Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Acts: God's Mission Continues (introduction)

We're beginning a study of Acts on Wednesday nights. Acts is one of the most exciting books in the entire Bible. It is filled with examples of bold, passionate, prayerful, and effective Christianity. In Acts we see the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, repentant folk baptized, sick bodies and souls healed by faith, judgment fall on sinful believers, godly care for the poor, fearless proclamation of the Gospel, persecuted Christians rejoicing in their affliction, exorcisms, prophecy, visions, disagreements among Christians, and persecution at the hands of religious people.

Acts is a book about real life. It is no fantasy. It does contain elements of the supernatural, but, that's the stuff of real life. The same people who have bad moods also lay hands on the sick and heal them. The same people who get into disputes with their brothers and sisters also speak in tongues and prophesy.

The book of Acts is our history. It is the beginning of the story of the body of Christ and God's post-resurrection mission here on earth. I'm excited to be a part of the mission.

It's in these pages that God shows us the unstoppable nature of his church. As we join in God's mission we may not understand the details of what's going on or how it will all work out, but we see clearly that it will all work out. Nothing can stop God's church on his mission.

This is a book about God's works. We call it the Acts of the Apostles, but these acts are first and foremost God's acts. He is the one healing, baptizing in the Spirit, delivering from demons and danger, and empowering his church. Every mighty act of the book is done in the name of Jesus by people who are empowered by the Spirit.

God's church will not be stopped. Peter was imprisoned and sentenced to die. But that wasn't God's plan for Peter. Peter was indeed to die a martyr's death, but not until he was an old man. So prison bars couldn't hold Peter. He was delivered from prison by an angel. Paul was stoned to death, shipwrecked, snake-bitten, subject of assassination plots, mobbed -- yet he continued on mission. Herod killed James and accepted praise as a god and then died suddenly, but, "the word of God grew and multiplied."

I'm excited to dig deeper into this book.