Guests: Dave Thomas
Verses: Acts 16:9 – 17:12
Leading Question: How does the church at Thessalonica compare with the typical Christian church today?
In the first two lessons for this quarter we focus on the story of the founding of the church at Thessalonica, especially based on Acts 16 and 17. These are the questions we can address:
1. Voices in the night. Paul was in Asia minor when he had a vision in the night, a man standing before him saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” How typical would such a call be in our day? Do we found churches today because of voices in the night?
2. Quick baptisms. When Paul arrived in Philippi, he had two experiences with two quick conversions and baptisms. Lydia, a dealer of purple, heard the message at the river and was baptized. The jailer at Philippi was also baptized before the night was over. Could or should taht be instructive for us today?
3. Corporate salvation. The Philippian jailer and his whole family were baptized and saved, apparently as a family unit. Is such a “corporate” approach culturally conditioned, or should we move toward such a model even in individualist American culture?
4. The political card. When the authorities discovered that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had been beaten illegally, they immediately took steps to control the damage. And it was Paul himself who brought his citizenship to their attention. To what extent should we use political methods to further the Gospel or to protect ourselves? Or should we simply trust in God?
5. Only three weeks to found a church? How much evidence is there in Acts that would help us understand why Paul could establish a church with only three weeks of contact. In his day, was it easier to make Christians from Jews and from believing Gentiles, than it is for us to make converts of secularists? Conservative Christians? Liberal Christians? Non-Christians such as Muslims or Buddhists?
6. Christians against the world. Paul seems to have run afoul of both Jews and Romans. Could we draw parallels with counter-cultural Adventism today? Have we made too much “peace” with the world to be effective evangelists?
7. Preaching the suffering servant. According to Acts, Paul’s entering wedge was a straightforward presentation of the Messiah as suffering servant. How would such an “entering wedge” work in our culture today? If it does not work, when should one introduce this message that is central to the heart of Christianity?