Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Parthenon at night

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Nov 13, Acts 1-3

Today's readings are Acts 1-3.

The primary function of Acts in the Bible is frequently misunderstood. Acts is, to the New Testament, what the two books of Chronicles are to the Old Testament. Chronicles is the story of the period of Israel's history dominated by the kings of Israel. Acts is the story of the formation of the first-century church. Written by Luke, initially as one volume combined with his gospel, Acts begins immediately after the resurrection and tracks the major events impacting the new church through 60-65 AD, just before Paul's martyrdom in Rome.

As such, we should be careful deciding what events portrayed in Acts are indicative (prescriptive) of the healthy Christian life and which ones are descriptive of the unique period immediately after the resurrection in which the church is being formed and established.

Acts 1 starts in Jerusalem where the disciples are told to wait for the Holy Spirit who will empower them, making them witnesses in "Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria. and to the end of the earth." This pattern will become the template for how the Spirit and gospel move out from Jerusalem after Pentecost.

Acts 2 documents the arrival of the promised Holy Spirit at Pentecost. His presence transforms the disciples from a group of scared, apprehensive people into bold proclaimers of the gospel and powerful, authoritative teachers of God's word. God makes it possible for people of all nations to hear and understand the gospel, a clear indicator that the message of redemption is for all nations. 3,000 people are saved as a result of their preaching. Immediately, we see the role of the Holy Spirit. God devises the plan of redemption, Christ actualizes it, the Holy Spirit draws men into it. We must be careful not to over-emphasize the work of the Spirit, but we should be equally careful not to minimize it, as well. While the Spirit's primary role is to bring glory to the Son, He does some other tasks in accomplishing that goal. One of His responsibilities is to bring unity to believers (Acts 2:42-47).

Acts 3 sets a pattern for ministry. Signs and wonders are manifested before those who are lost. They are always followed by authoritative teaching/preaching of the word which leads to some of the lost being saved. It is clear that the signs and wonders are present to give credibility to the teaching which is focused on presenting the gospel.

We should never lose sight of the fact that the miracles were always a sign that led to the preaching or proclamation of the gospel or one of its primary facets. If we read the miracles performed by Jesus and the Apostles in context, we can see three commonalities;
  • They are never done apart from being a witness to the lost
  • They never occur on the demand of the crowds or the religious leaders
  • They are never given as proof of the power of Jesus. They may be evidence of His power but never offered up as proof to those who demand it. 

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