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The Book of Acts: The story of the Church

Scripture reading: Acts 1:1-11

This morning we are going to begin a 6 week study in Book of Acts

Introductory material

-Luke and Acts written by the same author (Luke) and comprises 28% of the New Testament
-Luke was a doctor, well traveled, and highly educated
-Luke functions as a church historian in that both his works reflect an outside perspective -- for he wasn't one of the 12 Disciples and he did a lot of research, collecting of material, and filtering of material in preparing for his books
-It is believed that Luke was from Antioch in Syria
-It's possible and likely that Luke was a Gentile-- which would make him the only Gentile contributor to the Scriptures
-Luke and Acts in terms of time of writing date to the 60's A.D
-Church history indicates that Luke's writings were received by the church without contradiction from the moment of it's publication. (Tertullian 160-225 A.D)
-Luke was Paul's traveling companion and was most likely Paul's personal physician
-The first few verses of Acts serve as a bridge between Luke and Acts--hence tying the two books together
-Both Luke and Acts are addressed to the same person---Theophilus. It is thought that Theophilus was a wealthy patron of Luke's.
-Theophilus' name means "One who loves God" or "Friend of God". Oh that this could be said of us. Ponder this: James 4:4b says; "...anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God"

The Book of Acts covers the first 30 years of Church History

In Acts 1:1 Luke says "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach." The church was started by Jesus. He is its founder. At the beginning of Jesus' ministry he called to himself 12 disciples. By the time Jesus ascended back to Heaven, the church numbered 120 people (Acts 1:15). Following the baptism of the Holy Spirit the church exploded in terms of numbers. On the day the believers were baptized by the Holy Spirit, Peter preached a sermon that led to 3000 Jewish people repenting of their sins and becoming the followers of Christ. Shortly after this the church had grown to 5000 people (Acts 4:4). This was all due to the working of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who heard Christ declared by the disciples and believers.

One of the big things about the church as recorded in the Book of Acts is that it shows the inclusion of Gentiles into God's Kingdom-- In great number. This fulfills the vision that God had for his Kingdom from the very beginning; wherein God said to Abram "All peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:3.

The Gentile aspect of the work of Christ is the great focus of the Book of Acts, for Paul is designated as the missionary to the Gentiles and for the bulk of Acts, this is the focus.

The key verse of the Book of Acts is Acts 1:8

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth"

Acts 1:8 reveals the primary emphases of the book of Acts

1. The role of the Holy Spirit in the life and ministry of the church
2. The mission and message of the church

I. ACTS 1:8 REVEALS TO US THE CENTRAL ROLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE LIFE AND MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you"

-The words "Holy Spirit" or "Spirit" occurs 64 times in the Book of Acts. That's a lot
-Note how the Holy Spirit is spoken of in Acts 1:2, 4-5, 8, 16
-The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit is God. He is the third person of the triune Godhead. He is the author of Scripture (Acts 1:16, 2 Peter 1:21). He was involved in the Creation (Genesis 1:2).
-By the Holy Spirit's indwelling of us who are the followers of Jesus, Christ's promise to never leave us or forsake us is kept (Matthew 18:18-20)
-At his baptism the Holy Spirit came upon Christ. From thereon Jesus spoke by the leading of the Holy Spirit, performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit, was directed as to where he should go by the Holy Spirit.
-As you may remember, before Jesus went to the cross he said "Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." John 15:26
-Jesus also taught that the Holy Spirit would teach his follower all things and would remind them of everything that he taught them. John 14:1617,26
-In Acts, Luke makes great effort to show that the same Holy Spirit who led, directed, and empowered Jesus, indwelt and empowered Jesus' followers.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is recorded for us in Acts 2:1-11 (READ)

Following the baptism of Holy Spirit the disciples were able to do the same things that Jesus did in his public ministry (miracles, signs, wonders, Spirit directed speech, led by the Holy Spirit). This reminds us of Jesus' words in John 14:12, wherein Jesus says; "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."

Note on the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

When a person turns to Christ in faith and repentance today, at the moment of their conversion, the Holy Spirit comes and indwells them. Unlike the experience of the first disciples, our reception of the Holy Spirit is in conjunction with saving faith.

Consider this verse. In Galatians 3:2; with some sense of frustration directed towards the Galatians, Paul asks; "Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?" The clear indication being that the Holy Spirit was received by faith at their conversion.

Application as it regards the Holy Spirit

Key: Without the power, leading, and direction of the Holy Spirit we will not be able to accomplish the mission that we have been given by Jesus

Are we surrendered to the Spirit's leading?
Are we listening to the Holy Spirit?
Are you exercising the spiritual gift(s) that the Holy Spirit has given you?
Are we reading His Word?
Do you recognize the essential role the Holy Spirit has as it regards ministry and the work of the Kingdom?

Some additional Bible verses on the Holy Spirit to consider

"Do not put out the Spirit's fire." 1 Thessalonians 5:19

"Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." Ephesians 5:18

"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." I Corinthians 12:7


II. ACTS 1:8 REVEALS TO US THE MISSION AND MESSAGE OF THE CHURCH

The MISSION of the church is to go into all the world as witnesses for Jesus.

This is Jesus' clear instruction to us. See Matthew 28:18-20.

We are Christ's ambassadors. As 2 Corinthians 5:20 says; "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God."

As you and I consider the mission Christ has given to us, we must answer a very personal question...

Am I participating in the mission of Acts 1:8? Am I being faithful as a witness for Jesus? Am I regularly telling or seeking to tell others of Jesus and the way of salvation?

In thinking of this, consider 1 Peter 3:15 which says; "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,"

If the answer is no for any of us, we must ask Christ's forgiveness and pray as the believers did in Acts 4:29 "...enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness."


The MESSAGE we are to take to those around us is this...

1. Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, come down from Heaven on a rescue mission
2. Jesus suffered and died as a sacrifice for our sin on a cross
3. Jesus is alive Acts 2:22-41
4. Jesus is the only way of salvation Acts 4:12; 3:23
5. To be saved one must repent of their sins and put their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord Acts 2:38

This message is called the Gospel

Note the boldness of those preaching and their not being bothered by those who rejected it or got mad at what they heard.

Texts in Acts 1-5 that give 100% support to the above points: Acts 2:11-42; 3:11-15; 4:1-12; 5:27-32


CONCLUSION

Acts is written by Luke, travelling companion to Paul, a doctor, church historian, himself led by the Holy Spirit

The key verse of the Book is Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth"

Without the power, leading, and direction of the Holy Spirit we will not be able to accomplish the mission that we have been given by Jesus

Are mission is clear and so is our message-- Jesus. Our response is to be obedience