The opening 3 verses of the Book of Acts set the stage for the incredible story of the Church.
All right, you may or may not know this movie trivia tidbit, but every single Star Wars movie opens up in the exact same way. Okay? The screen is filled with a picture of outer space. And then seconds later, a sentence comes across the screen in blue font, and it says, A long time ago in the Galaxy far away.
Then those words fade off the screen. When they fade off the screen, two things happen simultaneously. The Star Wars theme music comes on through the speakers, and the Star Wars logo comes on the screen. And then it begins to fade into the distance, into space. Then after that, you begin to see some yellow words come up from the bottom of the screen several paragraphs, and they roll up the screen slowly.
And then they fade away, too, into the background until you can't read them anymore. When all those words finally disappear from view, then the movie starts. This is the way that every Star Wars movie begins. And the introductory paragraphs at the beginning of Star Wars play an important role. Believe it or not, they provide the viewer with important information about the movie.
When you read these words at the beginning of Star Wars, they fill you in on some events that have already happened in the timeline of the story. They highlight events that have already taken place in the past. And knowing these things helps you better understand the context of the movie that you're about to watch. I'm going somewhere with this. Tonight.
We are starting a brand new sermon. Verse is the book of Acts, and we can see the exact same pattern unfold for us at the very beginning of this book. Acts opens in the same way that every Star Wars movie does. Luke not Skywalker, but Luke, the beloved physician and travel companion of the Apostle Paul and the author of Acts, writes to a man named Theophilus. In the first three verses of Acts, Luke writes to Theophilis, and he highlights some events that have already happened in the past in order to help prepare Theophilis for what he's going to experience in the book he's about to read.
So let's jump right into Acts chapter one in verse one, and I'll show you what I mean. In Acts one one, Luke writes, I wrote the first narrative, Theophilus, and just stop right there. In just a few opening words, we noticed Luke point us back to something that has already happened. If you'd like to underline things in your Bible, underline the phrase the first narrative in verse is Lucas pointing Theophilus back to the first literary work, the first story, the first account, the first narrative that he wrote. Interestingly, this work that he points Theophilus back to is a work that Luke also wrote to Theophilus.
So here's a Bible trivia question for you. Does anyone know what Luke's first narrative is? Luke the Gospel, the gospel that bears his name. The first narrative that Luke wrote. The narrative that he's referring to here in Acts One.
One is the Gospel of Luke. Now here's another question. What do you think Luke's implying in the phrase the first narrative? Well, if there's a first narrative, then that implies that there's also a second narrative. And the fact that Lucas referring back to his Gospel as the first narrative indicates to us that the Book of Acts that he also wrote is the second narrative.
So go ahead and write that down on your outline as your first filling. The Book of Acts is a narrative. The Book of Luke and the Book of Acts are two volumes in the same work by the same author, written to the same recipients using the same literary genre. Biblical narrative is a particular genre of literature found in the Bible. The Bible is one book, and at the same time, it's a compilation of 66 different books.
And some of the books in the Bible are written in different genres or literary styles. The Book of Acts is biblical narrative. There are a couple of things you should know about biblical narrative. First, it's historical. The Book of Acts is an historical account.
Acts is going to teach us about the early Church. The first four books of the New Testament known as the Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John take us from the time of the birth of Jesus all the way up until his death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven. Then the Book of Acts takes the baton, so to speak, from the Gospels and records some of the pivotal events that happened in the approximately 30 years that transpired after Jesus was raised. Studying the Book of Acts will help us understand this part of history, but it does more than that. Studying the Book of Acts will also give us a better understanding of the rest of the New Testament as a whole.
The Book of Acts is the only piece of biblical literature that we have that connects the events in the Gospels to the things that we read about in the rest of the New Testament. Imagine for a second if we actually didn't have the Book of Acts in the Bible, what kind of hole that would leave for us. Imagine we went straight from the end of the Gospel of John right to the beginning of Romans. If we didn't have the Book of Acts in between, we'd have such a big gap in time and events that we will be scratching our heads by the time we got to the Epistles. If we jump straight from John to Romans skipping Acts, we'd be super curious to know who this Paul guy was, who all of a sudden disappears on the scene out of nowhere, and who's Timothy and Apollo and Priscilla and Aquila.
These names come up in the later writings of the Epistles, but we were introduced to them for the first time in Acts. We didn't have the Book of Acts and we were reading the letters in the Bible written to the churches in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, Philippi and Thessalonica. We'd wonder how the Gospel reached them. How did the Church get planted in these places? Luke tells us an Act Axe details for us how the Gospel traveled from his birthplace in Jerusalem to these areas and the effect that it had on the people there.
Axe is going to teach us history of the early Church. So biblical narrative is historical and it's also theological. Luke's a theologian at heart and his book is telling us about the work of God in the world. Luke has a wide variety of theological interests, such as how God's plan is unfolding in history or the movement of the Holy Spirit as the Gospel covet into new areas of the world. As we study the Book of Acts, we are going to learn about God.
I hope that goes without saying, but it never hurts to state the obvious. Acts is a biblical narrative and this narrative is both historical and theological. That's the big picture. Let's dive in a little deeper. As we read on in our text, Luke gives us a clue to what his book is about by once again pointing us back to something that's happened in the past.
We read verses one and two for you. Luke says, I wrote the first narrative Theophilus about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up, after he had given instructions through the Holy Spirit to the Apostles he had chosen. So again, if you like to underline things in your Bible, underline the phrase all that Jesus began to do and teach, or if you just want one word began, because here we see Luke do it again. He's pointing us back to things that have happened in the past in order to get us ready for what we're going to encounter in the upcoming narrative that will unfold in Acts. He points us back to get us ready for what lies ahead.
Luke points us back to the things that Jesus began to do and teach. These things that Jesus began to do and teach took place within a specific time period in verse is Loop ties these things to the phrase until the day he was taken up. These things that Jesus began to do and teach took place between the time he started his public Ministry all the way up to when he went back to heaven after his resurrection. These things that Jesus began to do and teach happened over a period of three years. And Luke says that these are the things that he wrote about in his first narrative in the gospel that bears his name.
And we come to another implication here. The word began here in verse is of our text implies something. It implies that there are some things that Jesus only started and that he would still continue to do those same things at a later time. Lucas telling us in verse is that from the time Jesus began his public Ministry to the time he was taken up to heaven, he did and taught certain things. And then starting from the time he arrived back in heaven; he continued to do and teach those same things.
That's what's implied. And it's those things that Luke records for us in the Book of Acts. That's what the Book of Acts is all about. This is going to be your next filling on your outline. The Book of Acts is about all that Jesus continued to do and teach.
It's about all that Jesus continued to do and teach. Now, I don't know about you, but I have some questions about this - three of them, to be exact. Number one, if Jesus began things in Luke and then continued those same things in Acts, was there anything that Jesus actually finished during his earthly life, or was it all left open-ended? Two, what are the things that Jesus did and taught specifically? What did Jesus specifically do and teach in the Book of Luke that we see him continue to do and teach in the Book of Acts?
And number three, how does Jesus continue to do and teach anything on Earth after he ascended to heaven? I get that he could do stuff while he was here physically on Earth. That's not a stretch for me. But how can he do those same things when he's gone? We're going to address the first two questions now in this message.
We're going to hold up and wait to address this third question next week. Did Jesus finish anything in his earthly life, or was all of his work left open-ended because he only began things? Was Jesus just a starter but not a finisher? Not even close. Jesus finished stuff.
He finished big-time stuff in a big-time way. The Bible tells us that Jesus finished all that the Father gave him to do. In what's known as his high priestly prayer. In John 17, Jesus prayed these words to the Father in verse four. They're on your outline, Jesus says, I have glorified you on the Earth by coveting the work you gave me to do.
Every single task the Father gave the Son, the Son did perfectly to completion. In this sense, there was nothing left undone, nothing to continue. And this goes for the work that Jesus did on the cross too. While on Earth, Jesus made full provision for the Salvation of the entire world. There was nothing left for Jesus to do when it comes to making forgiveness of sins available to the world.
He died for all sins, for all time while he hung on the cross. And when he finished paying for the sins of the whole world, he let us know he was finished by saying these words while he hung on the cross. Recorded for us in John 1930. Also on your outline, when Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, It is finished. Then he bowed his head.
He gave up his spirit. So, if Jesus completed everything the Father gave him to do during his time on Earth and he did, then how could there be anything left for him to continue doing after he rose from the dead and went back to heaven? Here's a simple illustration that I think will show how a person can be finished doing something and then still continue to do more of the same thing. A kid delivering newspapers has several different neighborhoods on his route. This kid delivering newspapers finishes delivering papers to a particular neighborhood, but then he continues to deliver papers to another neighborhood.
He completely finished his job in one area. Then he went on to do more of that same job in a different area. He finished, and yet he still had more to do. In the Gospels, we see that Jesus finished everything perfectly in the three years he had in Judea and the surrounding areas. He finished everything he could do in a certain place at a certain time and to certain people.
Then in the Book of Acts, we see him continue to do those same things for the next 30 years in new places that he hadn't been to yet in a different time period, to different people. Jesus finished, and yet he still had more to do. Let's move on to our second question, and I wanted to give you a heads-up. I'm going to spend the majority of the time we have remaining answering this one question, and it's this. What did Jesus specifically do and teach in the Book of Luke that we see continued to be done and taught in the Book of Acts, this phrase, all that Jesus began to do and teach, really jumped out and grabbed me while I was meditating on these first three verses in Acts.
This phrase produced in me a curiosity, and I wanted to know specifically what these things were that Jesus did and taught. I was hoping to come across the answer in my study using the various commentaries that I have access to in the Book of Acts. But none of the commentaries I read told me specifically what those things were. They gave some generic answers, but I wanted more than that. So, I'm going to tell you what I did.
It took a long time, but I read through all of Luke, and every time I read something that Jesus did or taught, I wrote it down with its scripture reference. I started with two categories, one for the things that Jesus did, the other for the things that Jesus taught. And after I went through all of Luke, I went to my list and tried my best to gather together similar theme verses so that I could see if there was a pattern of specific things Jesus did and taught after I did that for Luke. I repeated the same process in the Book of Acts. Then, when I was done in both Luke and Acts, I compared the lists that I've compiled from each of them, and then I looked for similarities between them.
And if I saw the same thing in both Luke and Acts, I reason that those were the things that Jesus began to do and teach in Luke and that he continued to do and teach in Acts. And here's what I found. Starting with the things that Jesus did, I found seven of them, seven things that were done in both Luke and Axe. Number one Ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, there aren't a ton of verses given to this truth, but I'm not as concerned with the quantity of verses as I am with how central this truth is and the role that it plays in both Luke and Axe.
Before Jesus began his public Ministry, before he performed any of his works, and before he taught anything to anyone, he was first filled with and then led by the Holy Spirit. Even though Jesus is God in the flesh, he did not start his public Ministry until the Holy Spirit came upon him at his baptism, which is recorded for us in Luke chapter three, verse 22. Then everything he did after that was done because the Spirit had come upon him. And we see the exact same pattern in Acts. The Apostles did not begin their public Ministry in Acts until the Holy Spirit first came upon them at Pentecost in Acts two, verses one to four.
And then from there, the Holy Spirit led them in their Ministry. So that's number one. Number two, prayer is the second thing we see done in both Luke and Axe. I'm not going to spend any real time on this point here, but one of the most important things that Jesus did during his earthly life was he prayed. We see this in Luke's Gospel, and we see prayer highlighted consistently throughout the book of Acts two.
Number three, there was constant traveling. Now, there were times when people came to Jesus to see Jesus. Lots of times that's not surprising when you know the kinds of things that Jesus did and said, those kinds of things will draw a crowd at any time in any place. And Jesus, if he was here today, would draw humongous crowds. But we need to see that Jesus was anything but stationary in His Ministry.
He didn't set up a home base and then cement himself there while people from all over flocked to him. He didn't do that for the duration of his Ministry. Instead, he made it a priority to go to people. He was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, but Jesus went all over Judea and the surrounding areas. During his three year public Ministry, Luke tells us that Jesus went into the wilderness.
He returned to Galilee. He came to Nazareth. He went down to Capernum, he went to a town called Nain, he sailed to a region of the garrisons. He returned to Capernaum, he withdrew to a town called Bethesda. He went to Bethany, he went to Jericho and he went to Jerusalem.
These are some specific places Jesus went to, but I really love the summary verses Luke gives us describing Jesus constant travel. In Luke, chapter eight, verse one, and in chapter 13, verses 22, Luke says that he traveled he Jesus traveled from and through one town and village to another. And Luke 1910 is so sweet. It says that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came to seek people.
Jesus actively went to people. We see this in Luke, and we see the same kind of activity in the Book of Acts, too. Here's the travel itinerary that we see in Acts. Philip went to Samaria, to Gaza, to Azatos. Peter went to Lydia, to Joppa and to Caesarea and back to Jerusalem.
Barnabas went to Antioch, into Tarsus. Apollos went to Ephesus, into a Kia. Agabus came down to Caesarea. Paul. He wished he had air miles back in the day chamomiles for Paul.
He went to Jerusalem more than once, to Tarsus, to Lystra, to Athens, to Corinth, to Caesaria on more than one occasion, down to Antioch, through the region of Galicia and Phrygia, to Ephesus, to Greece, through Macedonia, to Troas, to Asos, through Midaline, to Chios, to Malibu, to Malta and to Rome. And these are just the instances where we see people go places individually by themselves. We also see people travel in groups of two or more. Peter and John went to Samaria. Judas and Sylas returned to Jerusalem.
Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus. Paul and his companions came to Purga, continued to Passidian. Antioch, ended up entire came to Potolemus, went to Caesarea, went up to Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas and others went through Phoenicia and Samaria to Jerusalem, went back to Antioch. Just Paul and Barnabas together went to Jerusalem, went down to Seleucia, then to Cyprus, traveled the whole island as far as Papos, went to Iconium, went to Derby, went to Lystra.
Iconium and Antioch passed through Psidia and came to Pamphilia, went to Italy, went back to Antioch. Paul and Silas traveled through Syria and Solicia, through Ampiphilus and the Polynesia and came to Thessalonica and they went to Bureau. Paul and Timothy went to Derby, to Lystra. They went to the region of Phrygia and Galicia, went to Maizer, went down to Troas, Paul, Timothy and Luke went to Philippi, Paul, Priscilla and Aquila went to Syria and to Ephesus. Timothy and Erastus went to Macedonia.
A whole bunch of unnamed believers were scattered as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antiochus and unnamed prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antiochus. That's a lot of people going, a lot of places going action, movement towards people. We see it in the Gospel of Luke, and we continue to see it fill the pages of the Book of Acts. Now, before I move on, let me talk to those of you who may be starting to freak out a little bit. Where is God going to call me to go when we hear this list?
This itinerary going is a dominant theme in Luke and Acts. You cannot escape that fact, but you need to understand that not everybody went. Most people who became Christians in the time period that Acts records stayed where they lived unless persecution scattered them. And they lived their new Christian life in plain view before their fellow countrymen. In the cities where they already dwelled, most didn't go to new places.
The majority stayed and was the Church, but some went. There was always a contingent that was going, and you can't miss that. So chances are statistically that God won't send you to a new place to do his work. The odds are low, but they aren't zero. But I hope that puts some of you at ease enough four in both Luke and Axe, we see Ministry to people.
In the Gospel of Luke, we see that when Jesus went to people, he didn't spend his time twiddling his thumbs. When he got there, he actively ministered to them. There were times when he ministered to large crowds, and there were times when he ministered in more personal settings. He spent time with tax collectors and sinned, and he spent time with Pharisees too, and he spent the bulk of his time ministering to his disciples. Jesus Ministry included, but was not limited to, preaching, teaching, eating with, giving personal commands, delegating authority, commissioning, sending out, rebuking, blessing, and promising.
Jesus did all of this during his public Ministry described for us in Luke, and we see the same Ministry done in Acts. In Acts, various sizes of crowds were ministered to, and people were ministered to individually as well. All types of people were ministered to, from Jews to Gentiles to the sick to jailers to Royal officials, Amen and women, young and old, rich and poor. And again the disciples were ministered to as well. And this Ministry included the same things we see Jesus do in Luke.
Preaching, teaching, eating with, giving personal commands, delegating authority, commissioning, sending out, rebuking, blessing, and promising Ministry to people began in Luke, and it continued in Acts. The fifth thing that we see Jesus do is the one that he is probably the most known for miracles, and Luke Jesus performed all kinds of miracles and lots of them. Luke 440 says he healed various diseases. Luke chapter six, verses 1819 says he healed crowds of people. Luke 721 says he healed many people of diseases, afflictions, and evil spirits, and he granted sight to many blind people.
And in Luke nine, verse eleven, he says he healed those who he needed healing. Jesus cast so many demons from many people, he exercised power over creation. Jesus healed so many different kinds of bodily ailments. He healed a fever, a withered hand, a woman's bleeding, a man whose body was full of fluid. He made a man's ear appear after it was cut off with a sword, he made paralyzed limbs begin to work again.
He opened blind eyes. He healed leprosy with a touch and a word. And if all that wasn't enough, Jesus raised people from the dead. In Luke chapter seven, he raised a man from the dead. In Luke chapter eight, he raised a girl from the dead.
And Luke in Luke chapter 24, he raised himself from the dead. We see that Jesus began to do miracles in the Book of Luke, and we see that he continued to do miracles. In the Book of Acts, Luke gives us a few verses that summarize the miraculous works that were done. In Acts Acts 243, many wonders and signs were being performed through the Apostles. Acts 516, multitudes of sick people were healed.
Acts six eight. Stephen performed great wonders and signs. Acts 14 three. God enabled Paul and Barnabas to do signs and wonders in Iconium. In Acts 1911 to twelve, God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul's hands so that even face, cloths, or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick and the diseases left them scattered.
Throughout the rest of Acts, we see multitudes of demonized people healed. Power was exercised over the created order. Various bodily ailments were miraculously healed. And just like we saw in Luke in Acts, people were raised from the dead too. Acts in verses 41, Peter raised Dorcas to life from the dead.
And in Acts chapter 20, verse ten, Paul brought Eutychus back to life. We see miracles begun in Luke, and we see them continued in Acts number six. Now this one action, I confess, is technically a bit of a stretch if we're keeping this a list of the things that Jesus did. But I'm going to show you something so that can be seen plainly in both Luke and Axe. And although they're not necessarily actions Jesus did, they are actions others did in response to him.
People responded to Jesus' actions so we could call this category a variety of responses that Jesus produced. We could still pin it on him somehow because that's what Jesus did, he did the stuff that produced the responses that we're going to see these responses would he happened in people if Jesus did not do the things that he did? Jesus produces a response wherever he goes. He is not a neutral figure. He is polarizing.
And people responded to Jesus in either a positive way or a negative way. There was little, if any, vanilla response to Jesus. In Luke's gospel. We see people captivated by and astonished at his teaching. People were amazed and astonished with his power.
Fear and awe came upon people because of what he did. Crowds rejoiced over the glorious things that he was doing, and people glorified God because of him, and some people praised Him. These are some of the positive responses Jesus produced in people throughout his earthly Ministry. But if you've read the Gospels for any length of time, you know that not everyone became Jesus' number one fans. Luke tells us in his Gospel that Jesus made some people mad at Him.
His adversaries were humiliated by him and they challenged him. Some people devised crafty schemes against him. Jesus was persecuted, he was arrested, he was mocked, he was beaten and they killed Him. The actions of Jesus produced a wide array of responses in the people who experienced what he did. Some people loved him and some people hated Him.
You're not going to believe this, but these various responses to him that we see in Luke. We also see in the Book of Acts. In Acts we see a ton of positive responses, specifically in response to the words that were spoken. Luke tells us in Acts that crowds paid attention to what Philip said. Every preacher's dream.
All who heard Paul were astounded Sergius. Paulus was astonished at the teaching of the Lord, that people wanted to hear more about what Paul was saying. And the next week almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of the Lord. The Gentiles rejoiced and honored the word of the Lord. The Briens received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures to see if what was said was true.
Some people in Athens wanted to hear more about what Paul said about the Resurrection. And then there were things that were done in the Book of Acts and these things that were done left crowds astounded and amazed says Some people were filled with awe and astonishment. At times the believers experienced favor and joy and peace and hospitality and encouragement in response to some of the things that they were doing. Some people spoke well of the Church. Some people praised and glorified God.
There were some incredible responses to what Jesus was doing throughout the Book of Acts, make no mistake about it. But then we also see a ton of negative responses produced in people too. There are so many negative responses and Acts that I felt the need to break the types of negativity we're going to see into three progressive levels of intensity. Level one, we're going to see negativity expressed at the emotional level. Level two, negativity expressed at the vocal level, and then level three, negativity expressed at the physical level.
At the emotional level, we see that some people became jealous. There were a couple of times in Acts where the Jews were jealous of the crowds that came to hear Paul and some people got really mad. Those that heard Stephen were enraged at his preaching. Some people got so mad that they wanted to kill people. Acts five, three, the religious leaders were enraged and wanted to kill the Apostles.
Acts 22 22. The crowd wanted Paul dead after they heard what he said. This is intense, but note that anger is still a first stage emotion. Jealousy and anger are some of the level one responses. These weren't all that bad when you think about it, at least when you compare these responses to some of the other ones, you're going to hear about in a second.
Because there were times where the responses of the people graduated from mere feelings to vocalizing. The responses of people were spoken out loud. At times, those doing the Ministry of Jesus were at times oppressed, confronted, ridiculed, resisted, contradicted, threatened, and slandered. The disciples had to deal with false Gospels being spoken in response to the true gospel that they were trying to proclaim. At times, the disciples were ordered to stop preaching.
False accusations were brought against them. Some people were stirring up other people against the disciples. This happened a lot. In Act Six, they stirred up the people against Steven. In Acts 13, the Jews incited the prominent women and leading men of Passidian, Antioch to persecute Paul and Barnabas.
In Acts 14, the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the Christians. In Acts 19, Demetrius stirred up the people of Ephesus against the Way. In act 21, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the temple in Jerusalem and stir up the whole crowd against him. The Jews conspired to kill Paul on numerous occasions. Their murderous intent went from the emotion of rage to thinking and planning out loud how the murder could be accomplished.
And we're still at the vocal level of intensity right now, by the way, can you see that it's heating up? Level one responses were emotional. These level two responses ramped up and became vocal. Level three responses were the most challenging because these escalated from the vocal to the physical. Acts 81 says the believers minus the Apostles, were physically scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria.
Because of persecution, the disciples were often apprehended and or arrested. They were beaten at various times. The Jews attempted to kill the disciples numerous times. In Acts Nine, the Hellenistic Jews tried to kill Paul. In Acts 14 five, both the Gentiles and the Jews in Nikonia with their rulers, attempted to kill Paul and Barnabas by stoning them.
In Acts 1419, some Jews from My, Antiochus and Iconium won over the crowds in Lystra and stoned Paul, and they thought he was dead. In act 21, the Jews from the province of Asia saw that Paul saw Paul in the temple in Jerusalem tried to kill him by beating him to death. The Jews attempted to kill the disciples numerous times, and eventually some of their attempts were successful. In act seven, they dragged Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death. In Act Twelve, King Herod executed James with the sword and although not recorded for us in the Book of Acts, early Church history records all the Apostles dying martyrs deaths, except for John, who they tried to kill but unsuccessfully.
And in the first century, many nameless believers died for Jesus. This is heavy stuff and it begs the question gas is worth it when we see it was totally worth it when we note that the 7th action that we see Jesus do in both Luke and Axe is the making of disciples. In Luke, Jesus called people to follow him, and they did. There were people who believed in Jesus and left everything to follow him. People trusted in the one who is the way, the truth and the life, and they received the life that is found only in Jesus.
And even though we technically get the number from Acts, we are told by Luke that Jesus had about 120 believers following him. By the time we get to the end of the Gospel of Luke 120 disciples that's not too shabby. But you know what? By the time Jesus got to the end of Luke, he was just getting started, bringing people into his Kingdom. Listen to the spiritual harvest that is recorded for us in the book of Acts.
Acts Two verses 41 30 People became disciples of Jesus. Acts 247 says, Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. Acts 44 says more disciples were added. Acts 514 Believers were added to the Lord in increasing numbers, multitudes of both men and women. Acts 67 says the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly in number.
Acts 931 The Church grew in numbers. Acts 935 all who lived in Lidta and Sharon who saw Anaeus healed, turned to the Lord. Acts 942 the new spread throughout Japan and many believed in the Lord. Acts 1121 A large number of Greeks believed and turned to the Lord. Acts 1124 Large numbers of people were added to the Lord.
Acts 13:12 Sergius Paulus believed. Acts 13:48 People were saved in Pisidia, Antioch. Many Jews and Greeks believed in Iconium. Acts 1421 Many disciples were made in Derby. Acts 16 Five The churches were strengthened in faith and grew in numbers.
Acts 16:14 The Lord saved a woman named Lydia, a guard and his household came to believe in God. Acts 1712 Many Bereans believed the Gospel. Acts 1734 Some people in Athens joined Paul and believed. Acts 18 Eight Christmas, the leader of the synagogue believed the Lord along with this whole household and many of the Corinthians when they heard, believed, and were baptized in. Acts 28 24 says some were persuaded by what Paul said and believed.
Does persecution suck? 100% yes. Are negative responses to Jesus worth enduring if it means there could be a harvest of souls like we see in the pages of Acts 1? 100% yes. Jesus did some incredible things in the first narrative of Luke, and he continued to do the same things in the second narrative of Acts. But remember, Jesus didn't only begin and continued to do things in Luke and Acts. Luke says that there are things that Jesus began to teach in Luke and that he continued to teach those same things in Acts.
I'm going to go through these things that Jesus taught rather briefly, not because they're less important than the things Jesus did, but because Jeff did a series a few years back titled I Am Jesus, where he took the Church through the four Gospels chronologically and the teaching of Jesus in the Book of Luke can be found there. You can go online to Gospel City's website, listen to any of those sermons. I will highlight for us, however, the overall content that Jesus taught in both Luke and Acts, so that you can see the continuity. Here are four things we can see taught in both books. Number one, scripture is authoritative.
Scripture is quoted so heavily in both Luke and Acts, and it is pointed to in both as being authoritative. Number two, Jesus is the Messiah. He is the fulfillment of all that the scripture wrote concerning the coming of the Messiah. Jesus says that about himself in Luke and his followers say the same thing about him in Acts. Number three, the Gospel.
In Luke, Jesus points ahead to his upcoming death, burial, and resurrection numerous times. And in Acts, the believers continually point back to the historical life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and they call people to believe it. And number four, the Kingdom of God, what it is, who's in it, who isn't, how to get into it, how to stay out of it, how citizens of the Kingdom are to live, who the King is, and signs of its coming. To name a few of the overarching themes regarding the Kingdom of God. These are the things that were taught in both Luke and in Acts.
Okay, let's finish this off. Acts, chapter one, verses three, let me read this for us. After he had suffered, he also presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of 40 days and speaking about the Kingdom of God. So again, you got your highlighter ready underlined the phrase in your Bible. He also presented himself alive to them.
This is now the third time. Luke points us back to something in the pastor so that we can understand more fully what we are going to be reading in the pages ahead. In verses three, Luke points the Theophilus and us back to the Gospel. Jesus Christ died on a Roman cross. His body was buried in a tomb.
He rose on the third day from the dead. He appeared to many people by many convincing proofs. Over a period of 40 days, the Apostles saw Jesus. They touched him, they ate with him. They sat under more of his teaching for 40 days, Jesus was alive.
After he was dead. The resurrected Jesus appearing to his disciples affects all of the events that we read in Acts. None of what we read in the Book of Acts would have happened if Jesus didn't rise from the dead and appeared to his disciples. None of it. If Jesus didn't rise from the dead and appeared to his disciples and give them teaching and instructions, they would have stayed in hiding for fear of the Romans and the Jews.
And then after some time had passed, they most likely, I'm speculating, but they would have most likely would have gone back to their old lives. We get a taste of that. We see. They tried to some of them went fishing again. These lives that they were living three years earlier before Jesus called them to follow him.
They probably would have went back to those Peter, Andrew, James, and John probably would have picked up their fishing nets again. Matthew might have tried to weasel his way back into the tax collecting business. Simon probably would have gone back to join his zealot buddies to do zealot things. But they didn't go back to their old lives. Why not?
Because Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them and gave them instructions for their lives, instructions that they followed. And we see them follow those instructions in the Book of Acts. Additionally, nobody would have heard the Gospel and gotten saved in the Book of Acts. If Jesus is still dead in the tomb. If Jesus is still dead, there's no gospel and there's no power to save anyone.
But because he rose, he has secured Salvation as a free gift to whoever would receive it. And that's the message and the power that the Apostles carried with them in Acts. In verses three, Luke points us back to the resurrection of Jesus to show us that everything that happens in Acts happens only because Jesus is alive. This is your third and final filling on your outline. We see God's power in the Book of Acts only because Jesus is alive.
Earlier in the message, we learned that biblical narrative is both historical and theological. But there's one more thing that biblical narrative is. It's also inspirational. I opened with the movie reference. I'm going to close with one too quick show of hands.
Who've seen the movie Braveheart 60% this will still work. I'll describe the screen for you. I want you to consider what the final scene in Braveheart can do to a person who watches it. The Scottish leader William Wallace was captured by England and he was going to be executed for treason in front of a large crowd before the execution began. The torturer gave Wallace a chance to end his pain and suffering before it ever started.
He said to him, Follow your knees now. Declare yourself the King's loyal subject and beg his mercy and you shall have it. If Wallace took that offer, he would have been executed quickly and painlessly, but he declined the offer and they proceeded to torture him. As Wallace is being brutally tortured, his torturer whispers to him again and gives him a second chance. He says it can all end right now.
Peace. Just say it. Cry out. Mercy. Cry out.
Just say it mercy. People in the crowd see what's being done to Wallace. They start crying out mercy to end it. A few seconds pass. Then it looks like Wallace wants to say something.
The prisoner wishes to say a word. Everyone becomes silent. You can hear a pin drop. Then the moment happens. Everyone expects Wales to ask for mercy.
And no one would have held it against him if he did. But instead, with all the strength that he can muster, he cries out at the top of his lungs, the word freedom.
And that cry rang out throughout all of England and all of Scotland. That moment captivated the hearts of his fellow Scots. And though under man, they eventually won the battle against England and they won their freedom. And I'll tell you something. When I watch that scene in Braveheart, I am moved to the core of my being.
I am moved so much that if I had the chance, I'd lay down my life for Scotland's. Freedom too. That's how much the story captivates me. That's the power that a narrative can have. It can inspire people to passionate action.
That's what the Book of Acts can do to a person or a group of people. That's what I hope it does for us. My hope is that what we encounter throughout our study and Acts will captivate our minds and our hearts and our whole lives and draw us into the story of God as active participants in it. The same powerful story we see in Luke and then in Acts has continued to be written throughout the ages up to this very day. The same powerful things that Jesus began to do and teach in Luke.
He continued to do and teach in Acts, and he is still doing and teaching those same things today. May we be captivated by these things in a way that moves us. May we be a Church that gives everything we are and everything we have so that we can be a part of that same story, too. The Book of Acts can inspire people that way. And I pray it does.
You bow your heads with me. Let's pray and invite the worship team to come up.
I just want you to do it, Jesus. I just want you to do it. Whatever you have to do in the hearts of individuals scattered across this room and whatever you need to do in our heart, collectively as your body here in Port Coquitlam, as a small Church called Gospel City Church, you've proved that you don't need vast numbers and smart and talented people and a lot of power. All you need is people that are going to say yes to whatever you ask us to do, Lord. Make us that people bring us, Lord again and again to the end of ourselves.
Pry our grimy little fingers off of our lives and let us lay the totality of our lives at your feet and say to you, King, master and Lord, do what you will forgive us, Jesus, for being satisfied with an impotent kind of Christianity and I confess, Lord, we don't move your hand we don't make you do anything you're pleased to move in your sovereignty but I know in my life I've just been complacent so often I get used to it and I settle, Lord I don't want to settle anymore give me the words to speak and give me the conviction to do the things that you did and said the things that the Apostles did and said Give it to us and not for our sake we know that we're going to experience life and abundance and joy and astonishment if you do that in us but it's not for our sake that we ask it, Jesus we ask it for the tens of thousands of people who are dying and going to hell in Port Coquitlam because they haven't received the gospel do that in us, Jesus for their sake we pray and whatever you do like you always do, Jesus just make sure that you take and keep and get all glory do it, Jesus we pray in your name Amen.