I know I should be in bed right now, but I just finished my Sunday school lesson (how to disciple someone on Baptism) and am now reading the passage that will be preached tomorrow. Our Pastor is taking us through the wonderful story in the book of Acts. The Gospel marches forward! Unstoppable! External attacks from Christ’s enemies and internal strife among Christ’s friends are no match for the Lord’s grand and rock solid promise in Matthew 16 to “build my church”[!].
Tomorrow we’ll hear from Acts 6 verses 1-7 –
1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews[a] among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
Here are my questions, when I read this text:
- Does a church automatically have more problems when “the number of disciples” increases?
- How amazing that the church just automatically took care of widows?
- Is there a model for congregational church polity here when the Twelve gather all of the disciples together to decide this matter?
- Do I have any other ground to stand on other than “it wouldn’t be right” when I want to or don’t want to neglect a ministry I’m in? Too often my excuse sounds more like, “I’m not feeling it right now…”
- Is there a difference between being full of the Spirit and being full of wisdom?
- How do we make sure our Pastors are not serving tables and instead “giving their attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word”?
- Does this ministry of the Apostles even apply directly to local church Pastors today?
- Was this the only proposal in the history of the entire church that actually “pleased the whole group”?!
- Is there a difference between being full of faith and being full of the Holy Spirit?
- What did the Apostles pray?
- Why did they lay hands on them?
- Did Luke intend to imply that because of this wildly successful logistics decision, this caused the Word of God to spread and the number of disciples in Jerusalem to spread rapidly?
- What is the significance of many priests becoming obedient to the faith?
I cannot wait to hear the Word tomorrow!