One of the great joys of studying the Bible with others is seeing connections in Scripture you had not realized previously. The Tuesday Morning Men’s Bible Study at Perkins Restaurant just began the Acts of the Apostles. The author Luke mentions that the Gospels teach us about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 1:1. The Book of Acts then is the continuation of Jesus’ ministry from heaven thru the work of the Holy Spirit on earth. The Holy Spirit is introduced immediately by Luke in verse 2 in fulfillment of Jesus’ repeated promise in the Gospels. Many have said that the book might more aptly be renamed the Acts of the Holy Spirit because it is His ministry that guides and enables the early church.
In response to Peter’s great confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus said in the Gospels, I will build my church, Matthew 16:18. When we reach verse 8 of Acts 1 it becomes clear that the Book of Acts is the story of Jesus fulfilling that promise. Acts 1:8 reads: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and all Samaria, and to the end of the earth. This verse not only gives us the theme of Acts but also the outline of the whole book.
Theme of Acts: The empowerment of believers by the Holy Spirit to establish and expand the Church just as Jesus promised. Outline of Acts: The witness of the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit in 1) Jerusalem (chapters 1-7), 2) in Judea and all Samaria (chapters 8-12), and 3) to the end of the earth (chapters 13-28). What lessons can we learn for our ministry today from this brief introduction to Acts?
The building of the Church is the most significant work God is doing in the world today. The disciples wanted to know about future events in Acts 1:6. Jesus immediately said the times (length of history) and seasons (events yet to come) are known only by the Father, verse 7. God will bring future events to pass according to His plan as revealed in Scripture. In the meantime, the establishment and expansion of His church is His number one priority in this age. Someone has well said that Plan A is the Church and there is no Plan B.
We are wasting our lives if we are not involved in the establishment and expansion of the Church. If every Christian is a member of Christ’s body, and if this is God’s main work in the world today, then our lives find their great purpose in participating in the work of the Church. We all have our calling in the world to represent Christ in our various walks of life as He has appointed. But even there our purpose is to so represent Christ that people will be drawn to Him and want to be part of His Church. And then within His Church we have a part to contribute so the work of God on earth is done.
This gives meaning, purpose, excitement and perseverance to our daily lives and church ministries. A friend of mine who works as a pharmacist in Lower Michigan used to say to me that the only two things that will last into eternity are the souls of people and the Word of God. Everything else will perish. Bringing the souls of people into connection with the Word of God is the most lasting work anyone can do. That is what we get the chance to do as we represent Christ well in everyday life and then participate in the life of the Church. That means every day is filled with meaning and purpose because we are involved in that great work. It helps us persevere because we know that no matter what happens otherwise our labor is not in vain in the Lord, 1 Corinthians 15:58.
Your friend, part of the great story of Acts with you, Pastor Brian (:-})