The book of Acts is one of the most exciting reads you will ever come across: action adventure, good guys, bad guys, left for dead, miracles, jail breaks, courtroom drama, angry mob, shipwreck, dramatic monologues, and some of the most fascinating characters of the early church. The author, Luke, was the same Gentile doctor who wrote what is now the 3rd gospel – an account of Jesus’ life and ministry. Here, in the book of Acts, his story continues with the Acts of the Apostles – the story of the early Christian church age.
Luke opens his account in Acts with the crucified and resurrected Jesus appearing to his disciples for 40 days, speaking about the kingdom of God (1:3) – obviously a topic near and dear to Jesus – so it should likewise be a topic we are passionate about. Then, Jesus told his disciples, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (1:8). And as he ascends into the clouds, two men in white reassure the disciples that Jesus will return the same way that he rose. And, throughout the rest of Acts, we see what happens when Jesus’ witnesses are faithful.
The promised Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and they were able to do many miracles and wonders, even speaking in languages that men from all parts of the world would understand the good news of Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Most of the first half of Acts follows the disciples, particularly Peter, as they teach and preach and grow the early church. Even amongst strong opposition the church grows, with many new believers being baptized and committing their lives, homes, finances, and families to following Jesus. Some, like Stephen, even gave their life – as he was stoned to death for speaking the truth about Jesus, the Son of God.
Most of the second half of Acts tells the incredible – and true – stories of Paul. It starts with the conversion of Saul who was persecuting Christians. BUT – he changed and became the great apostle who went on 3 missionary journeys and wrote much of what would become the New Testament (but more on that tomorrow when we cover the 3rd Division of the NT – Paul’s Letters).
There are so many great passages in the book of Acts you just have to read it for yourself! Not only are there amazing action stories, but you also get some wonderful sermon snippets and see what is most important to the early church. You see their teachings, courage and priorities.
We are still waiting for that day when the clouds will part and our Lord and Savior will come down to greet his followers. What a day that will be! If you have read the gospels to see Jesus in action – then you are his witness. If you have felt Jesus’ peace in the storm – then you are his witness. May we be faithful witnesses ready for his return.