Summary: Jesus is the star of the book of Acts from beginning to end, and everywhere in between. This sermon examines Jesus's opening salvos in the church era and the promise of His return and what all these things portend for the church and for us.
Fasten Your Seat Belt, Pilgrim, You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
February 2, 2014
This morning I’m beginning a new preaching series through the book of Acts.
Let’s begin by reading verses 1-2: “The former treatise have I made [the former treatise Luke is referring to the Gospel of Luke], O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen.”
[OPEN IN PRAYER]
Look at the title of this book in your Bible: it probably says, “The Acts of the Apostles.” The titles of the books of the Bible are not inspired and were added later. This one, first used by the early church father Irenaeus late in the 2nd century, has stuck over the centuries.
“Acts of the Apostles” is an accurate description of the book up to a point, but I had always thought a better title might be “The Acts of the Holy Spirit” since it records the workings of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the leaders of the early church. But in preparation for this series, it occurred to me that an even better title would be “The Continuing Acts of Jesus Christ on Planet Earth.” Clearly Jesus is the star of this story, and He’s the main actor of every scene. So it’s fitting that He’s mentioned here in the very FIRST verse of Acts as well as the very LAST verse in the book—like bookends—and on every page in between.
But as we look at the first few chapters of this book, I think maybe Luke might have titled it, “You Read My First Book, but Fasten Your Seat Belt, Pilgrim; You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!” (a title suggested by Robert Girard and Larry Richards in their book, The Book of Acts). Okay, it’s an unreasonably long title, but I call it that because in today’s text right here at the very beginning of this book, we’re going see that Jesus is alive and well and ready for action!
In verses 1-11 there are three things about Jesus’s activities that have tremendous implications for the entire history of the church—and consequently for you and me today.
Let’s look at them:
I. FIRST, WE SEE THAT THAT JESUS IS LIVING – Acts 1:3 – “To whom [speaking of the apostles mentioned in verse 2] also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”
This book begins not with a dead teacher, but a with a risen Redeemer; a living Lord! And this fact explains everything else we will read about in the book of Acts. The fact that we see Jesus alive in this passage has enormous ramifications for the rest of this book and, in fact, the entire history of Christianity and indeed the world! Let me share just two of those ramifications:
1) First of all, when Jesus rose from the dead, He proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that HE WAS WHO HE SAID HE WAS.
Repeatedly Jesus made the claim that He was the Son of God—that He was, in fact, God Himself come in the flesh.
For instance, in John 10:30 He said “I and my Father are one.”
Furthermore, not only did Jesus claim to be God, He also declared that He is the only way to God the Father and to heaven.
He said in John 14:6 – “…I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life: NO MAN cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Now, anybody can claim to be from God, or even that he IS God or that he is the only way to heaven. But only Jesus Christ PROVED these claims by rising from the dead! Jesus is the only one we can credibly believe because He’s the only one who did what no other created being can do—He raised HIMSELF from the dead!
Illus. – This reminds me of the three lunatics in an insane asylum: The 1st said to the 2nd, “Did you know that I’m Napoleon Bonaparte?”
Indignantly, the 2nd lunatic replied, “Why you IMPOSTER! I’ll have you know that I’M Napoleon Bonaparte!”
The 1st one said, “Oh yeah! Who says you’re Napoleon Bonaparte?”
The 2nd responded, “GOD told me so.”
That aroused the 3rd lunatic who said, “I most certainly DID NOT!”
Now you know as well as I do that no one would take seriously these three men’s claims about who they were—especially the third one. Why?—Because none of them had proofs to back up their claims. But Jesus DID—because of the resurrection!