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Book Overview: Acts

If you were to sit down and read the book of Acts how long would it take: 2.5 hours. Who Wrote most of the Bible? New Testament? Moses: 125,139 words Ezra: 43,618 words Paul 32,408 words Luke: 37,932 words Author: Dr. Luke Luke wrote both the book of Luke and the book of Acts. Luke is not only a historian but a compiling eyewitness. Luke talks about himself being part of the second missionary journey in Troas and Macedonia (Acts 16:10-17). “After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:10). Luke was also present on the trip back from Macedonia to Jerusalem (Acts 20:5-21:18). “These men went on ahead and waited for us at Troas. But we sailed from Philippi after the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days” (Acts 20:5). He even shows up on the journey to Rome from Caesarea (Acts 27:1-28:16). “When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us” (Acts 27:1-2). Recipients: Theophilus both books are addressed to Theophilus, perhaps Luke’s wealthy Greek patron. THEOPHILUS—”lover of God”, probably a Roman. Nothing beyond this is known of him. From the fact that Luke applies to him the title “most excellent”, the same title Paul uses in addressing Felix (Acts 23:26; 24:3) and Festus (Acts 26:25), it has been concluded that Theophilus was a person of rank, wealth or perhaps a Roman officer. — M. G. Easton, Illustrated Bible Dictionary and Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine, and Literature (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893), 664. The book of Luke starts saying... “it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:3–4). The book of Acts continues: “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven” (Acts 1:1–2). Purpose: Discipleship, Completes the Gospels, Explains the Epistles Themes of Acts: Sovereignty and Salvation: Acts shows that God's kingdom will grow and advance despite opposition, as the triune God draws people to himself through the preaching of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit. Fulfillment of Scripture: Acts continues God's plan of redemption, as promised in the Old Testament and through the life and works of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures attest to God's divine purpose and the fulfillment of his saving purposes through the spread of the gospel to the nations. The Word and Preaching: The church in Acts boldly preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ, emphasizing the need for repentance and faith. They proclaim the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, rather than relying on persuasive words or signs and wonders evangelism. The Spirit in the Church's Mission: The Holy Spirit enables the fellowship of the church and peace with God, while also guaranteeing the success of the church's mission to spread the gospel to all nations. The Spirit being poured out on both Jew and Gentile signals that all people are part of the restored Israel and can come to faith in Jesus Christ. Outline of Acts Acts 1-2 The Coming of the Holy Spirit to Gods people Acts 1:8aBut you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you...” Acts 3-28 The Work of the Holy Spirit through God’s people "...and you shall be my witnesses..." (Acts 1:8b RSV) The witness of the Holy Spirit breaks down according to geographic expansion. It begins in Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish nation, and it ends in Rome, the center of the Gentile world. "...in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8c RSV) Upon further breakdown, Acts would fall into a geographic expansion described in Acts 1:8c : Chapters 1 and 2 the coming of the Holy Spirit — The power of our testimony. Chapter 3-7witnessing in Jerusalem, beginning with the story of Peter's addresses there -- preaching for the first time--the gospel of the risen Christ in the very city in which he was crucified. Chapter 8, we have the witness spreading into "all Judea and Samaria" -- just as the Lord had said. Chapter 13-28 opens with the first sending out of Paul, beginning a process which carries right through to the end of ch 28. It ends very abruptly. The last two verses say that Paul has reached Rome: Acts 28:30-31 “He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” Discipleship Value: The Holy Spirit is continuing the Work through YOU in the church! 1. The Empowering of Witnesses: The Holy Spirit changes ordinary people into Empowered Witnesses There are ten sermons: Peter preaches five sermons, Paul preaches four, and Stephen preaches one). There are thirty preaching summaries Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”” “I remember one who spoke on the missionary question one day saying, "The great question is not, 'Will not the heathen be saved if we do not send them the gospel?' but 'Are we saved ourselves if we do not send them the gospel?” — Charles Spurgeon 2. The Effectiveness of Witnessing: Perfect preaching of the Gospel does not guarantee positive reception. There were positive responses. The crowd on the day of Pentecost: Acts 2:37-41. When Peter preached to the crowd gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, many were convicted by his words and asked what they should do. Peter told them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, and about three thousand people were added to the church that day. And other crowds... The Ethiopian eunuch: Acts 8:26-39. Philip, one of the early Christians, was directed by the Holy Spirit to go to a desert road where he encountered an Ethiopian eunuch who was reading from the book of Isaiah. Philip explained to him that the prophecy referred to Jesus, and the eunuch asked to be baptized. Philip baptized him and then disappeared, and the eunuch went on his way rejoicing. Cornelius and his household: Acts 10:1-48. Cornelius was a Roman centurion who was a devout God-fearer. One day, he had a vision in which an angel instructed him to send for Peter. At the same time, Peter also had a vision in which God told him not to call anything impure that God had made clean. When Peter arrived at Cornelius' house and began to preach to him and his household, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they began to speak in tongues. Peter then baptized them. Lydia: Acts 16:11-15. Paul and Silas traveled to Philippi and met a group of women who had gathered by a river to pray. One of these women was Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She listened to Paul's message and was baptized, along with her household. She then invited Paul and Silas to stay in her home. The Philippian jailer: Acts 16:25-34. After being arrested and beaten, Paul and Silas were thrown into jail in Philippi. During the night, there was an earthquake that shook the prison doors open, and the jailer, fearing that the prisoners had escaped, was about to kill himself when Paul stopped him. The jailer asked what he needed to do to be saved, and Paul and Silas told him to believe in Jesus Christ. The jailer and his household were then baptized. There were wrong interpretations of the message: The Jews believed the Christians were preaching against the temple, the law, their customs, and circumcision. The Greek philosophers suggested that the Christian message concerned foreign gods (17:18). And the Greek silversmiths and idol manufacturers saw in Christianity the “danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited” (19:27). There were Negative Responses to the Gospel Arrested. Peter’s sermon at the temple ended when the temple guards seized and imprisoned him (4:3). Legal Action. Peter’s sermon before the Sanhedrin ended when the Sanhedrin ordered him to withdraw (4:15). Furious. Peter’s next sermon before the Sanhedrin ended when the Sanhedrin erupted in fury and Gamaliel gave an order for Peter to be taken outside for a time (5:33–34). Violence. Stephen’s sermon ended when the crowd became so furious that they covered their ears, yelled at the top of their voices, dragged him out of the city, and stoned him to death (7:54, 57–58, 60). Insults. Paul’s sermon in the Areopagus ended with the sneering of philosophers after Paul mentioned the resurrection of the dead (17:31–32). Threats. Paul’s testimonial to the Jerusalem crowd ended when the crowd raised their voices and shouted for Paul’s death (22:22). Accusations of Insanity.And Paul’s testimonial to King Agrippa and Governor Festus ended when Festus interrupted Paul, shouting, “You are out of your mind, Paul!” when Paul proclaimed that Jesus had risen from the dead (26:23–24). 3. The Expression of the Witnesses: The Gospel message has not changed! “All around us we see Christians and churches relaxing their grasp on the gospel, fumbling it, and in danger of letting it drop from their hands altogether.” — John Stott “Finally we know that after his death his followers experienced what they described as the ‘resurrection’: the appearance of a living but transformed person who had actually died. They believed this, they lived it, and they died for it.” – E.P Sanders It is a message intended to be proclaimed. The Gk. word kerygma (noun) is usually translated ‘proclamation’, ‘preaching’ or ‘announcement’ and, outside of the NT, it was used generally of a public notice proclaimed by a herald whereby that which was announced became effective by the act of announcing it. Its verb form is kerusso (verb) meaning to proclaim or to announce and has, by far, the more common use. So the reference to the kerygma is a reference to content of the message that we proclaim, and the proclaiming of that message. It is not the same as the didache (lit. the teaching--reference to the content of or the extended content of what was taught, i.e. the commandments of Christ, and the explanation of it from the Apostles in the rest of the New Testament). Notice in Acts 28:31 “preaching … teaching” The early church after the apostles made a distinction between these two ways of presenting truth. The body of sermons recorded in Acts (Peter, Stephen, Paul) is called the Kerygma (proclamation, cf. 20:25; 28:31; Rom. 10:8; Gal. 2:2; 1 Cor. 9:27; 2 Tim. 4:2), while the teaching of Jesus interpreted in the Epistles is called the Didache (teaching, cf. 2:42; 5:28; 13:12; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 14:20). Kerygma: Basic evangelistic message proclaimed by the earliest Christians. More fully, it is the proclamation of the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus that leads to an evaluation of his person as both Lord and Christ, confronts one with the necessity of repentance, and promises the forgiveness of sins.” — Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Kerygma,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1261. “my speech and my message (kerygma) were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” 1 Cor 2:4 In Gospels: Luke 24:44–47 ESV Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything 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 said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. In Acts: 2:14-36, 3:11-26, 4:1-4, 4:5-22, 5:29-32, 8:4-25, 10:34-43, 13:13-41, 14:8-20, 15:6-21, 17:1-4, 17:22-31, 20:18-35, 26:1-23. we must distinguish between two types of preaching. The first has been called kerygma; the second, didache. This distinction refers to the difference between proclamation (kerygma) and teaching or instruction (didache). It seems that the strategy of the apostolic church was to win converts by means of the proclamation of the gospel. Once people responded to that gospel, they were baptized and received into the visible church. They then underwent a regular, systematic exposure to the teaching of the apostles, through regular preaching and... instruction.”— R.C.SPROUL, (https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/preaching-christ/) The book of Acts shows the Apostles and other Christians engaging in a two-step process. Generally, they preached the gospel message with a simple outline focused on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (see Acts 17:1–3, for example). This core gospel message did not contain everything Jesus taught His disciples--only the basics of salvation. After people believed the Kerygma, the Apostles would stay for some time and teach them God’s Word more fully (didachē) to establish them and strengthen them in the faith. In Acts 19:1–10, Paul spent two years in Ephesus instructing people in “the Word of the Lord.” In other words, evangelism first then discipleship. This is no doubt the fulfillment of Jesus command to make disciples, and the Dideche would certainly be the teaching of the commands of Christ. Matt 28:19-20 2. It was proclaimed The 7 Key Sermons in Acts: Acts 2:14-41 Peter proclaiming Gospel Sermon in Jerusalem on Pentecost. Acts 3:11-26 Peter proclaiming Gospel to the crowd gathered at the healing of the lame, beggar. Acts 7:1-53 Steven proclaiming Gospel Sermon to the Sanhedrin (*Cut short) Acts 10:34-43 Peter proclaiming Gospel to Cornelius, and co. Acts 13:16-42 Paul proclaiming Gospel in Antioch of Pisidia. Acts 17 Paul proclaiming Gospel to the Athenians at Mars Hill Acts 26 Paul proclaiming the Gospel to King Agrippa. Following the pattern of Luke 24, Each Sermon in Acts will contain 5 fundamental elements of Gospel proclamation: 1. Foundational Witness of the Scriptures 2. Affirmation of the person of Christ by teaching, miracles, and good deeds 3. Clarity of the Work of Christ: Suffering and Death 4. Necessity of the Resurrection The book of acts thoroughly destroys any notion that the early church did not believe the miracles or preached a weaker, more pragmatic gospel. To believe the resurrection, is the point of the scriptures. If the resurrection is not true, and they believed a lie, then the scriptures are untrue. “All that historical criticism can establish is that the first disciples came to believe the resurrection.” – Rudolph Bultmann .5Conclusive call to repentance 3. As a believer, you are to proclaim that message. “It is the whole business of the whole church to preach the whole gospel to the whole world.” One of the Joys of eating something so good is for someone to share the experience… you are looking at the expression on their face... “I will not believe that you have tasted of the honey of the gospel if you can eat it all to yourself.”— Charles H. Spurgeon “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” - Issac Watts When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood. See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown? Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all. Acts is telling us the gospel is a clear message, a message that is intended to be preached, and one that you must preach.



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