The Holy Spirit comes on Jesus when he is in the passive state of submitting himself to God’s will in baptism and while he is praying.
The effects of the Spirit in the life of Jesus are evident in what follows: the power to resist the wiles of Satan, the power to recall and apply Scripture, the power to see God’s plan and purposes and to proclaim the Word boldly, the power to withstand hostility, and the power to minister to and heal the oppressed. The Spirit in the lives of believers can do the same things.
This week a heated “Chrislam’’ battle is unfolding in the Catholic Church over Pope Francis’s joint document with Islamic leader Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque, which says the “pluralism and the diversity of religions” are “willed by God in His wisdom”.
Did the God of the Bible, revealed in Jesus Christ, “will” Islam into being and raise up Mohammed as a or the prophet? In 2015 that was certainly the view of Westminster Abbey.
A lot depends on how you answer that question. Right now lives are being lost in attempts to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ among Muslims. Why should we bother if Islam is willed by God and Mohammed is one of his prophets?
When Mark Durie talks about Islam and Christianity, I listen. He’s a leading Christian authority on Islam. He has lived in Indonesia doing linguistic fieldwork among Muslims. He is the pastor of a congregation of muslim background believers in Melbourne, Australia.
His insights are based upon a careful understanding of the key Islamic texts. This series is a must for anyone working among Muslims.
Acts has no purpose, no plot, no structure, and no history without suffering.
Ten years ago I was in Singapore having just left a restricted field somewhere in Asia. I had sought out a couple of guys named “Smith” with a lot of experience in church planting movements to help me make sense of what I was learning.
I will not forget this comment:
We've never seen a church planting movement without persecution.
Suffering and persecution go hand in hand with movements that multiply disciples and churches.
They are the unifying theme of the book of Acts. Without them the command to take the gospel to the ends of the world would never have been fulfilled.
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I’m working my way through the Gospel of Luke at the moment. Luke is keen to anchor his account in history. So he identifies the rulers of the time. But as David Garland points out,
In Luke’s account, the kings and governors play no direct role in the story’s action and serve only as chronological ciphers (see 3:1 –2) or as those issuing decrees from afar (2:1). Busy with their own affairs, they take no note of the birth of John or of Jesus that will turn their world upside down.
The vital characters in the story are unknowns: an ordinary priest and his aging wife; a young peasant girl and a Jewish man, who has to register to pay his taxes; shepherds, a despised class; and two prophets, male and female, who hang out in the temple waiting for God’s intervention.
How preoccupied we become with politics and power. As though they are the ultimate reality. How fearful angry and we have become.
Meanwhile, God is working out his purposes. He has his people in place. Ordinary people, far from the corridors of power.
God laughs at the rulers of this world. He has them in the palm of his hand.
The gospel of the kingdom will be preached as a testimony to all nations,
and then the end will come.
Steve Smith shares his journey with church planting movements. He discusses his latest book, Spirit Walk: The Extraordinary Power of Acts for Ordinary People. Finally, Steve outlines the 24:14 Coalition and answers the question: What will it take to finish the task?