STRIKING GOLD FROM ACTS IN SEVEN STEPS
The gold city of Dawson remained filled with disenchanted gold miners. Some found mining jobs in the open mines, others fed themselves with short-term jobs offered by mine supply businesses, restaurants, hotel clerks, and washing clothes among others. Most stayed because they were either broke or too embarrassed to return home.
Rumors spread in the spring of 1899 that miners had found new gold. The steamers confirmed the rumors. Cape Nome, Alaska drew over 8,000 people for the new jackpot. Eric Lindblom, John Brynteson and Jafet Lindberg, known as the “Three Lucky Swedes,” joined forces in the Circle City area of Alaska. They left that area and moved to the west coast of Alaska, near the Anvil Creek. By the fall of 1898 excitement and renewed hopes spread among the disillusioned miners in the Yukon and Alaskan territories.
By summer of 1900, the largest general delivery address in the U.S. postal system would be in a town that did not exist a year earlier? A tent town mushroomed after gold was found on the beaches of the Snake River along its mouth.
In just a few months the population reached 20,000 people. The only equipment the people needed to mine for gold were shovels, buckets and rockers to separate the gold from the sand and rocks. The unexpected birth of Nome provided hope for many broke, desperate people,and renewed dreams.
Like the exciting news of the gold strike in Nome, Alaska, the gold that can be mined from the Book of Acts is plentiful for the person willing to invest time and surrender to the illumination of the Spirit.
Our mining goal this week is to discover how to mine the gold from the Book of Acts. May the Lord spur his miners to dig the depths of Acts. May we be spiritually bankrupt and know we are so destitute that we run to the book for its wealth.
QUESTIONS FOR THE GOLD MINER TO REMEMBER TO ASK …
We, gold miners, need to remember, like the Gospels, the Book of Acts presents narrative which requires two questions for the interpreter to focus keenly upon:
1) What is Luke’s intended message of each episode included in the Book of Acts.
2) What does Luke tell his readers by the way he connects the individual stories and speeches to form the larger narrative?
SIX QUESTIONS TO ASK AS WELL …
The primary meaning of any story in Acts can be discovered by these six questions: Ask
ADDITIONAL ISSUES TO REMEMBER
The gold miner must evaluate the length of Luke’s stories and how they are connected to understand Luke’s logical connections. Keep in mind, the length of Luke’s stories hint toward the events Luke considered most important.
The gold miner in the gold field of Acts must realize that the application of Acts brings new issues not faced with the Gospels. In the Gospels, no interpreter believes he/she will walk with Jesus into Jericho or sit with Jesus in the boat on the Sea of Galilee. However, in Acts the ministry of Jesus fades into the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The question is, what in Acts is normative for the church or for a believer to imitate the experiences and practices of the early church. The other option relates to a descriptive method of applying Acts, that is, what should the modern church or believer hold to as important, valuable, and inspiring, but not binding?
SEVEN STEPS TO HELP MINE THE GOLD HIDDEN IN THE BOOK OF ACTS
Select the passage you desire to explore.
If you plan to preach exegetically through the Acts, you should evaluate the paragraph divisions of your translation. You could compare your translation with that of 2 or 3 more. Use the paragraph divisions to help you identify the major thought development of the chapter.
Explore the literary connections of the passages before and after your passage.
The gold miner needs to be explore the intended meaning of the passages immediately before and immediately following his passage understudy. This will help to keep the flow of thought intact. The miner needs to expand his awareness of the contents of Acts from the beginning of the Book of Acts and to the end of the Book of Acts. The miner should know the terrain of Acts like as well as any gold miner would know his stake.
Determine Luke’s intended meaning of the passage under study.
The literary context studied in the previous section now provides the grid from which the current study must fit logically. The miner for the gold in the passage should explore as many aspects of the passage as possible. Nothing should be taken for granted.
The miner needs to review his presuppositions and pre-understandings related to the passage which he/she brought to the passage from former study, other sermons or Bible studies, or any other source that could slant the interpretation away from Luke’s intended meaning.
Ask what characteristics of the persons in the narrative can be modeled or need to be avoided?
Acts is filled with persons who modern day disciples should model in behavior, attitude, faith, and being. In similar manner, other persons serve as models who the modern believer ought to refused to emulate.
Of course, Peter, Barnabas, and Paul standout as major role models to imitate. A few including Stephen, Lydia, and Philip show the modern miner how to live a life of faith and obedience. Ananias and Sapphira with their deception and subsequent judgment portray those negative models to avoid as well as Simon, the sorcerer and King Herod Agrippa.
The gold miner will ask what characteristics did each person exemplify that is worthy of study and application? Alongside this feature of study, the gold miner will ask what was God’s response to those who modeled faith and obedience and what was His response to those who disbelieved or disobeyed? Another question needing to be asked is what should be followed and what ought to be avoided by today’s believers?
Ask what is the theological meaning intended by Luke?
In the passage understudy, the intended meaning of Luke must carry the day for the gold mine interpreter. (Click to Tweet) The literary context of the passage will set the boundaries for what can be considered normative and for what is not normative actions for the modern church to follow. This will be more fully explored below.
Examine the rest of Acts and ask if the events in this passage are normative in other parts of Acts?
Reading Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-35 reveals the early believers selling property and giving material goods to other believers in need. So, our question is, “Does God expect the modern believer and modern church to sell our goods and give it to other believers in our local churches?” Without question, this generosity causes us to want to be like our early brothers and sisters in Christ.
But, the modern interpreter must continue to read Acts 5. Here Ananias and Sapphira sell property and give some to the apostles. Peter makes the situation clear in Acts 5: 3-4. He clearly states that Ananias and Sapphira were free to keep the profit they had made from the sale. God did not require them to sell the property or to give money to the apostles. Thus, the sharing of property and goods rested purely on a voluntary response to needs of other believers.
Mark the places where events and themes are reduplicated in Acts.
Many of these are easy to identify if one keeps a pencil/pen handy and makes a list. Check the number of references to prayer, preaching, witnessing, God’s sovereign control over events and people, the spread of the Gospel from Jew to Gentile as a place to begin.
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!
Let me suggest we read and highlight the number of ways God revealed His will to the early church in Acts.
Remember the mere fact that something is repeated does not automatically mean that it is normative for Christianity throughout history.
Please feel free to post your observations in the response area this week. Let’s see howmany ways we can find. Then we can evaluate how many we feel are normative and timeless.
Please use this format:
Acts 8:26, 12:7 – God used angels to communicate His will to the early church.