Welcome to the Book of Acts! Today we begin an adventure. We will regularly be traveling back in time, nearly 2000 years, to watch our forefathers and mothers live out their faith. Many of them actually knew Jesus. They had watched Him minister and had listened to Him teach. And what we read in this book is their obedience to what they heard Him tell them to do. He had been a good teacher, and they loved Him. They had watched Him ascend into heaven. They believed in Him. So when He told them to wait for the Holy Spirit, they waited. When He told them they would do the same kinds of ministry as He had done, they did. They stood in the same place in the Temple where He had stood, and taught and healed the crowds just as He had. They gathered in homes to eat together, discuss the Word and pray just as they had done with Him traveling through Galilee and Judea. He assured them that after He ascended He would still be with them, so they continued to expect Him to lead them as their Lord. When He said He would send them to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and even the remote parts of the earth, they went.
As we read Lukes historical account of the first 30 years of the Church, the example of these early believers continues to challenge us. Indeed, the Book of Acts has often been used in the past to inspire revival. Sooner or later someone reads the book and asks, Why dont we do those things anymore?And if they refuse to listen to the excuses someone always supplies, theyve taken the first step toward a fresh move of God.
Gods strategy to win the world
Gods strategy to win the world can be put into two words: multiply Jesus. Like seed in the hand of the sower, He said He would take Spirit-filled men and women and scatter them everywhere. Jesus would be their Head, and they would be His Body. So Jesus ministry would not end at His ascension but shift into high gear. No longer would Jesus be limited to being in one place at a time. Now His people could carry Him everywhere.
What did Jesus promise?
Here are three promises we see being fulfilled in the Book of Acts. Jesus said that
1) After He ascended, the Holy Spirit would come and actually dwell inside us. This is what the Father promised (Jn 4:10-14; 7:37-39; 14:16, 17; Lk 24:49; Ac 1:4, 5).
2) The Holy Spirit would bring with Him the actual presence of Jesus and the Father (Jn 14:18-20, 23). In this way, Jesus said, He would return and be with us (Mt 28:20).
3) We should expect to minister in the same power as He did: Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these will he do because I go to the Father (Jn 14:12).
Pruning the Vine
Jesus also said, Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, (the Father) takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. (Jn 15:2)
Real prophetic words seldom contain new information. They usually call us back to obedience to something we had been told to do in the past, yet had forgotten. In other words, like the branch on a grapevine, we wilt. No sooner do we hear God speak than we begin the process of drifting back to the way we were. To remain in the place of obedience requires regular pruning. We must allow God to continually correct us, to put us back on course when we stray to the right or the left.
If we allow Acts to speak, it has a strong prophetic voice. It prunes us. It calls us back to our foundations. If we believe Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8), and yet we arent seeing this same vitality, it challenges us to ask why?
Responding to Acts
If we knew for certain that God wanted to move through His people today in the same way as He moved through the early church, would we welcome that, and even seek His power? Would we be willing to humble ourselves and persistently pursue Him like Bartimaeus, the blind man who called out from the roadside Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! and then when told to be silent cried out all the more, Son of David, have mercy on me! His faith was aggressive, and refused to be denied (Mk 10:46-52). Would we be like that?
And if the Lords presence came in such power, would we be willing to pay the price? In truth, the Book of Acts is intimidating. Yes, they had power and fruit, but they also had trouble. Opposition arose quickly, so Acts also makes us ponder a deeper question, Are we willing to live like they lived? They studied the Word, endured in prayer, refused strife, sought holiness, and stepped out and obeyed quickly when they heard Him speak. Would we do that? As we read this book, the Holy Spirit will again and again tug at our hearts and ask those questions. May God give us the spiritual hunger and courage to say yes.
1) Think of a time when you know you experienced Gods power. Tell us about it.
2) Have you ever seen a healing or a miracle? Tell us about it.