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Acts: God’s Training Manual for His Church
As we begin to study the book of Acts, we will be doing so with new eyes. No longer will we be satisfied with the status quo, the academic understanding of simple facts about the early church and not about the power they exhibited in their lives. No, we want to know what the early church was like on the inside. What was their motivation for giving up all to follow Jesus? How and why did the Lord use them in such a powerful way that seems to be missing in how He uses us today? What did they have that we don’t? Or, what do we hold on to so tightly that they so willingly gave up for Him?
What are we missing? What are we not seeing in the Acts?
For openers, we fail to see the Acts as God’s Training Manual for His Church— which is exactly what it is. And if we view it as a training manual, then God must want our lives and His church to resemble the lives of those He reveals to us in the Acts. If you look closely, you will see Jesus commands His followers in the Acts to declare war on the kingdom of darkness, on Satan himself, and to be active in combat with the enemy just like He was while He was with us on earth (1 John 3:8). War is not pretty. It is not something we look forward to. It involves training, difficulties, fighting, weariness, injury, and often casualties. Yet, unfortunately, many of us today view the Christian life as a trip to Disneyworld, and not as a battle between light and darkness. And I’m not sure where our thinking about our life with Christ ran off the rails.
Secondly, we also miss the part about His Kingdom.
Acts: Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done
The Acts both begin and end with teaching about His Kingdom. First, the introduction:
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God – Acts 1:1-3.
And the last two verses in Acts:
Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him – Acts 28:30-31.
In fact, most of the preaching of Jesus was about His kingdom. But it was a kingdom endued with power from the Holy Spirit, the “promise of the Father” Jesus spoke about (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4). It was not a kingdom of mere words alone, but words backed by only what God can do and only through the power of God. And when God’s eternal kingdom collides with Satan’s temporal kingdom, we have war. Not a big war, more like a skirmish. Because God has already won.
And finally, to supposedly worship and serve God without the power He promised us through the Holy Spirit makes us not much more than the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. We know the Scriptures, as they did. But knowledge void of power makes our faith mere religion. And Jesus didn’t die to start a new religion. He died to defeat the kingdom of Satan and make all things new.
This takes power. It takes the same power Jesus has and the same power He gave to the early church in the person of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). And it is the same power that rests dormant in many of us today.
So join us as we begin to look at the book of Acts and pray for an awakening of the power of the Holy Spirit to turn our “world upside down” as they did in the early church (Acts 17:6). Rest assured, it should be a wild ride.