The church that Jesus commissioned some 2000 years ago was called to exemplify the life that Jesus had breathed into his disciples. The early Christians believed that Jesus was God in human flesh. He came to earth to show us exactly who God is, and what God was willing to do to deal with the problem of sin, which he accomplished through his death and resurrection on the cross. With His death, resurrection, and ascension, his mission on earth was complete, and he returned to his Father. But the ministry of proclamation and service to the world had just begun. He commissioned his disciples to continue that and as He said,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.”
So, he told them
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching those disciples to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
This commission was and is a formidable task. During Jesus’ life on earth, the scope of his influence was surprisingly limited. He conducted his public ministry for a very few years. He confined his travels to Israel, and he preached to the people and convinced relatively few. At his ascension, he only numbered 120 serious followers. Yet he commanded those followers to travel to every corner on the face of the earth and proclaim in word and deed the good news of His gospel.
The book of Acts simply tells the story of how the newly formed church and the Apostles and its early leaders and believers began to obey Jesus’ commands. He charged those early believers and those who would follow to finish what he had started. The church is called to function as a body, as it was a kind of an “incarnation” in this world. It’s as if He said, “because I can’t be there physically, I would like the church to take my place and do as I have done.” The book of Acts is actually the record of the early days of the Apostles, believers, and leaders of the church following the last instructions that Jesus had given before His ascension. The church was formed on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit empowered and spoke to and through those early believers. And after more than 2000 years it is the same that he is speaking to us. Are you going to obey, or disbelieve? It was the choice they had in the first century, and it is the same choice we have today. Technology has changed, but the heart of man hasn’t. So, the question to us is, what will you do?
Now may God richly bless your reading the book of Acts as it opens up to you.
Acts Chapter 1
The former account I made O Theophilus, lover of Theos, the Triune God, of all that Iesous, Jesus, began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through Pneuma Hagios, the Holy Spirit, had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen. To the same apostles also, after his suffering, with many convincing proofs, he presented himself alive. He was seen by them over a forty-day period and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of Theos, the Triune God.
And being assembled together with them, He commanded, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait there for what Patayr, My Father, promised, which you heard about from Me. For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with Pneuma Hagios, the Holy Spirit, not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Kyrios, Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “You are not permitted to know the times or periods that Patayr, the Father, has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when Pneuma Hagios, the Holy Spirit, has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”
After he had said this, while they were watching, he was taken up, and a cloud hid him from their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, suddenly two men in white clothing stood near them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Iesous, Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven.”
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying.
James, the son of Alphaeus
Simon the Zealot,
and Judas, the son of James.
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women and Mary the mother of Iesous, Jesus, and with His brothers.
And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples. (Altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty.) And he said, “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled. Which Pneuma Hagios, the Holy Spirit, spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Iesous, Jesus. For He was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his entrails gushed out. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem, so that field is called in their own language Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms,
“Let his dwelling place be desolate, and let no one live in it”
“Let another take his office.”
“Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that Kyrios Iesous, the Lord Jesus, went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” And they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabas who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Kyrios, the Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to assume the task of this service and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.