Archive for category Acts of the Apostles
What adjectives do many associate with the word ‘church’ or ‘faith’? Solemn, holy, boring, stained glass, choir, pew, robe, potluck, etc.
Reading (and trying to preach) through the Book of Acts paints a far more exciting scene. Just skimming through the first 4 chapters we read the following adjectives and phrases that paint anything but a boring picture:
- “a crowd came together in bewilderment” (2:6)
- “utterly amazed” (2:7)
- “amazed and perplexed” (2:12)
- “they were filled with wonder and amazement” (3:10)
- “people were astonished and came running to them” (3:11)
- “Why does this surprise you?” (3:12)
- Their opponents were “greatly disturbed” (4:2)
- “They saw the courage of Peter” (4:13)
- “They were astonished” (4:13)
- Their opponents couldn’t “stop this thing from spreading any further (4:17)
- “the place where they were meeting was shaken” (4:31)
How can our churches and ministries today recapture this excitement? What are we lacking? What has changed?
This is the most significant spiritual lesson I have learned in my entire life – perhaps. There is a world of difference (literally, a “narrative world” of difference) between (1) being a religious person who holds certain beliefs in their head, and (2) a person who has decided that the narrative world of the Bible is the real world, and is willing to live in light of that world’s definition of reality.
Many so-called Christians today see the world through modern, secular, post-Enlightenment lenses. This “narrative world” saturates the American Way, and was the reality from which our founding fathers started this nation. It’s not biblical. It’s a Deistic worldview where God is somewhere “up there”, quite removed and disinterested in our everyday affairs, who might once in a while intervene into our world but not often, and is mostly concerned with us living decent, moral lives. Oh, and he has a nice Heaven awaiting those who entertain the appropriate intellectual beliefs about Him, Jesus Christ, and salvation by faith in the Crucified Son. Most Christians today hold the “right beliefs” in their head about Jesus and salvation, but they still live their everyday lives in the “narrative world” of post-Enlightenment Deism. They hold some right beliefs, but are living in the wrong story.
I was 20 years old when I stumbled into a different Story. I was hit upside the head by the wild, Spirit-saturated, miraculous-laden “narrative world” of the New Testament. I had already seen how empty and unfulfilling the so-called American Dream was — another label for that popular “narrative world” most of my peers were preparing to live their lives within (and now are). I didn’t want to merely get a good job, build a nice house, buy some fun toys, raise a family with a picket fence, and give God a nice corner in my own self-constructed universe of security and self-interest.
At 20, I picked up my Bible and began reading the Book of Acts. I discovered a different world. I discovered a different God. I discovered a different purpose. I discovered a different church and form of Christianity. I tripped and fell into the story, and I decided from that day on I would let that story and “narrative world” define reality for me. What did this mean? Read the rest of this entry »
Take a survey sometime of Bible reading Christians and ask them if they’ve spent more time reading the Gospels or the Book of Acts. The answer is will always be the Gospels. And it’s not even a close contest. But why is this?
I think the answer is quite obviously because the Gospels introduce us to Jesus, the focal figure of our faith and the object of our devotion. The Old Testament Scriptures point forward to the coming of the Messiah, and the Gospels tell us of his glorious arrival. Thus, we should indeed spend the majority of our time studying the life, death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus.
But here’s the rub: Luke’s story of Jesus is a two-volume set. There’s a part one (The Gospel of Luke) that ends like a cliffhanger, and leaves the reader on the edge of their seat awaiting the sequel (The Acts of the Apostles).
Luke opens up his sequel saying that “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). In other words, the work Jesus began to do in Luke’s Gospel continues on in the Book of Acts. The teaching ministry he began in Luke is carried forward in Acts.
This raises the curious question: How is Jesus’ work and teaching continued in Acts when Jesus appears to leave the scene before the end of the first chapter? Let’s just say that you and I are part of the answer to that question; and a large reason I’m writing this memoir! Read the rest of this entry »