The Book of Acts
The book of Acts is the most powerful book ever written concerning the Church of Jesus Christ. In it we read of the acts of Christ or the continuing acts of Christ, the continuing acts of the Holy Spirit, the continuing acts of the Apostles, indeed, the continuing acts of the church throughout the first century. It is an amazing book that reveals the birth, the plan, and the purpose of the church.
When we read it we are amazed to see the apostles and the church continuing to do all that Christ did in the gospels. The question I want to ask is “how did the apostles and the early church continue to do all that Christ did while He was here?” For me, the answer is “They Believed”. They honestly believed in all that Christ said and did. They believed Christ was who He said He was and they believed that they could do all that Christ said they could do. They believed and then simply ACTED on that belief or better God acted through them because of their belief.
The words believe, belief, believed, believing are prominent throughout the New Testament. In one form or another we find this word over 250 times. What does it mean to believe? Paul said in Romans 10:9-10; “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
Believe is to have faith in, to put trust in, or to have the utmost confidence in. In the matter of Christianity is to have faith, trust, and the utmost confidence in all that Jesus said and did. It is heart belief or to believe with one’s entire being that Jesus suffered, died, and rose from the grave. If I can believe this way then I can truly do all thing in Christ Jesus my Lord.
The Apostles and the early church were able to do all they did because they believed in the resurrection of Christ, they believed in the kingdom of heaven, the believed in Holy Spirit, they believed in second coming of Christ, they believed in prayer, they believed in each other, they believed in God’s leadership, they believed evangelistic, spirit-filled preaching, they believed in discipleship, they believed in fellowship, and they believed in worship. They weren’t just carrying out some mundane religious exercise once a week, they were day by day continuing in one accord with a belief of everything that Jesus began to do and teach.
They were believing it, walking it, talking it, breathing it, everyday of their lives. They honestly believed they could do all things in Christ who strengthened them. They believed they were more than conquerors, they believed they had been indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God to continue on in everything Jesus said and taught. They believed that all things are possible for them that love God, they honestly, truly, with all confidence believed that nothing was impossible for God.
We read The Book of Acts and we ask and wonder why God doesn’t do today in our churches what He did in that first church. Maybe, just maybe, the answer is that we don’t believe, at least we don’t’ believe in the way that first church believed.
They believed God wanted to save souls and souls were saved, they believed God wanted to heal the sick and the sick were healed, they believed God wanted to mend the broken hearted and God mended the broken hearted, they believed God wanted to set the captive free and God set the captive free, they believed that God wanted to answer their prayer and God answered their prayer, they believed His grace was sufficient and His grace was sufficient. Before one can ACT he must believe, until one can believes he will never ACT.
The “Book of Acts” is not really the acts of the apostles or the acts of the church, it is the acts of God or the acts of Jesus Christ, or the acts of the Holy Spirit; manifested through a bunch of people that simply believed God would act in them and through them.
The first church was ostracized, they were ridiculed, they were disowned by family and friends, the religious hated them, they were cursed, beaten, scourged, crucified, and cast out of society. The Jews hated them, the Romans hated them, the pagans hated them. They were hunted down, they were jailed, and they were killed because of their belief. Yet, the church grew in numbers by leaps and bounds, God continued to do great and awesome acts through them in the midst of horrible persecution. Why? Because the believed that Jesus was who He said He was, they believed Jesus would do all He said He would do.
That first church never backed up, never shut up, or broke up; they never sit down or backed down; they always stood up, stepped up, and spoke up because they believed everything Jesus ever began to do and teach.
To that church or Christian today that can honestly, truly, with confidence, have faith and believe in all that Christ ever began to do and teach that same church can see God act in great and glorious ways as did the church of acts. The same God that did miraculous works through that first century church is the same God today that rules in the hearts and lives of every believer.
If you can believe that God wants, desires to save the souls of your loved ones and your friends then God can act through you to see them saved. If you can believe that God wants to awake a sleeping church, revive a dying church, renew and old church then God might just act through you to awake, revive, and renew. If you can believe that God wants to heal your marriage and make it all He ever intended it to be then God may act through you to do it. If you can believe that God can set your child free from addiction then God might act to do so. If you believe that God Himself longs to see your city set free from the oppressions of demonic forces then your God might act to set it free.
There is nothing our God loves to do more than to act through His people to set others free, but before God ever acts there must be belief.
Think about your salvation. No doubt, God saved you, it was His Holy Spirit that convicted you of sin, convinced you of Christ, and convinced you of the judgment to come. We did not save ourselves nor did we just simply choose to be saved one day, our salvation is all God’s doing. Yet, you nor I were saved until we first believed. When we believed then God acted to save us.
Now, you might say, well pastor, that’s all good, but what has this got to do with a study on the book of Acts. I say it has everything to do with a study in Acts. The first two chapters of Acts is all about belief. We don’t really see the acts of the apostles or the church until we get to the end of chapter 2. Or better yet, the first two chapters of acts is the act of believing. It’s not until the acts of believing take place in the heart of the church that the acts of God through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit began take place.
If you believe it you can do it. If you can’t believe it you will never do it.
Over the next several weeks we are going to look at the first two chapters of Acts from the stand point of “They Believed”. We are going to look at just what this church believed and practiced and I think we will see what I’m trying to say this morning.
God acted greatly through this church precisely because this church believed greatly in all that Jesus ever began to do and teach. God wants to act greatly though you and through your church but each of us individually and as a church must believe greatly in all the Jesus began to do and teach.
I end with this: “you can’t believe in what you don’t know” you can’t believe the Bible is you don’t know the Bible. You can’t walk in belief if you don’t know what to believe. That’s why Bible study is so important. It is God’s love letter to His church. It’s a loving, caring, letter written from a husband who loves his wife, a groom who love His bride and desires nothing but good for her.
We’ve started a new year, I am praying that it will be the favorable year of the Lord upon this body of believers. There is no better way for us to start than to decide and commit ourselves to reading, studying, and knowing this love letter. So, I want to ask you to do something, decide and commit today, that unless providentially hindered I will be in Sunday School and worship so that I might know the Word and come to know the God of the Word.
Pray this morning, “Lord, help me to believe all that you began to do and teach. Help me believe with all my heart so that you might begin ti act in and through me. Lord, help us to believe with all our hearts as the first church believed that you might act in and through us as you did the first church.”
Last Word: “Theophilus” means “beloved of God” or “Friend of God”