The first few verses of chapter one constitutes an introduction to the book of Acts, giving us the key to the book. Here we have revealed the essential strategy by which Jesus Christ proposes to change the world, a strategy which is the secret of the character of the church when it is operating as it was intended to operate. I strongly suspect that most Christians suffer from a terrible inferiority complex when we confront the world around us. We have bought the idea of many around that the church is quite irrelevant, an archaic group that is irrelevant today. That view is false. The church is the most important body in the world today because whatever happens in the world happens because of something that is, or is not, happening in the church.
Now, in his first statement here, Luke gives us the great strategy by which the Lord works among mankind. He says, “In my former book…I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach… ” The Gospel of Luke is the record of the Son of God. Jesus, the man, came to begin something, to do and to teach, and the record of that beginning is in the Gospels. But this second book is the continuation of what Jesus began to do. In a very real sense, Acts is not the acts of believers, but the continuing acts of Jesus. It is an account of what Jesus continues to do and to teach. In the Gospels he did it in his physical body of flesh. In the book of Acts he is doing it through the bodies of men and women who are followers of him and endowed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Whenever God wants to get a message across to men, he does not simply send someone to announce it; his final way of driving it home is to express the message in flesh and blood. He takes a life and aims it in a certain direction and, by the manifestation of his own life through the blood and flesh of a human being, he makes clear what he has to say. That is the strategy of the book of Acts. It is the record of followers of Christ endowed in the Holy Spirit; men and women, owned by him, and thus manifesting his life. That is the secret of authentic Christianity. Anytime you find a Christianity that is not doing that, it is false Christianity. No matter how much it may adapt the garb and language of Christianity, if it is not the activity of human beings possessed and indwelt by the life of Jesus Christ it is not authentic Christianity. That is the true power of the church, as we shall see in this book.
The book of Acts therefore is an unfinished book. It is not finished but is still being written. The book abruptly closes with an account of Paul in the city of Rome, living in his own hired house. It just ends there as though you might turn over the next page and begin the next adventure. What is your act?
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- What is your act?
- How would you rate yourself as a follower of Christ? What role does the Holy Spirit have in your life?
- Looking at Acts 1 what do you find the disciples of Jesus doing? What is their mission? What is their hope? Is this an appealing group to be a part of? Explain.