Summary: As believer
A Study of the Book of Acts
Sermon # 1
“Living Up to the Name.”
We have bought the idea of many around that the church is quite irrelevant, a not at all an important segment of society. That view is absolutely false. The church is the most important body in the world today -- far and away beyond every other body -- because whatever happens in the world happens as a result of something that is, or is not, happening in the church.
The story is told of “the man who lived with his wife on the old family farm for years, barely scratching out a living. All the while, beneath the barren, dusty, almost uncultivated-able land was a rich supply of oil. While digging a water well, the farmer discovered this. Thus, he and his wife enjoyed a life of rich blessings. The farmer said, ‘And to think, we lived here all these years without knowing how rich we were!’
Many Christians are like that farmer. They go through their days, barely hanging on to their spiritual lives, living in their own weak ways; while beneath the surface, the power of God is ready to break free in their lives.”
This morning I want to start a new series on the book of Acts. The book of Acts describes a transition; geographically, from Jerusalem to Rome; theologically, from Israel to the church and racially, from Jews to Gentiles. Acts is a record of power exercised in the midst of persecution; an account of life and health pouring from a living Christ into a sick society through the channel of obscure men and women, very much like you and me.
The author of the book of Acts was Luke the physician, and he begins with a reference to his already completed work on the life of Christ, which we know as the Gospel of Luke.
“The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, (2) until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,
Obviously, then the Gospel of Luke was Volume One and Acts is Volume Two. Acts is the continued story of what to Jesus “began both do and to teach.” The book of Acts therefore is an unfinished book. It has never been ended, but is still being written. Luke picks up his account in Jerusalem with the closing hours of Jesus earthly ministry. It is the period between Jesus’ resurrection and His ascension into Heaven.
In these first eleven verses Luke gives us Five Foundational Principles around which to build the church.
I. THE BELIEVER’S MESSAGE v. 3
“CHRIST IS RISEN”
“to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”
The Greek word for "proof" here is a word that includes the idea of being convincing -- infallible, as the King James Version has it. Luke from the very beginning established that Christianity is a religion based on the historical facts. First and foremost is the fact of the miraculous resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The resurrection will be demonstrated by many convincing proofs and once proven it is proof of everything else that matters. Four categories of proof -
A. The Disciples Saw Him
He appeared to them during forty days. In fact Luke is the only writer of Scripture who tells us that Christ’s post-resurrection ministry covered forty days. The word here is one from which we get our word, ophthalmia, i.e., the word for the eye, or literally, the eyeball. If we were to use the modern vernacular, what Dr. Luke says is, these disciples "eyeballed" him for forty days. They saw him again and again, not merely once, but many times during this period. Each time he looked exactly the same.
In fact on ten different occasions Jesus appeared to the disciples, history leaves no doubt about his resurrection. The first five sightings took place on the first day when he He arose again, the other five took place form time to time during the forty days that followed.
He appeared to Mary in the Garden (Jn 20:11-18)
Women by the Wayside (Matt 28:9-10)
Disciples on the Emmaus Road (Lk 24:13-32)
Simon Peter in the late afternoon (Lk 24:34)
Disciples in the Upper Room (Jn. 20:19-23)
Again to the Disciple so the Thomas might see and believe (Jn. 20: 24-29)
Seven on the shore of Galilee ( Jn 21:1-14)
To some 500 gathered on a hillside (1 Cor. 15:7)
To James ( 1 Cor. 15:7)
To the disciples on the Mount of Olives as he ascended (Acts 1:9-12)