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The Roads Best Travelled 36: The Road from Ephesus


Issue 272

Based on Acts 19:1- 7

There is a type of person prevalent  in cultures where Christianity is on the wane; you may be working with one right now. Let me attempt a profile:

Believes in morality and integrity

Likes to play fair

Wants to win

Has a deal of sympathy for people

Cares about the environment

Wants to have a good family life

Will seek a Church school

Will attend religious events, on high days and holidays and some days

in between

Believes in someone upstairs

Believes in Christian values

Praises committed believers

Has a social conscience

These people are to be found scattered all over the marketplace. They are decent hard working honourable people who will help, care and be considerate, but they would not claim to have experienced God personally in a powerful or supernatural way. They may not be fully content, but they are by no means in despair; they display a form of Godly behaviour but would be unaware of life-changing power; they are godfearing but do not really know him.

You may be in a meeting with such people right now. They may be on your team or client list; they may be your employers or employees.

The tricky question is how can you be spiritually helpful to them? – this was the issue on the road to Ephesus . Paul takes the interiorb road and finds twelve men on arrival in the city who could be described as ‘disciples’, but clearly had not got the whole story. Paul’s approach was to ask them whether they had received the Spirit of God when they embraced belief. This diagnostic question is actually another way of asking someone if they are a Christian.  Merely asking someone if they are Christian could elicit the reply “yes”, though it may not be the case.

So Paul asks about the power and encounter aspect in order to diagnose their condition. Having established that they were moral, ethical and open, Paul moves them into the reality of Christian faith and experience.

The road to Ephesus has been occupied and these twelve men hijacked over the years in order to make all kinds of theological points. The challenge of this road however, is to summon up the courage  gently, but firmly, to diagnose, and then enhance someone’s spiritual condition. The Ephesian road is a road of reality; this road is a place where ethical, moral and values-driven lifestyles are challenged and overwhelmed by the other-dimensional dynamic of living faith.

There is no such thing as real Christian belief without the receiving of the Holy Spirit. The anomaly that Paul encountered resulted from the fact that these men had only got the John part of the story; the Jesus part involves a different kind of encounter altogether. Controversial it may be, but biblical it is. God still wants his followers to be able to move godfearers from morality to living faith – laying on hands, speaking words and introducing power. This is not a matter of denominational taste – the road to Ephesus is a call to courage, and if it seems daunting that is because it is daunting.

Sometimes, however, people will respond and take their stand with you. If you watch where the road to Ephesus took Paul, he also encountered obstinacy, public insult, a riot, and government interference, along with regular debate over a 2 year period – but that’s reality for you.


Acts 19:1-7

1While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 4Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 6When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 7There were about twelve men in all.

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Series: The Roads Best Travelled
Module: 2
Season: -
Daily Guide: No

Tags: challenge, courage, diagnosis, morality, power, reality, transformation

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Geoff Shattock

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