Faithlife Sermons

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! Introduction:
The book of Acts is an extremely exciting book.
Acts has it all—supernatural intervention, astounding miracles, powerful preaching, breathtaking escapes, harrowing journeys, life-and-death decisions, courtroom dramas, thrilling rescues, action, mystery, and adventure!
Acts will grab your attention, trigger your imagination, and tug at your emotions.
As we study through the pages of Acts, don’t miss the story behind the stories.
Underlying the sermons and the display of miracles, look for God at work in individuals.
In fact, as much as Acts could be called the story of the early church, I believe it could also be titled /“The Miracle of Changed Lives.”/
Consider this: When last we saw the disciples, they were running scared and abandoning their Lord (Matthew 26:56).
Fleeing, denying, disillusioned, and crying, these men seemed the least likely candidates to be boldly proclaiming the gospel.
Yet that’s what happened.
Peter, James, John, and the rest of the boys had been transformed from /cowardly to courageous, argumentative to articulate, and selfish to selfless/.
Then they were joined by Paul, whom God also miraculously transformed.
What made the difference?
The power of the Holy Spirit in the life of ordinary men and woman.
The main purpose of the book of Acts is to show how the Spirit of God worked through the early Church to spread the Gospel, starting in Jerusalem and eventually reaching all areas of the known world.
The following six minor purposes can also be seen for the writing of this book:
!!! 1.
It shows the history and activities of the early Church.
!!! 2.                   It shows what Jesus continued to do through the Church (Acts 1:1-3).
!!! 3.                   It shows how the Church grew numerically (Acts 2:47, 5:14, 6:7, 9:31, 12:24, 16:5, 19:20).
!!! 4.                   It shows how the Church grew geographically (Acts 1:8).
The Church started in Jerusalem and eventually reached into the known world.
!!! 5.                   It shows how the Church grew from a Jewish sect to include the Gentiles.
!!! 6.
It shows what power the Church used to accomplish the Lord's purposes (Acts 1:8).
As you read of the Holy Spirit, the gifts, persecution and power, Paul’s dramatic conversion, and the rapid spread of the gospel beyond Jerusalem and Judea to the ends of the earth, look for yourself in the stories.
*Ask God to transform you into the kind of person he can use to change /your/ world.*
!! B.                Luke wrote to Theophilus—reminded him of Jesus’ ministry (v.1a).
!!! 1.                  “The former account I made, O Theophilus…”  (v.1a).
!!!! a)                  The Bridge.
!!!!! (1)                 In the first sentence of this book, Luke makes it abundantly clear that he is the author of the third Gospel.
He dedicates both his Gospel and Acts to Theophilus, a Gentile convert to Christianity.
!!!!! (2)                 Although Luke refrains from mentioning his own name in either the Gospel or Acts, the style, vocabulary, and choice of words point to the same author for both books.
!!!!! (3)                 The first two verses of Acts serve as a bridge between the Gospel account of Jesus’ life and ministry and the historical account of the developing church.
In effect, Luke’s Gospel and Acts form one book in two parts; Acts is the continuation of the Gospel.
!!!! b)                  The Gospel.
!!!!! (1)                 Luke refers to the third Gospel as “the first book.”
!!!!! (2)                 In the Greek, the expression /former/ or /first/ signifies the first of either two or more items.
In this case, Luke writes only two books, the Gospel and Acts.
!!!!! (3)                 He distinguishes between the two documents by calling the first one the “former.”
\\ !!!! c)                  The Name      
!!!!! (1)                 Theophilus is called “most excellent Theophilus” in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:3).
!!!!!! (a)                 The words, “most excellent Theophilus,” are a title of rank and honor.
It is the same title used of Felix and Festus, two high ranking Roman officials (Acts 23:26; Acts 24:3; Acts 26:27).
Theophilus must have been a Roman official of high rank.
!!!!! (2)                 Theophilus was a personal friend of Luke, close enough to correspond with Luke about the Lord Jesus.
!!!!!! (a)                 He was either a man interested in knowing the truth about Christ or else a new convert who needed to be grounded in Christ.
!!!!! (3)                 Note: Luke did not address Theophilus as “most excellent” in Acts.
The title is dropped.
Why?
There are three possibilities.
!!!!!! (a)                 Luke and Theophilus were close friends, close enough to be on a first name basis.
!!!!!! (b)                Theophilus had either retired or been removed from office between the writing of Luke and Acts.
!!!!!! (c)                 Theophilus, having grown in Christ, had grown so loving and humble he did not want his title used among his Christian friends, not in times of personal communication and fellowship.
!!!!! (4)                 *Think About This: *This is a great lesson for us, a lesson of love and humility that is so needed by the world a lesson the Pharisees needed as well as us today *(Matthew 23:7-12)*.
!!!!! (5)                 The name Theophilus means “beloved by God” or “the friend of God.” 
!!!!!! (a)                 Some take this to be a general reference to any believer who might be reading this book, while most interpreters see this as a common name.
!! C.                Jesus’ work and teaching (v.1b-2).
!!! 1.                  “All that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day He was taken up…”  (v.1b-2a).
!!!! a)                  Until He was taken up and ascended (v.2a)
!!!!! (1)                 Christ worked and taught until He was “taken up,” into heaven.
He was faithful, using all He had for God until His life upon earth was completed.
!!!!!! (a)                 The believer is to use his gifts for God until he enters heaven:
*We need to be ready now *"Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’?
Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" (John 4:35, NKJV)
*There is coming a time when opportunities will be gone *"I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work."
(John 9:4, NKJV)
!!!!! (2)                 Jesus proclaimed the Gospel, healing diseases and the sick:
*Jesus was busy about His Fathers business, He *"Went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.
Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them."
(Matthew 4:23-24, NKJV)
!!!!! (3)                 How about the blind, lame, lepers, the deaf and poor?
*When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the One they are looking for, and *"Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." (Matthew 11:4-6, NKJV)
!!!!! (4)                 He not only left us His work and teaching but also His example:
*Peter said *"For to this you were called [suffering], because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;" (1 Peter 2:21-23, NKJV)
!!! 2.                  “He through the Holy Spirit…”  (v.2b).
!!!! a)                  Through the Holy Spirit (v.2b)
!!!!! (1)                 Jesus was empowered & anointed by God to do the miracles, wonders and signs.
Christ was totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit.
*Peter, in his sermon in chapter 2 said *"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—" (Acts 2:22, NKJV)
*The Scriptures declare *"how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed… for God was with Him."(Ac 10:38)
!!!!!! (a)                 If Christ was so dependent upon the Spirit of God, how much more are we!
How much more do we need to make ourselves available to Him!
*During his ministry, Paul said *"for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake."
(1 Thessalonians 1:5, NASB95)
*Jesus said *"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."
(Acts 1:8, NASB95)
 
!!! 3.                  “Had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen…”  (v.2c).
!!!! a)                  Gave commandments to His chosen servants (v.2c).
!!!!! (1)                 This verse is a reference to the 40 days in which the Lord appeared to the apostles after His resurrection and communicated His desires to them.
Four important things happened during this time: 
*#1- /He provided for His disciples an understanding of the Scriptures:/* (Luke 24:28-35, 24:44-45).
He gave them the ability to understand how the Psalms, the Prophets and the Writings (the entire Old Testament) related to His life, death, burial and resurrection.
*#2- /He proved to His disciples His divine Sonship:/* (Matt 28:16-17; Mk 16:14; Lk 24:36-43; Jn.20:19-29).
Some of the disciples doubted the reports they had heard of His resurrection, so He appeared to them to authenticate His Messiahship and the claims He made while He was alive.
*#3- /He prepared His disciples for Pentecost:/* (Lk.24:49,Acts 1:4).
He told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit had come upon them to empower them for their ministry.
*#4- /He proclaimed to His disciples His desire to reach all the nations with the gospel/* (Matt 28:19-20,Mk 16:15-16,Lk 24:46-49,Jn 20:19-23).
The Lord revealed to His disciples that the gospel was to start in Jerusalem and eventually spread out to every nation.
!! D.                Jesus’ death and resurrection (v.3a-b).
!!! 1.                  “To whom He also presented Himself alive */after His suffering/*…  “(v.3a).
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