The 23rd Chapter of the Book of Acts

 IMG_0132 by blandocal

Here’s a class that is one of my favorites.  It is definitely not the picture of the Christian faith that you hear about in a lot of churches. It is a brutally honest accounting of the way things were, the way things are, and the way God acts for His purposes, using all things to accomplish His will…including us.

I put it up in piece meal, so you can listen to it in sections, if you wish. If you’d like the whole thing together in one shot, send me an e-mail letting me know and I’ll put it up that way for you as well.

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Acts #1                    Acts #9

Acts #2                   Acts #10

Acts #3                   Acts #11 

Acts #4                   Acts #12

Acts #5                   Acts #13

Acts #6                   Acts #14

Acts #7                   Acts #15

Acts #8                   Acts #16

 

       Acts 23 entire class

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 Thanks to flickr and blandocal, for the photo.

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9 Responses

  1. I’ll put these on my MP3 player, so they can accompany me on my walks. Blessings!

  2. That is great, Petra.

    Great to hear from you, as always!

    Blessings to you, as well!

  3. Great message… but I’m a little confused now. It seems after reading/understanding our “freedom in Christ” and that Christ’s yoke is easy this messages seems to take that away. Before hearing this message I was ‘free’ to serve Christ in my vocation/husband/father and life in general and now I’m “not worth my Christian weight” unless I get out and do something beyond my ‘comfort zone.’ I might as well stay in my current Southern Baptist denominational church and continue to attempt to live the victorious christian life with their exhortations to live a holy life. After this message I feel horrible for being born in an affluent nation… again. Any thoughts as to what I’m misunderstanding?

  4. Actually, Mitchell, you are free to do whatever it is you want to do, as a Christian.

    I don’t want to speak for Pastor Mark (who gave the class) but I believe he was saying that you are free to do so (step outside your comfort zone) and you don’t need to worry about messing up, or not being able to rise to the occassion, because God will be there in whatever it is you want to do.

    The reality is that you DON’T HAVE TO do anything.
    But now that you don’t HAVE TO, isn’t there something that you WANT TO do?

    And it doesn’t have to be anything so radical as the woman who dropped everything and went to Africa to be a missionary. It could be anything at all, large or small. I’m sure you are already doing things, and many of them, you may not even realize (I think those are the best ones, if we can even talk that way – you know, “when I was hungry you feed me…” – “when did we do that?”).

    I think the message here would rightly fall under the heading of Christian encouragement. You are certainly free now to go and love you neighbor. The vertical realtionship is secured by Christ. Now you are free for service on the horizontal plane. NO specifics given as to what that should be (examples of what it could be).

    But I do know what you mean. I too, have felt (in the past) pressure to go and do. Is it pressure, or is it inspiration and the old Adam in us is fighting it? Sometimes that pressure, perceived or imagined, could be as a result of the preacher blurring a bit too much the line between law and gospel. It’s not an easy thing to do (separate law and gospel) every time, and even those that are good at it, may go a little heavy to one side or the other.

    Just realize, and believe that you ARE free to do as much, or as little as you want to do. I do think it will be a mixed bag for most of us. Sometimes we’ll want to set the world on fire for Jesus, and maybe other times we’ll sit back and watch ‘Leave it to Beaver’ re-runs (or whatever).

    I hoped that helped a bit.

    • Steve,
      Thank you for the reply. My wife and I were discussing this very issue yesterday evening. She is a practitioner and has much of her time devoted to that area of her life. By the time she is wife, mother, or friend she says she feels guilty for not giving more time to God. I told her that it seems part of our freedom in Christ releases her from this demand that she feels to perform for God and now her service to her neighbor is commendable before God because of Christ. Is this how Lutherans would look at vocation?

  5. “Christ releases her from this demand that she feels to perform for God and now her service to her neighbor is commendable before God because of Christ.”

    Very well said, Mitchell.

    Yes, and it is even moe liberating because we are to have no expectations from it (our service to our neighbor). God is pleased with us before we start the day…because of Christ.

    And wherever we serve, if it at work providing goods or a service to the public, or whatever, God uses it for His purposes and His glory. Without even opening our mouth we are doing His will, but we look for opportunities to put in a good word about our Lord to those around us (and there are plenty) who need what He gives.

  6. http://www.nwmnsynod.org/NorthernLights/Vocation.March.pdf

    I found this about vocation. You and your wife may enjoy it. There’s a couple of good quotes from Luther in it.

  7. Mitchell, Allow me to chime in here, since Steve has been gracious enough to post my material.
    The Lutheran Reformation really turned the medieval understanding of vocation it’s head. Up to that time, ‘religious’ vocations were superior to all others. (We still see this in how many Protestants think of the pastoral office or missionaries as being engaged in ‘full-time Christian work’. ) But Luther saw forgiveness and justification as restoring us not for religion or spiritual achievement but for creation, for life in the world, as we await His kingdom. Luther had a very down-to- earth view of the Gospel in this regard. For him the spiritual life belongs to Christ alone. He baptizes us into His righteousness and keep us in His grip all throughout life, constantly picking up the debris of our past and opening the future according to His purposes. Therefore, we are free to live our creaturely existence, really free, since the good we do will not save us and the evil we do will not condemn us. We often can’t distinguish between them anyway. It is for this reason that for Luther (and Paul before him) the mainspring of Christian living is ‘Faith active in love.’ It is not so much that we are doing for God as it is that He is making use of us – in the midst of whatever choices we make. Christians can be confident of this. St. Paul expressed it when he wrote “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.” This kind of Christian life can go forward into the day, taking up it’s opportunities and responsibilities without self consciousness, trusting only in Christ. That’s freedom.

    Grace to you!

    • Thank you Mark for responding! The more removed I get from my Southern Baptists (SB) roots the more I see it’s legalistic tendencies. For the SB one has 2 full-time occupations… your vocation and being a christian. Frankly, we are absolutely worn out. If ‘persevering in the faith’ is taking part in all of the SB extra-curricular activities I’m doomed. I listen to one of your messages each day on this website and they are ‘freeing.’ Thank you (you and Steve) for your heart and service to me and my family here in Texas.

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