By Joseph Ametepe
The Book of Acts is a historical record of the early church. It covers about 32 years of the life of the early church, from the ascension of Jesus Christ (about A.D. 30) to Paul's first Roman imprisonment (about A.D. 62). The name, "the Acts of the Apostle," does not truly represent the content of the book. Because of the title of the Book, oftentimes when we approach it to study it, we think of missions strategies, principles for successful church leadership lessons about life in the Spirit, or performing miracles and speaking in tongues. But as important as these are, they are not the main thrust of the Book of Acts. Rather, what Acts focuses on in its message to us is the supremacy of the Person of the Risen Lord. He, the One who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, is seen building and leading His Church. He was the supreme love of the believers we meet in Acts. And He must be the supreme love of believers today.
The Person of the Holy Spirit, is also given a prominent place in the Book of God. He is mentioned nearly 60 times in Acts. Just before the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, He reminded His disciples of the "promise of the Father" (Acts 1:4-8). The disciples were to wait in Jerusalem to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Ten days after His ascension, the Holy Spirit came in power, empowering them to proclaim the good news, to perform miracles, to persevere in persecution. A once faltering and fearful Peter would be empowered to preach the gospel before multitudes and make a calm and confident defense before the very religious leaders who had rejected the Lord Jesus and instigated the crowds to ask for His crucifixion.
The Book Acts points our attention to the Person of Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, as the Head and Builder of the Church. It directs our eyes to the Person of the Holy Spirit, the power of the Church. It also reveals to us the proclamation of the Church, the practices of the Church, the progress of the Church, the purification of the Church, the persecution of the Church. It is one of my favorite books of the Bible. God led me to study and pray and fast through the Book of Acts while He was training me at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, in Portland, Oregon, USA. The Spirit is still bringing me new insights from my studies in Acts.
Perhaps one the greatest statements ever made about the witness of the early disciples by the opponents of the gospel was at Thessalonica. Jealous unbelieving Jews and wicked men from Thessalonica opposed Paul and his fellow-workers, Silas and Timothy. They expressed their opposition to the missionaries by saying of them: "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also" (Acts 17:6). What a statement! Actually, these hostile opponents of the Gospel spoke better than they knew. Why? The spread of the good news throughout the Roman Empire (see map below) was the beginning of a movement of God that would change the course of history forever. I believe the time has come for such a statement to be made again about the witness of the Church.
God gave me the privilege of teaching through the whole book of Acts. Below are the messages we recorded during a three-year period of serving and shepherding a church plant in Colorado. May the Holy Spirit use these messages to challenge and change you more into the blessed and beautiful image of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.