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Mark Wilson: The Spirit Said Go

Mark Wilson, The Spirit Said Go: Lessons in Guidance from Paul’s Journeys (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2017), 164 pages, ISBN 978-1532630132.

Mark Wilson is both a scholar and an author. He founded the Asia Minor Research Center in Antalya, Turkey and serves as its director. He is also the author of Biblical Turkey and Victory through the Lamb. As the subtitle of this current volume indicates this a book about divine guidance. However, this study is not merely historical. While the author uses biblical/historical examples from the life of the apostle Paul as the basis for the study, he does not leave the subject of guidance in the distant past. Throughout the book he cites examples of divine guidance in his own life and in the lives of people that he knows.

The book consists of an introduction, seven sections, which contain a total of twenty lessons, and five appendixes. The lessons focus on events in Paul’s life that are recorded in the book of Acts. Each lesson closes with reflection questions to help the reader remember and interact with the material in the lesson. Chapter eight is a summary of the various ways and means that God uses to guide people. The appendixes cover a variety of subjects. One deals with some additional examples of guidance in the book of Acts, two are testimonial in nature, recounting some of the author’s experiences, and the last two deal with the gift of prophecy.

In the course of the book Wilson gives attention to a variety of ways in which the Lord guides his people. In chapter eight he summarizes them by placing them in three major categories: supernatural, volitional, and providential. Those that he classifies as supernatural include dreams, visions, angels, and prophecy. Those in the volitional category include church leaders, human networks, and fellow believers. Guidance that he considers providential includes such things as conflict, open doors, and changed circumstances. God works though many different means to lead and guide his people. And, as Paul’s experience demonstrates, the Lord uses different forms of guidance at different times in a person’s life in order to accomplish his purposes.

The Lord uses different forms of guidance at different times in a person’s life in order to accomplish his purposes.

One of the things that I found most interesting and informative about this book was the light it shed on some of the events in Acts. Here are a few examples. When Barnabas wanted to get Paul and bring him to Antioch in Acts 11 he made a 125 mile walk to get him (page 10). In Acts 15, when Paul and Barnabas separated over John Mark they had been friends for close to two decades (page 51). Another interesting piece of information is the tremendous amount of territory that was covered during the first part of the Second Missionary Journey (found in Acts 15 and 16). Paul had traveled more than 500 miles from Syrian Antioch before he and his companions were “kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia” (Acts 16:6 NIV). He then went another 160 miles until he and his team were prevented from entering Bithynia (Acts 16:7). Then they still had to travel another 325 miles after that. Wilson tells us that Paul had traveled almost 1,000 miles from the time he left Syrian Antioch (pages 58-59). This is a long journey by any means, and especially when you take into account that most of this was on foot. Regarding Acts 18 the author says that the distance covered in the events covered in Acts 18:21-22 was 1,160 miles (page 71). Another valuable insight that Wilson brings out is that Paul was able to use various aspects of who he was at key points in his life. Paul mentioned his Roman citizenship in order to escape a flogging in Acts 16. A few chapters later, in Acts 23, he was able to divide the Sanhedrin, so that they fought among themselves, when he mentioned that he was a Pharisee (pages 108-109). The point that Wilson brings out is that the Lord can use various aspects of our identity, who we are, to serve his purposes.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Summer 2018

About the Author: John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. He has written for a number of publications and is the author of four books Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers Then and Now (Xulon Press, 2008), The Power and Practice of the Church: God, Discipleship, and Ministry (J. Timothy King, 2010), Answer the Prayer of Jesus: A Call for Biblical Unity (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and Dreams & Visions: Divine Interventions in Human Experience (J. Timothy King, 2012). He also served as co-editor of the book Creative Ways to Build Christian Community (Wipf & Stock, 2013). Amazon Author page. Facebook

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