Summary: Acts can only be understood when the following issues/revelations are embraced: (1) The reality of Jesus’ resurrection (2) The instruction Jesus gave His followers in His post-resurrection appearances (3) The promise of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gave to
Three Foundational Issues
Series: Book of Acts #3
The book of Acts opens with an amazing account of Jesus interacting with His followers for forty days after His resurrection. Can you imagine what it would be like to have Jesus here in His resurrection body giving us a Bible study? What an experience that would be! We would probably sit with our jaws dropped in amazement.
We have begun a study of Acts and today we will look at the preamble to this second volume of Luke’s writings. Remember that the first few verses in Luke’s Gospel serve as an introduction to both volumes. There we were told Luke’s purpose and method. Luke is not repeating that information here. But in the first eleven verses he clearly reveals the theme of Acts and establishes a bridge with his previous volume. That bridge is found in our text this morning, Acts 1:1-5 (Read).
These first five verses of Acts provide an important summary of Luke’s gospel. He immediately references that “former book.” Verse 1, “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach....” The Gospel of Luke focused upon Jesus’ earthly ministry. And there were two essential ingredients to that ministry. What were they? They were teaching and doing. There may be a few people here that remember the old Frank Sanatra song “Love & Marriage”. One verse says,
Love & marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage
Dad was told by mother
You can’t have one without the other
Some things just go together. Teaching goes with doing and doing goes with teaching. Something important is lost if you leave out either one. Jesus taught and then He demonstrated what He taught. In Luke 24:19 Jesus was described as “...a prophet, powerful in word and deed....” In Acts we will see the Apostles teaching and doing. There is demonstration of power and there is explanation of what it means. For example in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost there are awesome manifestations of the Holy Spirit: wind, fire, and tongues. But what immediately follows that? Peter stands up and explains what God is doing. In Acts 3 the crippled beggar is healed when Peter and John pray for him on their way to the temple. What follows? Peter preaches to the crowd and calls them to personal decision. The pattern we find in Jesus’ ministry and in the early church embraces both teaching and the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit. We want to follow that pattern today, amen?
Look again in verse 1 at Luke’s opening reference to his gospel. “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach...” The Greek word translated “began” is “archoo” which sometimes has little significance. But in this context Luke is emphasizing the continuity of Jesus’ ministry as recorded in the gospels and what he is about to share in Acts. This preamble is a bridge between the two volumes. Jesus began to do something during His earthly ministry and He continues the purposes of God in the book of Acts through His church. In the Gospel of Luke we find that Jesus began to seek and save that which is lost. In the book of Acts as Head of the Church Jesus continues to seek and save that which is lost. The foundation for what we are about to see in Acts is what Jesus has already begun.
In these first 5 verses Luke is establishing the foundation for the continuing work of God in the book of Acts. He does that by addressing three essential issues: (1) the reality of Jesus resurrection (2) the instruction which Jesus gave the disciples and (3) the promise of the Holy Spirit. It is important for Luke that we be anchored in these three truths as he begins his narrative in Acts. Without this revelation the book of Acts can not be properly understood.
I. The Reality of Jesus Resurrection. Everything depends upon this. If Jesus is not risen from the dead then our faith is in vain. Christianity is nothing but another religion among many others. Islam has no resurrection. Buddhism has no resurrection, Confucius was not resurrected. Those religions can suggest a moral code for living in this temporal life but they offer no assurance or hope of resurrection. The book of Romans opens with these words “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God- 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 1:1-4).” Notice the continuity Paul establishes in those verses with the Old Testament. Verse 2 “the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.” There is a flow of revelation from Genesis to the book of Revelation that must be recognized. The whole Bible is dealing with God’s work of salvation for fallen humanity. We can only understand its parts in the context of the whole. But the reason I wanted you to look at Romans 1 was the statement in verse 4 concerning Jesus, “and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” The resurrection was God’s declaration that Jesus is everything He claims to be. A major error we are contending with and will be contending with even more in the days ahead is a pluralism that suggests that one religion is as good as another. Buddha didn’t rise from the dead. Mohammad didn’t rise from the dead. Jesus rose from the dead!