ACTS: God's Mission to the Ends of the Earth
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Jerusalem was buzzing. Many before had claimed to be someone great — but once they were killed their followers scattered and nothing came of the movement they started. But something different happened with Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was unjustly tried and killed; yet, instead of causing the Jesus movement to disperse, it exploded. Within a matter of months of Jesus’ death there were thousands of Jews worshipping and following the commands of Jesus. Why?
“This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” In Luke’s previous book, he recorded the things Jesus began to do and teach to provide certainty of the things God had been accomplishing among them. Now that Jesus is ruling at the right hand of the Father, Acts continues where Luke’s first volume left off — providing assurance that, despite messiness and tribulation, the crucified and risen Jesus continues to fulfill the Father’s mission through the Holy Spirit who Jesus has given to the church.
Acts is often read primarily as source material for questions regarding a number of “issues” - including laying on of hands, gifts of the Spirit, baptism, church organization and government, etc. Though we can learn about these things in a secondary way, answering these questions was not Luke’s primary intention. Instead of primarily using Acts to nail down “issues,” we will instead…
- Perceive into how Luke crafts his account as a fulfillment of God’s plan — in the order of Isaiah’s prophecies, other scriptures, and Jesus’ life
- Draw parallels between the theoretical teaching of the epistles and lived-out the narrative of Acts.
- Be encouraged by and have certainty of the triune God’s mission: see how the Father, the risen Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit work(ed) to spread the good news of God’s kingdom on earth through the church.
- Be emboldened by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel of Jesus and increase God’s rule on earth.
- Repair broken versions of the gospel with the original good news of Jesus’ death and — most notably in Acts — his resurrection and ascension.
- Grapple with the need for tribulations to enter God’s kingdom — now inaugurated but not yet consummated.
- See how the original good news broke down barriers to form a united, though not uniform, church.