BULLETIN ARTICLE – 7 January 2018
When did you last read an exciting book? A book that races through different countries and cultures, through different scenes, through the years, through the lives of different characters, a book with a clear mission to do the impossible against huge odds and a book whose last chapter is still being written? Such a book is the Bible book of Acts.
The book of Acts is part of a two-volume work. The author is Dr Luke, a physician and a companion of Apostle Paul. Acts was probably written between AD 62 to AD 64 during the time of Paul’s house arrest in Rome. The first volume is the Gospel of Luke. Both volumes are addressed to “the most excellent Theophilus”, most likely an educated Greek aristocrat so that he can be certain in his faith by showing that it is based on reliable witnesses and a firm historical foundation and the power of God. Acts is the account of the apostles work in the early years of the church after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. Hence, the title of the book is often called “The Acts of the Apostles”. It is perhaps more fitting to title it “The Acts of the Holy Spirit at work through the Apostles” fulfilling Jesus’ promise to dwell in the lives of the apostles through the Holy Spirit. (John 7:38,39; 14:16-18; 16:7-15)
The central theme of the book is Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The purpose of the book of Acts is to show the Holy Spirit at work through the apostles and the Christians in the early church. It shows the explosive growth of the early Christian church during the first 35 years after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. It shows God’s sovereignty in the face of a hostile pagan world and amidst severe persecution and hardship. It is the story of how the Holy Spirit changes lives from the inside out, a story of how these transformed lives made a difference in the world that is felt right to this very day all over the world.
In the book of Acts, we will encounter a transformed Apostle Peter as he assumes leadership of the early church. We will witness the martyrdom of Stephen (one of the Seven). We will see the change from the Pharisee Saul, a persecutor of the early church, who presided over Stephen’s execution by stoning to a zealous disciple of Jesus. We will experience Peter’s greatest sermon given at Pentecost. We will follow Paul through his three missionary journeys to reach out to the Gentile nations. The book of Acts emphasises evangelisation as the primary task of the church. This book will call you to a renewed experience with God the Holy Spirit. It will challenge our church to be like the first century church with its focus on evangelisation and disciple-making. How will we individually and corporately respond to it?