We have two key objectives in mind. One, to grow closer to our Lord and experience the Higher Christian Life, or at least try to understand what the Higher Christian Life looks like in real-time. And two, to have our faith grow to the point we will be spiritually prepared for the chaotic times coming our way and the trials, tribulations, and persecutions, that will most certainly follow. These, in my opinion, are noble endeavors. And both of them can be fulfilled by studying the book of Acts and focusing on the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit in common men who lived under times far more chaotic than ours.
But if it is true the Acts is a training manual for His church and His revelation of what church should look like, then we need to ask some questions about what we read. For if we don’t ask questions, then how will we know when the Lord answers them? Here are some pressing questions we need to ask. We’ll start with chapter one.
• Who were the 120 in the upper room? What were they like? Where did they come from?
• Where were they when Jesus ascended into heaven?
• What, if anything, made them different from us?
• And what made the church in Acts different than the church in America today?
• In what aspect were they followers of Jesus? Was there a part of their life they kept for themselves or had they surrendered all to Him?
• Are we followers of Him in the same way they were followers of Him? Or do we follow Him differently today? And if we do, is it better?
• What was the overriding command they were given? How were they to fulfill that command? And did they even want to?
• What kind of power did they have that we seem to have lost? And how can we rediscover the power that lies dormant in the church, and in you and me, today?
• Do we really want to fully receive the “Promise of the Father” Jesus spoke about? Or is that a bit too radical for us? And if we do receive the promise, how would that change our lives?
• Do you think it is still possible for a small group of committed believers to “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) as they did back then? Or do you think that ship has already sailed?
• And if you do believe it is still possible, are you aware of the cost of being that kind of believer? Is it a cost you are willing to bear? Or a sacrifice you are willing to make? Is it something you want to do, something you are willing for Him to create in you? Or would you rather just pass?
• And finally, would you want to be a member of the early church? Or would you find it too intimidating, too convicting?
Whew. And these are just a few questions we want to know about the lives of those who made up the early church. For if we can see their commitment and sacrifice, maybe we can begin to be more like them.
But there is one other thing we will look at today. And it is found in the insightful phrase that describes the ministry of Jesus, “do and teach.”
The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach – Acts 1:1.
Note the order. Ministry first, theology later. Jesus was always doing first, and then teaching later. For our Lord, ministry preceded and produces theology, not the reverse. And His ministry was to do the will of the Father and out of this ministry emerges theological activity… later. It was never the other way around. Not for Jesus, and especially not for us. Or at least it should not be.
But that’s not how we do church in the West. It seems we have become teaching connoisseurs, and ministry wannabes. We learn, and learn more, and go from Sunday school to graduate school with all our church degrees, yet fail to put most of what we have learned into practice. Especially in the ministry of evangelism. Ouch. I know. That one stings.
So let’s look at what “do and teach” implies regarding the ministry of Jesus and see if we can understand the passion and power of the early believers to glean from them something we so desperately need. After all, they knew far less than we do. Yet they did so much more. How is that possible?
Let’s find out together, shall we?