Summary: Sermon lays foundation for a study of Acts by addressing three key hermeneutical issues. (1) Unity of Acts and Luke’s Gospel (2) Theological value of Luke’s writings (3) Context of Luke’s writings, particularly Acts.
Series: Book of Acts #1
Today we begin a study of the Book of Acts. It is perhaps the most exciting book in the Bible. It is a book of action. In Acts the world is being turned upside down and right side up by the gospel of Jesus Christ preached with power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. We enter this study with four goals in mind.
(1) As New Testament believers we want to know what we believe about the Holy Spirit and why we believe it. Could you explain from the Bible why it is important to be filled with the Spirit and how that can happen in a person’s life? We want to be equipped to do that during this study.
(2) We also want our faith strengthened concerning God’s willingness to work supernaturally through His people. “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” It is my prayer that while we study this book the Holy Spirit inspires us to believe God for great and mighty things. Amen? The same Holy Spirit Who worked in the early church is with us today with the same purposes in mind.
(3) We also want a clear vision of what God is doing in the earth and how we can be a part of it. Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” “God, use us. Let our lives make a difference for Your glory.”
(4) Finally, we want a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit on our own lives. If you have not been filled with the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues I encourage you to pray during this series. Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit and expect Him to honor His promise to do so. What promise am I talking about? I’m talking about Luke 11:11-13 "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 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!"
Because of the importance of this study I want to lay a good foundation for interpreting the book of Acts. Philip asked the Ethiopian in Acts 8:30 “Do you understand what you are reading?” That question opened the door for a great transformation in that Ethiopian’s life. We need to read this book with understanding. We need to understand what Luke is seeking to communicate and how it applies to our lives in the now. There are three fundamental issues that must be addressed in our interpretation of Acts.
I. The unity of Luke’s two volumes: the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Most of the time people don’t make this connection because of the way these books are placed in the canon. Luke was placed with the three synoptic gospels and is separated from Acts by the Gospel of John. But we know by reading the preface of each book that Acts is a second volume to the Gospel of Luke. Read with me Acts 1:1-2 “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.” Now who is Acts addressed to? The man’s name is Theophilus. What former book is Luke referring to? Turn with me to Luke 1:1-4 and we will see. Luke 1:1-4 “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” There is the addressee again, Theophilus. We don’t know exactly who this person was. Theophilus was a common name and there is no external history to tell us who this Theophilus was. But there is some internal evidence in these two volumes that gives us some insight on him. Luke addresses him as “kratiste”, most excellent or most noble, which was a term used to address people of high social standing in the Roman Empire. The term was sometimes used as a courtesy but Luke’s use of it here probably tells us that Theophilus was a person of wealth and social standing. From the content of Luke-Acts we conclude that he is probably believer with a background in the Jewish synagogue.