The Book of Acts, written by the gospel author Luke, is the record of the Acts of the Apostles, or in simple terms what the early followers of Jesus did after His death, resurrection and ascension. Luke’s primary aim of writing the book was actually set out by the words of Jesus: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The bold, faith-filled stories of the early church awaken us to the mission and focus of God’s Church. There is a sharpness and an effectiveness about the body of Christ that will be stirred as we hit on some key lessons we learn from the early church. The raw passion, boldness and urgency found in Acts is what we long to see awakened, showing us the “new normal” we believe God is calling us to as we are empowered by the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Kingdom is our Vision
As we take a bird's eye view of the book of Acts we believe that God will reawaken the mission of His church. We're expectant for the Holy Spirit to bring a fresh empowerment, a new urgency to mission, and a restored confidence in the gospel. The book of Acts starts and ends with this focus, a call to prioritise the Kingdom.
Resurrection is our Story
Resurrection is a persistent and predominant theme running throughout the Book of Acts. It’s inescapable. The apostles come back time and time again to the resurrection of Jesus. And wouldn’t you? If you had been there - living and following Jesus, witnessing his incredible life and ministry, weeping with the other believers over his death when suddenly he is no longer dead? Of course, you would tell and retell that story over and over again.
The Holy Spirit Is Our Fuel
Acts is a book filled with stories about the Holy Spirit, making up over a quarter of the references within the New Testament. Not only must we wait on the Spirit, we must go on being filled by the Spirit. Only two chapters after the iconic filling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the apostles are filled once again in Acts 4:31 'After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.'
You Are Called To Community
In Acts 2:42-47 we are presented with a church with commonality, an exceptionally fruitful community of believers who were one in heart and mind. Looking at the book of Acts we can often feel intimated rather than inspired. We live between the ideal and reality of what community actually looks and feels like - where discipleship happens. In todays culture of choice, what binds us together now, as it did then, is commitment. In the monastic tradition, individuals make a lifelong commitment to their monastery - choosing to stay put in order to get somewhere.
Prayer is Essential
All our lessons so far lead us to prayer. Acts 1:14 says 'They agreed they were in this for good, completely together in prayer, the women included. Also Jesus’ mother, Mary, and his brothers.' Prayer is a gift, a direct line to God. It is relational, not a means to pressurise God. It is an ever present resource, a direct petition to the heart of the Father which underpins our faith. Our prayer life must intertwine with mission and community, acting as a gateway into these two practices. The Book of Acts gives us perhaps the clearest example of what a praying community looks like.
You Are Commissioned To Preach
To preach; to utter a serious or earnest exhortation. Now usually derogatory: to give moral or religious advice in a self-righteous, condescending or obstructive way. Acts 1:8 lays down the gauntlet - will you be a witness? On Sunday we unpacked the myths around our commission to preach: You need to be a church leader. You need to know the Bible inside out. You need to have been a Christian for a significant length of time. You must be holy, perfect. Our lives must be overflowing with blessing. All these things simply aren't true.
The Workings Of God Are Wild
'The Spirit of God began to take hold of him' Judges 13:5. Throughout the library of scripture we are presented with stories that depict the wild and reckless love of God. In the book of Acts we can become confused, or even offended by the outrageous acts of a wild God. As we come close to the Bible, the living Word of God, we choose to resist or choose to submit. Ultimately we know that submission to the wild ways of God brings peace and contentment. At the time, however, it can feel like stepping out into the unknown.
Opposition Is Part Of The Game
Acts is a book of opposition. Wherever the apostles went there was a threat to their lives and wellbeing. Matthew 10:22 shows us that Jesus understood the severity of the situation the Early Church would find themselves in: "You will be hated by everyone because of me." As we read through the letters of the New Testament, words written by the likes of Paul, Peter, John and James - leaders of the Early Church - we uncover their approach to opposition.
Salvation Is To Be Expected
Salvation is to be expected. The book of Acts show us 'normal' Christianity. A Christianity in which faith is found on a daily basis, and the church grows exponentially. As we as a church develop a new confidence in the gospel message of Jesus, we can expect to step out of a spiritual winter and into a new season of salvation. Within Luke's gospel we read of countless parables about growth - a mustard seed that turns into a large tree, yeast which expands in dough. The Kingdom of God is built to grow.
Your Contribution Is Key
Over the past 12 weeks we have dived deep into the book of Acts and the story of the Early Church. We’ve been reminded of the roots of the movement of Jesus followers that we’re caught up in, we’ve been re-envisioned for mission and now recommissioned to bring our own individual contribution.