GETTING THE MESSAGE/Acts 1:1-5
This week we will begin a study through the book of Acts. Acts is a historical narrative of the beginning and spread of the church. It is written by Luke, who also wrote the 3rd gospel. It is easy to see why the Lord chose Luke to write this account of his church. Luke is called the “beloved physician” by the Apostle Paul, and was a traveling companion of Paul’s for many years.
Luke, therefore, was an eyewitness to much of what he writes. He was a meticulous historian. He lists over 100 place names and personal names in Acts. Acts is written to show how the Lord built his church. In 1:8, he tells his apostles: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The gospel was first proclaimed in Jerusalem, then it spread according to the pattern the Lord said it would.
In verse 2, Luke mentions the resurrected Lord Jesus meeting with his apostles whom he chose. The book of Acts is about the apostolic era. They were not self-appointed. They were given a unique office and gifts to proclaim and validate the Lord’s word. There have been no other apostles since this first generation, as there has been no other Scripture since the New Testament was written in the apostolic age. Any religious word in disagreement with the apostolic gospel is not from God.
In verse 3, Luke tells us the Lord met with his apostles on different occasions after his resurrection, before he ascended into heaven. Luke tells us it was after his “suffering” or passion. He presented himself by “many proofs.” He ate with his disciples in his resurrected body. They could touch him, talk with him, see his wounds, and so on.
Luke means to give Christians intellectual certainty, infallible proofs, of the Lord’s birth in this world, his sinless life, his suffering, atoning death, and his resurrection and ascension. There was eyewitness to all these things.
Luke also tells us the Lord spoke with the apostles about the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is the reign of Christ, his redemptive rule and purpose in this world. The apostles had expected a conquering, ruling Messiah to quell Israel’s enemies as the prophets had written. They thought this would solve all their problems. Jesus explained that the prophets had indeed written of him, but also had written of his suffering and death. He had to help them understand this.
We think we know what we need God to do for us. But unless we understand the Lord’s passion, his suffering for us, we have no understanding about ourselves and our need. The redemptive reign of Christ is about saving people from their sins, bringing them out of the kingdom of the devil in to the kingdom of God; out of darkness into light, out of death into life.
When you read the sermons in Acts, the death and resurrection of Christ is central. It is emphasized that Christ is the only Savior; there is no other. All who do not have Christ will perish. Christ’s kingdom grows when sinners hear and believe the good news of peace through his death.
The Lord promises in verses 4-5 the help the apostles must have. When he ascends into heaven, the Father will send the Holy Spirit just as Jesus had promised in John 15.
Jesus commands them to wait in Jerusalem until that day. The power of the Holy Spirit is magnified in this command. He will reveal the glory of Christ. The apostles were a small band with no money or power of their own. Yet Acts is the story of the church and the word of God multiplying despite massive opposition. The growth was men believing in a crucified, resurrected Lord.
The Spirit of Christ is also manifested in the holy boldness of the apostles. They did not fear men; they proclaimed Christ as Savior and judge of all men. The apostles suffered greatly, yet had tireless missionary zeal, and love and joy in what they were doing.
If you have faith in Christ, be thankful for the Spirit’s work. God is not our God by common gifts and graces. It is a supernatural work that God does. A humble, broken heart that embraces Christ is more than all the wealth and worth in the world which belongs to a proud heart, never broken. It is the poor in spirit who inherit the kingdom of God.