Alternative Explanations of Spiritual Experience (Acts 2:5-13)

What are spiritual experiences?   We Christians believe that authentic spiritual experiences are experiences of God and/or other elements of the supernatural realm (such as angels or demons). We also believe that counterfeit spiritual experiences are possible, however, when people mistakenly attribute to a supernatural cause an event with a natural explanation. Knowing whether a spiritual experience is counterfeit or authentic, and if authentic whether divine or demonic, calls for discernment (1 John 4:1).   Acts 2:1-4 narrates the spiritual experience of the early Christians (speaking in tongues) and attributes it to a supernatural source (the Holy Spirit). But Acts … Continue reading Alternative Explanations of Spiritual Experience (Acts 2:5-13)

The Experiential Dimension of Revival (Acts 2:1-4)

Acts 2 narrates the paradigmatic revival of the Christian church. It has three dimensions: experiential (verses 1-13), evangelical (verses 14-41), and ecclesial (verses 42-47). Over the next few days, I will examine each dimension, pointing out its relevance for today’s church.   First, however, let me explain my use of the term revival to describe the events of Acts 2. The dictionary offers two meanings of revival in a religious context: (1) “an awakening, in a church or community, of interest in and care for matters relating to personal religion”; and (2) “an evangelistic service or a series of services … Continue reading The Experiential Dimension of Revival (Acts 2:1-4)

Organization as a Precondition of Revival (Acts 1:20-26)

In Acts 1:5, 8, Jesus promised his disciples that soon after his ascension they would “be baptized with the Holy Spirit” and “receive power.” Acts 2:1-41 narrates the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise on the Day of Pentecost. Between Jesus’ promise and its Pentecostal fulfillment, Luke narrates two important events: the disciples “all joined together constantly in prayer” (1:12-14), and they chose an apostolic replacement for Judas Iscariot (1:15-26).   If the Day of Pentecost is a paradigm of spiritual revival for the church, then prayer and organization are preconditions for it. I have already written about prayer in my comments … Continue reading Organization as a Precondition of Revival (Acts 1:20-26)

The Judas Problem (Acts 1:15-19)

In Acts 1:15-26, the Apostle Peter addressed what might be called the church’s Judas Problem.   To understand this problem, a bit of background information is necessary. Mark 3:14-15 tells us that Jesus “appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.”   Notice five things: (1) Just as there are twelve tribes in Israel, so there are twelve apostles of Jesus. The apostles symbolize Israel reconstituted. (2) An apostle—literally, “one sent”—is the personal representative of the person who sent him. The Hebrew … Continue reading The Judas Problem (Acts 1:15-19)

Prayer as a Precondition of Revival (Acts 1:12-14)

In October 2003, Tiffany and I went on a tour of the Holy Land led by my father. During our time in Jerusalem, we visited the Upper Room, a site which commemorates the Last Supper and Day of Pentecost. (It is not the original Upper Room, however; it only dates from the twelfth century.) As the tour group crowded into this room, my dad made an interesting comment: “This was the last place the entire church was able to fit into one room.”   Acts narrates the story of a great revival, beginning in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost … Continue reading Prayer as a Precondition of Revival (Acts 1:12-14)

The Best Is Yet to Come (Acts 1:9-11)

On Tuesday, November 4, 2008, Americans will elect a new president. He—perhaps one day, she—will take up residence in the White House on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, after Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administers the oath of office. During the anticlimactic 77 days between election and inauguration, he will appoint staff and devise strategy so that he is adequately prepared to lead from the moment he ends his oath with George Washington’s words, “So help me, God!”   The 40-day period between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension was only half as long as the election-inauguration period but infinitely more important. … Continue reading The Best Is Yet to Come (Acts 1:9-11)

Eschatology and Missions (Acts 1:6-8)

Have you heard of The Rapture Index?   It is a webpage run by two Bible-believing Christians named Todd Strandberg and Terry James. The purpose of the index is “to measure the type of activity that could act as a precursor to the rapture.” It does this by assigning numerical value on a daily basis to news reports about false Christs, war, natural disasters, and famine, among other things. The Rapture Index measured 169 on June 30, 2008. The all-time high for the index was 182 on September 24, 2001. The all-time low was 57 on December 12, 1993.   … Continue reading Eschatology and Missions (Acts 1:6-8)