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A New Beginning


Acts 1:1-14


First Scripture Reading:  Acts 1: 1-14

The passage I have read introduces us to a book called by the earliest Christians, “Acts,” and often called the “Acts of the Apostles.”  I believe it would be more accurate to call it the “Acts of the Holy Spirit.”  While the Apostles “acted,” they did so under the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Literarily, this most excellently written account of the early church ends with no concluding summary statement.  In 28:30, we read that Paul was “on parole” as we would say today, living in a rented house and proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom.  End of story, no summary statement, just dropped off without even a concluding salutation.  Why?  Because the “Acts of the Holy Spirit” or the “Acts of the Church” continue even into today.  The final chapters are still being recorded, as the Church continues to evangelize (tell the Good News) to the world, until Jesus comes to take all His children home.


Luke is the human author.  Outside of Job, he is the only Gentile author of Holy Writ.  This is significant since the Gospel is not just for the Jews, but for the whole wide world.  Good News for everyone, Christ has provided salvation for sins and a place called His Kingdom for all who believe.  That Kingdom is to come in its fulness when Christ returns.


Luke writes to Theophilus, a name meaning “God-lover.”  He is titled “most excellent” in Luke’s Gospel, a title given to high officials like Senators or Superior Court Judges.  He appears to be a convert, probably Gentile, who wants to know about Jusus’, work and His Church.

For us, it tells how the “church” survived and thrived during the first thirty years of its existence.  We learn from it many practical things about evangelism, missions, church organization, and so on.  But most importantly we learn things about our own mission of the earth.


1.      We believers are the continuation of the work of Jesus on the earth.  Notice how in 1:1, Luke tells that his Gospel told how Jesus BEGAN his work.  Then in 1:8 Christ tells how we are to continue His work as His witnesses.

 

2.     We do our work using the power of the Holy Spirit.  The work of this “Church” (see Matt 16:18-19) He founded was to continue the work of Christ by the power or energy of the Holy Spirit (1:8).  It is interesting that the same command by Jesus in Matt 28:19 uses the word “authority” instead of power/energy.  Both are true.  Christ gives you both authority (permission) to spread the Word, as well as the energy or ability to do so.  But both are done through the Holy Spirit.

 

3.     Our primary goal is to be “witnesses” of what we have learned or experienced about Christ from His Word, from our experiences with Him, and His inward leading of us, through His Spirit.  A witness simply tells what he/she has seen or heard.  They do not need to be elaborate speakers, or to create new ways to say or do the “story telling.”  They do not need to argue a point against disbelievers.  They merely tell what they have seen or heard.  We are called to be witnesses.

 

4.     Our mission is complete only when everyone on earth has heard the Gospel message (1:8b).  We start as witnesses to our own “hometown” so to speak (Jerusalem).  Then our nation, both to those who are like us and those who are not (Judah & Samaria).  We may do this individually, but this is a “collective” command.  As we spread out geographically, we keep on witnessing.  Finally reaching the ends of the world (earth).  This we do corporately.  Some may be called to do so individually, but no one has completely reached the whole world individually.  Again, to contrast Act 1 with Matt 28.  Acts tells us to reach the entire globe (earth) while Matt 28:19 says to keep witnessing to the “end of the age,” or till time runs out.  We are to witness all over the globe to the “end of time.”  Again, both are true.


As we see in this passage, God has given each one of us a command to be witnesses where we are.  He also gave us the power to do so, by His Holy Spirit.  God put us in the situations we are in, and gives us people to meet and talk to and influence.  We are to use our opportunities to reach others with the love of God.

 

God Bless.  

CH Jim Odell

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