A God of No Limits!
Luke… our writer of a two part narrative. It is narrative in nature, NOT to be dismissed as “just stories” but God unfolding for us His plan for the progression of the Gospel! These narratives demonstrated for the early church and the church over the ages the TRUTH! Luke 1:4 “so that you may KNOW the TRUTH about the things you have been taught” Luke ends his first account with what the church has come to title “The Great Commission” Luke 24:44-49
Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. “You are witnesses of these things. “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
The unfolding of the Great Commission is profoundly misunderstood in the western discipleship model. The concept of the worldwide multiplication of churches has been reduced to a worldwide multiplication of individuals. Our western individualism has reduced the formation of true Christian communities to the multiplication of individual disciples. Fellowships of churches have been replaced by fellowships of individuals and small groups driven by organizational purposes and agendas. The church is often reduced to a place we attend ...” ~Jeff Reed
I feel we have come to a place in our christian circles where we are far more comfortable “playing church” rather than stepping out and “being the church”!
As we look over the book of Acts as a whole today, I want to challenge us to BE the church.
Remember… Jesus told Peter and the other Apostles, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it!” Jesus lays out His plan for building up His church in Acts 1:8
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Jesus has set forth the plan of action and He calls you and I to follow His plan. As we look at the book of Acts we see this unfold.
The Unfolding of Acts 1:8
The Unfolding of Acts 1:8
Ch 1-7 Church Established in Jerusalem
2 years span
Peter is leader
In Ch 7 Stephen is martyred for his faith
Ch 8-12 Church Scattered to Judea & Samaria
We begin to see persecution begin more
Spans about 13 years
We see Peter and Philip extending out to share the gospel (MAP)
Gentiles now begin to be introduced to the gospel!
We see Saul become a follower of The Way… first designation of Jesus’ followers.
“I am the Way the Truth and the Life”
As it spreads we see for the first time the title “Christians” (Acts 11:26)
We see the followers of Christ becoming a very distinct group...
Towards the end of this section we see Herod inflict greater persecution on the church…
Those who were there spread back to homes and across the earth
View Map of Acts 2:7-11 (some may have already gone home, others now fled back!)
They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? “And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”
I love the fact that even before one journey out of Jerusalem took place… Jesus was reaching the WORLD with the gospel. “I WILL BUILD”
Ch 13-28 Church Extended to Ends of the Earth
This section spans about 15 years or so
Gentiles now seem to be the predominant individuals who are being reached with the gospel… it is spreading!
Paul becomes a significant figure in this portion and a prominent leader in the church as an apostle
We see Three Mission Journeys of Paul in this section (SEE MAP)
NOTICE: These areas were where people were from back at Pentecost too!
Also as you read through Acts you will study 3 distinct missionary trips, BUT GOD...
Paul also has an all expense trip paid for by the Roman government to stand trial as a prisoner before Caesar!
The Narrative Progression
The Narrative Progression
Remember this is a narrative that Luke is writing… as he does so he recaps the progress of the gospel for us at some very key points and gives a “Progress Report” a snap shot so to speak…
Acts 2:46-47 The one-mindedness sets them apart, fellowship is from the start… and the Lord is working
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 6:7 it was God’s Word going forth, holding power, the strength of the Jerusalem church was growing
The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.
Acts 9:31 We see the Lord expanding the reach of the Gospel, God was providing the increase
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.
Acts 12:24 even in the midst of persecution… God’s Word advances and is not hindered!
But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied.
Acts 16:5 we see a spread of the church, we see churches in regions and areas being strengthened in their FAITH… Growth was still occuring! These churches were not playing church, they were BEING the Church.
So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.
Acts 19:20 God’s Word cannot be stopped, it holds power… even over the Roman Empire!
So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.
Acts 28:30-31 The gospel still goes on… The End is yet to come!
And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.
Charts… Overview… Sections… History… Powerful Stories and Events…
Jesus said… “I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH” look at HIS CHURCH just a little over 30 years after He makes that statement… (SHOW MAP)
This is not the work of just a few… This is the work of Jesus Christ through His Church.
Oh Church… people of Grace Bible… People of God listening...
As we go through Acts I want you to realize this:
We cannot limit what God can and will do!!!
He is building His church and He desires to use us! We need to start BEING the church!