Acts: The Gospel Goes Global
Acts: The Gospel Goes Global
As Christmas has passed us we are now looking forward to the New Year and with a New Year brings a new series. Let us introduce our series with a quote from Winston Churchill (or George Santayana, depending upon who you talk to, regardless the quote is a familiar one you should recognize) that says,
“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
There is an important lesson in this statement, isn’t there? We can’t forget the lessons we have already learned or we are going to have to learn them again the hard way. This statement assumes the negative though, doesn’t it? It assumes that repeating history is bad and says that those who have not learned from it will be doomed to face it again. But what about a history that is full of blessings, grace, achievements and accomplishments? Wouldn’t we want to repeat that kind of history?
We pose this question b/c we are about to start a study through the book of Acts. Acts is a recorded history of the early church from the moment that Jesus left and returned to Heaven to about 30 years into the life of the church. What we see in this history is how God began to build His church and we see a history that we most certainly would love to see repeated as ordinary men and women were used of God to accomplish amazing things for His glory. So we could really take that quote we started with just a moment ago and flip around as we consider our study of Acts. We could say,
“Those who don’t learn from history won’t have an opportunity to repeat it.”
Our goal as believers is to be used by God in mighty ways and there is much that we can learn from the book of Acts and the early church in this regard.
What Can We Learn from Acts?
What can we learn from the book of Acts you ask? Great question! TThere is a lot, but let me frame our series with 2 big focuses. Firstly, we should see a lot of ourselves in the book of Acts. The book of Acts records the history of the birth of the church. As a young church ourselves who have only been together for a little over a year now we are still in our infancy as well. As a young church we will be looking at the church in its infancy to learn from their example. The book of Acts does not paint a picture of a perfect church, but it does show us the ups and downs of the early church. We see how God uses men and women and it should give us direction on how we can be used of God as well as enjoy His grace in Jesus Christ.
Secondly, we not only want to look and see what God has done in the past so we can learn from it, but we need to see what God is still doing in the present and what He is still working towards. The work that God was up to in the book of Acts is the work that is going on today. Nothing has changed. God’s mission hasn’t changed. As a young church we need to be sure we have captured the vision and the mission that God has us on. What we are going to learn is that the church is not a weekly Bible study group. We are not a social club where you can make good friends. We certainly encompass those things, but beyond that we a group of people who are following Jesus and Jesus has sent us out on a mission as His witnesses. When we lose sight of the mission we have been called to we lose sight of our true identity. The book of Acts will show us a church that is tuned in to living out this mission.
So that is what I think we are going to get from this study. Our prayer is that we as individuals and as a church family will be changed in this way.
How Will We Study Acts?
Now that we have that overview, you may be looking at the book of Acts and thinking to yourself, “how long is this going to take?” Yet another good question. The book of Acts is not a short one. It is 28 chapters in length and some of those chapters can be lengthy. With that said, I want to share how we are going to tackle this book. If we were approach this study the same way we have approached other books we have studied, like 1 Timothy, 1 John or Colossians and work through this book verse by verse and look at a paragraph each week we could easily be in the book of Acts for 5-7 years. That is a pretty long study! So we are going to approach this book differently in a couple of ways.
First, we are going to take larger chunks of Scripture than we normally do each week as we study. Acts is a narrative so a lot of the story that Luke is recording does not need a lot of explanation, it speaks for itself. And in order to not be in this study for 5-7 years we are choosing not to get bogged down in all the details this time around. So there are some weeks we will come into a passage and not deal with everything that we possibly could. We are going to leave some meat on the bone. This is ok. We will be back to pick it up another day. We just want to give the warning now so when we walk through this passage at this high level you know why we are coming at it like we are.
The second way that we are going to approach this series a little differently is that we are going to break it up. We currently plan on getting through the first 9-10 chapters of Acts in about 5 months. Some time towards the end of May we will take a break from Acts and jump into another series. We will then jump back into Acts in the fall or around New Year’s the following year. B/c this is such a big book we thought it might be nice to not try to tackle the whole thing at one time and use those breaks that we take to study other passages of Scripture that have different focuses to give us a balanced diet. So this means we could be working on the book of Acts for a few years, but it will be spaced out within those few years if that makes sense.
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