joyful and excited? Are they supposed to fake it? How excited can you be when you are witnessing about raw food potlucks and veganism instead of Christ and His completed atonement and powerful resurrection? Having the entire SDA church spend seven days on the subject of reporting makes me think that the members aren't doing too good a job of it. (After reading all the countless details and rules involved in these reports I would venture to guess that this might be true!)
Hallelujah! After 4 days, there is FINALLY a mention of the Holy Spirit! Guess how many times He is mentioned? (See answer at bottom of the page.)
The author asks, "If we remove all REPORTS of evangelistic activity from the book of Acts, what exciting and encouraging information would we miss that is provided in the following verses?"
MY question is, "If we remove all the accounts of the working of the Holy Spirit, all mentions of the cross and Christ's resurrection from the book of Acts, what exciting and encouraging information would we miss that is provided in the following verses?"
The author states a truth when he says that "the amazing church growth that is reported in the book of Acts did not simply happen." But then he goes and ruins it by saying that the believers "were focused on what THEY wanted to achieve and on how best to achieve it." Tell that to Philip in his encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch.
Not all cases of guidance by the Holy Spirit are as dramatic as what happened to Phillip. I'd like to share a wonderful passage by Wayne Grudem from his book "Systematic Theology" (pg. 642, 643) :
"Scripture talks rather about a day-to-day guidance by the Holy Spirit--being "led" by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18), and walking according to the Spirit (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:16). Now it is possible to understand Paul here to be referring only to obedience to the moral commands of Scripture, but this interpretation seems quite unlikely, especially since the entire context is dealing with emotions and desires which we perceive in a more subjective way, and Paul here contrasts being led by the Spirit with following the desires of the flesh or the sinful nature.
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh...Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger....But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. (Gal. 5:16-26)
The contrast between "desires of the flesh" and "desires of the Spirit" implies that our lives should be responding moment by moment to the desires of the Holy Spirit, not to the desires of the flesh. Now it may be that a large part of responding to those desires is the intellectual process of understanding what love, joy, peace (and so forth) are, and then acting in a loving or a joyful or peaceful way. But this can hardly constitute the whole of such guidance by the Spirit because these emotions are not simply things we think about; they are things we also feel and sense at a deeper level. In fact, the word translated "desires" (Gk. epithymia) is a word that refers to strong human desires, not simply to intellectual decisions. Paul implies that we are to follow these desires as they are produced by the Holy Spirit in us. Moreover, the idea of being "led" by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:18) implies an active personal participation by the Holy Spirit in guiding us. This is something more than our reflecting on Biblical moral standards, and includes an involvement by the Holy Spirit in relating to us as persons and leading and directing us."
One more comment on a statement in the lesson regarding the "early missionaries" ("Because of the reported and recorded results, we can ASSUME that they also issued powerful invitations to their hearers."): Has the author of these lessons never read the powerful words of Peter in Acts 2: 14-40? The preaching and invitations of Paul and the other apostles? There's no "assuming" about it!
Today's lesson statistics:
SOURCE OF POWER FOR SUCCESSFUL WITNESSING AND CHURCH GROWTH
REPORTING: MENTIONED 12 TIMES
RELYING ON THE HOLY SPIRIT: MENTIONED ONE TIME
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