TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26
SCRIPTURE: Acts 1
Today we begin a journey through another book of the Bible. I have chosen Acts. The Gospels give us a historical record of the time Jesus spent on this earth. The book of Acts gives us the history of the early church. It is an incredible story.
The book of Acts is actually The Acts of the Apostles because the story of the birth of the church is frequently told through their actions and words. Interestingly enough, after this first chapter, none of the original twelve disciples except for Peter and John are actually mentioned by name.
This book is written by Dr. Luke, the same guy who wrote the Gospel of Luke. Both the book of Acts and Luke’s Gospel were written to someone named Theophilus. Although we are not sure who he actually was, Luke really wanted him to know about the story of Jesus and the church.
There is another housekeeping duty that we need to take care of. Sometimes people wonder how the books of the New Testament were selected to be in the New Testament. I don’t have room here to talk through all of that. But there is one aspect that I do want to bring up. All of the books of the New Testament were either written by an apostle or have an apostolic authority. For example, Mark (who wrote Mark’s gospel) was not an apostle. He wrote under the apostolic authority of Peter. In the same way, Luke was not an apostle. He wrote under the apostolic authority of Paul.
As chapter one opens, Jesus has been with His people for 40 days since the resurrection. He wasn’t with them every moment of the day. In fact, He appeared to them at various times. But when He was with them, He was busy strengthening their faith by giving them many proofs of His identity.
His final words to them before His ascension were to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come and then go conquer the world with the Gospel. If you look at the Act 1:8 model, they were to take the Gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. From that perspective, we are the ends of the earth. The reason we have the Gospel in our nation is because those original disciples were faithful to carry out the Great Commission and commands of Jesus. Now we have the opportunity to reverse that progression and take the Gospel back into the rest of the world.
At Jesus’ ascension, angels appeared to the disciples. Their promise even as Jesus was being physically removed from them is He would return in the same way. Jesus really is coming back.
There is one last piece that I might have room for. It has to do with the selection of Matthias to replace Judas as one of the original twelve. Verse 26 says they cast lots to decide between Matthias and Joseph called Barsabbas. Believe it or not, that was a lot like throwing the dice to see who got the responsibility.
As odd as that sounds, it was a very common thing in the Old Testament. There is much evidence that God controlled how the lots fell so that His people would know His way. Since the Holy Spirit would not be given until Acts 2, the only method the apostles had to determine God’s will in this situation was through the casting of lots. But don’t miss the fact that in verse 24, they prayed before they continued.
Now that the Holy Spirit has been given, He directs our paths and our decisions through the Word of God. Among other things, that means we don’t throw the dice to decide what to do next anymore.