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Recognize The Ripple Effect

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Acts 1:1–9 KJV 1900
The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

Introduction

What’s Making that Sound?

Students facing away from you. Crinkle a candy wrapper or some things I brought with me to class and ask the question.
After showing them what was making the sound ask: how does sound travel from the object to your ears? in waves that vibrate in the space between.
As sound travels, one molecule vibrates a neighboring molecule until the vibration reaches your ears. As we begin out study of Acts, we’ll learn how the events described started vibrations that have traveled all the way to our church.

Background of Acts

What might a local church history reveal? A local church’s history reveals God’s hand in establishing the church , the sacrifice individuals and families made to establish it, and perhaps the consequences of failing to pur Christ above all else.
How might learning out church history affect our part in out church today? It could help us appreciate the church and better understand its purpose and mission.
Each individual church has a unique story, but the history of the church in general traces back to the coming of the Holy Spirit, and to Christ establishing the church. Luke wrote about the foundation of the church and its early days in the book we call Acts. This is what we will study not only in Sunday School but in the coming focus semester. So you will get a heavy does of Acts in the coming months.

A. Author

Along with Acts, Luke also wrote the gospel that bears his name. His writing account for about 25% of the New Testament, yet his name appears in only three passages (Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:11; Philemon 24).
Colossians 4:14 KJV 1900
Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.
How might Luke’s thought processes have been influenced by his work as a Doctor? As a doctor, Luke regularly examined evidence and drew conclusions based on facts. He sought to know and understand the truth. He also had concern for the well-being of others.
Luke did not witness many event in his Gospel and some of the Acts. Under the Spirit’s guidance, he used careful skills of observation and research to produce his writing. In the book of Acts, he didn’t refer to himself by name, but he did use first-person pronouns when he was an eyewitness to the events he was describing.
Acts 20:5 KJV 1900
These going before tarried for us at Troas.
Luke understood that spreading the gospel is more important than anything else. He made himself available to God. God used him in tremendous ways.

B. Date

The omission of Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70 strongly suggests that Luke wrote the book fore that event. Also, Luke did not mention the severe persecution under Roman emperor Nero that occurred from AD 64 to 68. And he didn’t record the outcome of Paul’s Roman imprisonment. Paul’s release happened in AD 62 or 63. It is likely that Luke wrote Acts before Paul’s release. So Luke probably wrote in AD 62 or 63.

C. Literary Style

If you go Luke 1 and read the first four verse then read these verses in Acts you will see how these passages relate. Acts is essentially the second volume to the Gospel of Luke written to the same man.
Luke and Acts are both narratives. They tell true stories. Luke addressed both books to Theophilus. He was most likely Greek. His name means “lover of God,” and his mention is a clue that Luke probably wrote to Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians.
Luke’s updates on the progress of the early church serve as main markers in his narrative. These markers emphasize the theme of Christ’s work to build His church through the power of the Spirit. They remind readers that nothing could stop Christ from accomplishing His work.
As a narrative, Acts also had structure. The story follows an outline. Luke laid out the overall structure of his narrative in Acts 1:8.
Acts 1:6–9 KJV 1900
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus instructed his disciples to spread the good news of salvation through Him starting with Jerusalem and moving outward, like widening ripples, to the regions of Judea and Samaria and then on to the ends of the earth.
from Jerusalem, where the disciples were, to Judea, Samaria, and eventually to the outer regions of Italy, Spain, and nothern Africa.
Luke developed his theme with four main plot points. He described how the church was born on Pentecost in Jerusalem with the coming of the Spirit to indwell believers. As persecution increased, the church grew beyond Jerusalem and into Samaria and eventually throughout the entire Mediterranean area. Luke used Jesus’ instructions and corresponding order of events to give structure to his narrative.

Purposes of Acts

There are multiple purposes for Acts. First, the book outlined the beginning and growth of the church. Luke established that the church was born and that nothing could impede its growth. As mentioned in the last point the book is dotted with statements about the onward movement of the Word and the church. The birth and growth of the church directly fulfilled Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16:18.
Matthew 16:18 KJV 1900
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Some people today view the church as a place for believers to retreat and form a type of defensive huddle. But Jesus’ commission and the book of Acts show otherwise.
Second, Acts legitimized taking the gospel to the Gentiles. The good news of salvation is for all nations, but the Jewish Christians in the early church had trouble accepting that fact. Prior to the church, God had focused on His promises to the Jews. The book of Acts recorded teachings and actions that demonstrated to the Jewish Christians that God expected them to reach Gentiles. God even clearly appointed Paul to be His apostle to the Gentiles.
Third, Acts proved that the church was the new vehicle through which God would accomplish His purpose on earth. Stating with the coming of the Holy Spirit, the early church was God’s new arm in the world. This is an important doctrine for us to understand today. The Church was not replacing Israel but they rejected the Messiah, God set the nation aside for a time and formed the church to spread the message of redemption through Jesus. God still has plans for Israel in the future.

Key Emphases in Acts

Three key truths are emphasized in the book of Acts.

A. Jesus is Alive

Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension are foundational to the church. Jesus didn’t abandon His church when He left the earth. Instead, He worked through the Holy Spirit to build his church had promised.

B. Jesus is on with his Church

Luke emphasized that all believers have the Holy Spirit and that all believers share a oneness with Jesus. For example, when Ananias lied to Peter in Acts 5, Peter said that he had lied to the Holy Spirit.
United in Christ, the disciples immediately began to meet for worship and fellowship. Jesus prayed in John that the church would be one as He and the Father are one. The early church demonstrated the oneness of Christ and the Father.
John 17:21 KJV 1900
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

C. Jesus’ Gospel is Powerful

Luke showed that the Spirit uses the gospel to transform lives. For example, on the day of Pentecost over three thousand souls were saved and transformed
Acts 2:41 KJV 1900
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
And Jesus’ disciples had incredible boldness as they proclaimed the gospel despite persecution.
The gospel’s power affected men, women, and children of all ethnic, economic, and social backgrounds. Both Jews and Gentiles came to Christ. Even Saul, the most dangerous man to threaten the early church, trusted in Jesus for Salvation.
When have you witnessed the power of the gospel?
Believers gave to know the gospel, live the gospel, and share the gospel.
God entrusted us with power of the gospel. Its potential resides in us. It will remain dormant, though, if we don’t prepare to share it and live it.
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