Posted by Paul Edwards (Fr. Paul) on Jan 03, 2013 | Comments (0)

First Sunday After Epiphany

Bottom Line Spirituality: Worldly and Godly Thinking

Click here to go to the Bottom Line Meditations for The First Sunday After Epiphany

Godly Abiding Spiritually in Jesus Changes the Meaning of What we See Worldly When Not Abiding in Jesus.

Spirituality is our innate ability to feel the difference worldly or godly thinking makes to the way scripture translates to our daily life and relationships.

Acts 8:14-17Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”

The Samaritans took the Spirit.

I have heard arguments about what the Bible says. Sometimes there should be arguments about how the translators translate the Bible. Their theology tends to show what they believe when they write. The Scripture today illustrates this problem.

In the Scripture, the Deacons have gone out and baptized the Samaritans. Jesus’ commission to the eleven Apostles just before His Ascensions was to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and throughout world. Acts 8:1 The Apostles were excited about being witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea, but they drew the line in going to the hated Samaritans and the gentile dogs.

We want to glorify the Apostles with deeds of how they left Jerusalem and went into far countries. The problem is the evidence says differently. The picture Luke gives us in Acts of the Apostles is they buried themselves into the Jewish religious community. They became quite respected. Granted Peter and John were beaten in the Temple for spreading the name of Jesus the as the Messiah. However, as time moved on in Jerusalem, the apostle’s position was able to blend into the Jewish traditions and customs. Gamaliel, in the Sanhedrin, said of the new faith that if it is not of God, it will fail and if it is, we would be found opposing God. Acts 5:24 That seemed to settle it.

Now along came the Deacons. The Apostles were accused by the community of favoring the Jewish widows over the gentile widows. Caught with their hand in the cookie jar, they tried covering things up by ordaining Greek converts as Deacons. The Deacon’s job was to wait on tables because the Apostles had bigger things to do. The Deacons took their vows seriously. They saw the Apostles had no intention of following their witness outside of Judea, so they did.

Stephen preached Jesus’ Gospel of grace. You could be in the grace without the Temple or the Law of Moses. For that he was stoned. Saul was there, giving approval to his death. “On that day, a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” Acts 8:1

If you missed it go over it again. In bold print, Luke (a man who knew St. Paul) drew a picture of the persecution.  It would be obvious if you were to persecute a group you would start with their leaders. However, the Apostles sold out. They blended into the community and actually stayed in Jerusalem where they were safe.

The Deacons went into Samaria. There they baptized several converts as Christians. The scripture writes that the Samaritans had not yet “received” the Holy Spirit. The Apostles had to go up and lay hands on them and the Samaritans did “receive” the Holy Spirit.

Rational thinking is they did not receive the Holy Spirit and had to send the Apostles to finish the job.

The problem here is the Greek word for “receive” is the same as “take”.  Jesus said in the Last Supper, “Take, eat”, not “receive and eat.”

Spiritual understanding knows when a person is baptized they receive the Holy Spirit. We receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism. Infants, especially, and also adults who have received the Spirit may not have taken the Spirit. That means they have not had the Holy Spirit released in them. We need to take the Spirit

Taking the Spirit is not for salvation. It is for discipleship.

To do ministry, we need to release it. Jesus plan was to make disciples, not make Christians, of all nations. Matthew 28:19 That is what the Epiphany Season is about. Learning not only how to become a disciple but how to make disciples as well.

No matter how much you know about Christianity, you need to know how to abide in Jesus and how to teach others to receive and release the Spirit within, if you are to be a disciple. That is the prime purpose of this web site.

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