Acts overview Acts 1:1-11 WBC 21/4/2 am
Such an important book!
Without it wouldn’t know:
- who Paul is (or that once called Saul). His background
- background of many of the churches that our epistles are written to
- how they came into being
- Galatian, Ephesian, Philppian churches. Those written to in Revn
- forms a link between gospels and epistles
- wouldn’t know much about baptism (either in water or Spirit)
gospels – find Jn’s baptism
- know that Jesus’ disciples baptised… but don’t know how
epistles- simply assumes you’ve been baptised. There’s nothing about water (apart from one small hint in 1Peter). Could be olive oil for all we’d know without Acts
here/Acts- you see it happening. Christian baptism in the name of Jesus
- see that it’s in water
- amount = open to interpretation. The word means ‘dunk/drench
- Ethiopian Eunuch ‘here is some water’
- Paul and Philippian gaoler- in homes
- similarly, baptism in HS
- in gospels it’s all looking forward to it… Him
- “I baptise in water, but one is coming who will B in HS”
- are ‘foretastes’: ‘receive the HS” Jn 20:22
- Lk 24:45 “then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures”
- Lk’s gospel tells them there’s more 24:42 ‘stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high”
- > gospels are all looking forward
epistles are all looking back
It’s Acts that tells us – how the early reception of the HS happened
- what we might expect
- that there were many encounters/fillings with the HS
- that certain manifestations could accompany HS activity
- that teaches us to avoid strict patterns and preconceptions for how these things should happen… as so many different models, here
- it’s a snapshot of early ch life: warts, experimentation & all
It’s part II of a single work by Luke the doctor (who accompanied Paul on later parts of his journey: 16:10ff ‘we’)
- remember: he didn’t know he was writing ‘scripture’
- but I’m ever so glad he did! We’d be impoverished without it
- some were of course
- for a good few years you might only have had Jn’s gospel, or one of the early epistles
- he didn’t know he was writing ;scripture’. The HS just inspired him to write a letter to Theophilus (‘dear to God’)
- it’s as though it was written to all of us who are dear to God
- but actually written to a specific man… the same man he wrote ‘Luke’ to
- so, it’s part II of the same story- and should really come after Luke’s gospel : ‘my former book”
- note: Lk 1:13 he’s called ‘most excellent Theophillus’.
- Here = just ‘Theophillus’
- No need to butter him up so much, now.
- Luke’s known to him… has his respect
- Interestingly enough, there are tremendous parallels between the gospel of Luke and Acts
- What happens to Jesus in Lk, happens to the church in Acts
- So, part I = life of Jesus, part II = story of ch
Both start with Mary being prominent (1:14- she’s a main character, here) > baptism in HS (Jesus, Ch) > preaching, healing, well received, gaining favour > hostility > trial (Jesus/Paul both have 3 acquittals)
= a clear lesson to us that we… as individuals… & a church (world-wide) go through… went through what Jesus did
- and should DO what Jesus did
We should ‘act’ like Jesus did
Lk, part I = all that Jesus ‘began’ to do & teach
- ‘began’ = linguistic oddity, unncessity
now, Luke part II… the sequel… = all that Jesus continued… continues to do
- through His church
- because He’s alive. Still
- (this is unique! There’s no continuing acts of Gautama Bhudda or Mohammed or Confucius)
So, Luke, at the start of Acts - gives a brief synopsis of his gospel letter:
- re-iterates some of the foundational things:
- v3- He suffered (strong word: passion)
- v3- He’s alive, risen- proven and factual- and the disciples were won over by the evidence
- v3- He gave further instructions about the KOG. Rule of God
- so, not surprising they asked, also, ‘is this the end of it all, Jesus. Do Israel get their thrones?’
- things don’t change, eh?!
- Without the HS’s power we’re all gonna
- Misunderstand… date hunt… see things carnally.. be disappointed with- the wait… how it actually works out
- V5 that the HS will be the key next step
- And actually THEY will bring in the KOG in a spiritual way (and as of that point the date and event watching and analysis ceases)
And then launches into the continuing acts of Jesus- through the Ch
Now, brief ‘refresh’ of what I said 4 years ago
- our title = ‘Acts’. Literally ‘praxis’/deeds.
- Originally untitled. Simply a letter
- First historic title = Acts of ALL the Apostles
- Problem with that was- not all in there!
- Next = Acts of Apostles. Great, but find
- Not only Apostles on there
- Philip & Stephen do tremendous things… but they’re just ordinary ‘members of the seven’
- So maybe should just be called ‘Acts of Christians’
- - good eh? A pattern for what early Christians did…and what Xians do, today
- plant churches
- yes: raise the dead, cast out demons, speak in tongues, have prophesies, get persecuted
one of our problems in the west is the ‘culture of the individual’
- lost our corporate sense of identity
- even lost some connection with the corporate church world-wide… historically
- & so we read books like Acts & think ‘well, that’s not my experience. I don’t see that happening around me’
- & so we close down to its truth because we (rightly) ascertain that many of the more (seemingly) ‘supernatural’ works of God aren’t happening HERE
- but they ARE happening right close to us
- I have a brother who was dead three days and was raised from the dead
- I have a sister who has been deported for just going to church.
- Her name is Nina Koptseva and she worshipped in Baku in Azerbaijan. She was imprisoned and then deported to Russia
- My brother is from Nigeria, and he was raised from the dead at a Reinhard Bonke event.
these things are happening to our brothers and sisters NOW. In the church. The same God is doing the same things (and people are reacting in the same way)
- and, HERE, - I have new-born sister who started following Jesus a few weeks ago… and a brother who has recently been given the gift of tongues. Here
So- stifle your cynicism. The church is more than just us. And Jesus is the same yesterday, today and for ever
- (so we don’t have to lie or exaggerate. He is still at work. He’s alive)
So: title: ‘Acts of Christians’?
- but hang on. God features 120 times in first 13 chapters
- > “Acts of God” ? (what we insure against?!)
- OR “Acts of God through Christians”?
- But wait: ‘Acts’ is initiated… starts with… the outpouring of the HS
- = history of how HS birthed… built the church
- birthed 3000 in one day
So, title = ‘Acts of God, by the power of the HS?”
- but, as I say, Lk’s gospel is about God acting through Jesus. All that Jesus began to do.
- Acts is about what Jesus continued to do. Through the HS
- Find the HS does whatever Jesus does. Continues Jesus’ ministry
- He is how Jesus ministers to YOU, now. Works now.
- Here. …. Out there.
So here’s really what this book is about:
‘the continuing Acts of Jesus, to the glory of the Father, by the power of the HS, through Christians… to the end of the earth”
Well. 2 things gleaned from this passage
wait expectantly for God to speak to you… change you… through this book. Through your HG
- wait openly. Rid yourself of preconceptions. Open your hearts
Lk 11:13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
Seek God for Him to speak and ACT through us