Acts 1:8 (NIV)
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.
We are finishing our study of Acts. In your opinion, what is the most important theme of the book?
- The coming of the Spirit
- The spread of Christianity
- The Old Testament fulfilled
- That Jew-to-Greek thing
- It’s all about the people
There’s no wrong answer here. And you’re allowed to change your mind.
We have looked at the people, the places and the themes of Acts. We also need a timeline, a chronologic order of the Acts of the Apostles and the Church under construction.
The Apostles didn’t post their acts on Facebook, and their letters didn’t come with copyright dates. Luke didn’t track their travels via GPS. The dates and places are not exact.
|30||Acts 1||Ascension & Great Commission
|Acts 2||The Holy Spirit comes|
|Acts 2-3||Ministry begins|
|32||Acts 4-7||Persecution follows|
|Acts 8||Witness spreads
· Ethiopia** **via the eunuch
|James is written|
|34||Acts 9||Conversion of Saul
|40||Acts 10-11||Outreach to the Gentiles
|46||Acts 13-14||Paul’s 1st missionary journey
· Antioch of Pisidia
· Iconium, Lystra,
|48||Acts 15||Council at Jerusalem|
|50||Acts 15-18||Paul’s 2nd missionary journey
|1 & 2 Thessalonians|
|55||Acts 18-21||Paul’s 3rd missionary journey
· Galatia & Phrygia
· Macedonia, Greece
|58||Acts 21-23||Paul in Jerusalem|
|59||Acts 24||Paul in Caesarea
|60||Acts 27||Paul sails for Rome
|62||Acts 28||Paul in Rome||Ephesians
*Note that the books are not in the Bible in the order they were written.
30 years and lots of activity—the Church was built in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Europe, Asia and even Africa. Written records were established. Paul shared the gospel with big political leaders (his goal—to take the message of Christ to Caesar, the most influential man in the world).
These weren’t random acts. They were planned by God from the very beginning. And written down for our benefit.
Hebrews 412 (NIV)
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The words we study in Acts (or anywhere in the Bible) have more power than anything else we read. They aren’t dead words on a page. They are God-powered words, words at work in your soul.
Let’s take an expanded look at our Hebrews verse.
Hebrews 4:12 (AMP)
For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The Holy Spirit is the hidden surgeon, and the Word of God is his scalpel. He is cutting out the cancer of false belief, he is repairing your fractured views and replacing those arthritic attitudes with indestructible truth. You may or may not notice.
Some of it is painful, as you fight to hang on to old ways. Some is gradual, chipped away bit by bit over time. And some is so wrapped in God’s love that you never notice – but others see the change in you.
In the operating room, the anesthesiologist oversees your breathing. Breathe in: inspiration. Breathe out: expiration
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The Bible is CPR for your soul. It isn’t a science text book, it’s not a political platform, it isn’t an investment portfolio. It is God breathing his life into yours. It is God equipping you to build his Church.
Did you notice God’s scalpel at work in you while we studies Acts? Any fresh breaths?
“I know the Bible is inspired because it inspires me.”
D. L. Moody (1837-1899)
Think back through the previous lessons.
Any notions about the early Church discarded along the way? Any adjusted attitudes or changed beliefs? Is God sending you someplace new? And what about the people of Acts? Did you come away less Sapphira and more Dorcas? Do you share Paul’s big dreams or Peter’s listening heart? Are you the mentor or the mentored? The one who prays or the one prayed for?
- Foundation of Acts
You are a living stone in the Church’s foundation. Are you an eager, cooperative stone?
- Prayers of the Apostles
Do you pray the way the Apostles prayed? They prayed the way Jesus prayed.
- Acts of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit fills all believers. The Holy Spirit fills you.
- Old Testament Acts
Don’t be just an A-B-C believer (After the Birth of Christ). Embrace the Old Testament!
- Acts Where?
It all started in Jerusalem. And spread to the ends of the earth. There’s a place for you.
- Acts in the Name of Jesus
There is power in God’s name. What do you do in the name of Jesus?
- Money Acts
It’s not about what you get, it’s all about what you give. Be extravagantly generous.
- Miraculous Acts
God uses you—with or without miracles—to build the Church.
- Acts of Peter
Simon hears God’s instructions, says, “I’m your man,” and builds the Church. Are you the man (woman) for the job?
- Acts of Paul
Paul was uniquely equipped to do the job God had for him. So are you.
- Supporting Acts
It takes a team to build the Church. Who’s on your team?
- Acts of Women
Sometimes the man for the job was a woman.
- Organized Acts
We’ve studied the people, places and events of Acts. God’s plan pulls it all together. Can you see it?
As we noted in the first lesson, Acts is an historical account. But it is more than that. It is direction for our lives. Inspiration. Our call to build the Church.
What’s your assignment?
Let us end our study of Acts just the way the Apostles started—with prayer.
Father God, I’m your woman (or man). I’m the stone you need for that foundation. Put me to work. Use me to build your Church, in the name of Jesus and by the power of the Spirit.