This is the first of a series of posts on the book of Acts. The Apostles’ Creed has that wonderful change of tenses when it goes from things past to things present. Jesus “…rose from the dead, ascended in heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence he will come to judge the living and the dead.” Acts picks up occurs in this present time, the same time we inhabit, when Jesus is sitting, that is, reigning at the right hand of the Father. Therefore if anyone wants to know, as I do, how the church ought to shape it’s worship, practice, mission and community, this is your book. Of course Acts (and therefore the church) is informed by the gospels (and particularly Luke since they are really two parts of the same book), the entire New Testament, as well as the Old Testament to which it constantly refers, but Acts remains a central example of the New Testament mission. It is a long and unified work that gives us the foundation of the church, “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20), upon which we are supposed to add. These posts will be selective and by no means comprehensive, consisting mainly of the things I find particularly pertinent to the church today. I hope to move at a clip and dive down into a few particulars.
The first words of Acts recall the first words of the Luke’s Gospel, linking the two. Luke writes “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach”, implying that in this second book he deals with the rest. He continues “until the day when he as taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen” (vv1-2).What Jesus accomplished up to his ascension he will continue through his church. Luke’s two books nicely portray what Augustine called totus Christus, all of Christ, the head (Jesus) and his body (the church). Jesus premiers in the Luke’s Gospel, the church in Acts. So Acts is not the lame sequel to the stunning life of Jesus. It’s the continuation of Jesus’ ministry. (more…)