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The Scriptorium

Not All Publicity is Good Publicity

Paul moves to preserve the integrity of truth.

Acts (15)

And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24.27

This week’s video is presentation 15 in our study of Acts, and looks at the work of theology in the ongoing work of Christ. You can view it by clicking here (scroll down to Lesson 15).

Read and meditate on Acts 16.16-18.
Back in the 1970s, when TV evangelists were as ubiquitous as reality shows are today, Malcolm Muggeridge, the esteemed British journalist and late convert to Christ, wrote a book entitled, Christ and the Media. In it he argued that, had TV existed in the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day, and had Jesus been offered a one-hour per week, prime-time slot to do whatever He wanted, to be shown throughout the Roman world, Jesus would have declined. TV, Muggeridge explained, is associated with what is not real. TV is a medium for entertainment and advertising, not for representing truth. Jesus, Muggeridge insisted, would have had nothing to do with it, just as Paul wanted nothing to do with this young girl, whom everyone recognized as being under the influence of some sort of evil spirit.

For reflection
1.  Most people understood in those days that all forms of divination and fortune-telling were bogus or demon-inspired. Fun, and maybe a little scary, but ultimately folly. Yet this little girl was proclaiming the truth! What could be the harm in that?

2.  If this little girl kept this up, two results might have ensued, neither of which would have been good for the ongoing work of Christ. First, folks might have come to think that Paul and his team of evangelists were of the same sort as that little girl – just part of the act. Would this have been good for the cause of the Gospel? Explain.

3.  Alternately, if people realized that this girl was telling the truth about Paul and his team, would they then have concluded that maybe some other things she might have prophesied would be truthful as well? How would that have clouded the work of the Gospel?

4.  So Paul delivered the little girl from her demon (Greek: python) and preserved the integrity of the Gospel. Well done, Paul! Well, sort of. Wasn’t Paul meddling in other people’s business? Should Christians do such things? Should Christians stand up against immoral, Gospel-compromising practices?

5.  The problem Paul created was not of a religious sort. It was pure economics. The men who owned this poor child were making money off her hand over fist. They may have seen Paul and Silas as a kind of opening act for their star prodigy. And they doubtless passed the hat continuously to reap the benefits of their new, enlarged, act. So Paul’s refusal to go along with the show would have been a problem. Is it possible that churches today sometimes send mixed messages to the watching world? Explain.

The Gospel is the truth of God, and those who live and proclaim it must be ready to guard and defend it against every adversary or cheap imitation. Paul had to confront this situation openly and boldly so that his work of preaching would not be compromised. How should we expect to have to do this in our own Personal Mission Fields?

Closing Prayer
The words of the LORD are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times.
You shall keep them, O LORD,
You shall preserve them from this generation forever.

Psalm 12.6, 7

T. M. Moore

Each week’s studies in Acts are bound together into a free PDF that you can download for personal or group use (click here). Each week also features a video related to the studies of the week, which you may find helpful as you work through our studies in Acts.

Acts is the record of Christ’s ongoing work as King and Lord. This is the work of bringing the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven. Read more about the implications of this work in our new book,
The Kingdom Turn (click here).

Please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Or, you can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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