Following ‘Acts’ into all the world

Following ‘Acts’ into all the world

Open up the Bible to Acts, and it does not take long for us to read something vital to our understanding of what is to come, and it is this:

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after He had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen.

Jesus was not even close to being done yet! The mission was just getting started.

And as we embark on our series through Acts, our mission as members of God’s Church continues as well. What lays ahead in the pages of Scriptures helps carve out and define the way forward. It shows God’s people in action, and how these people who are part of The Way, as they were described at this point in history, take what they received from Jesus, and spread it to the world. Something we at Harvest Christian Church are called to continue right here in our own backyard.

But not all is at it seems. For while it is important to remember that much of what we read in Acts is indeed prescriptive, there are significantly larger portions that remain descriptive. But what exactly is the difference? The answer to that question is rather simple. When a passage is descriptive, that means it is simply describing what is happening, or happened, at the time and place of the events. But when it is prescriptive, that means it is teaching us, or prescribing, what we are to do with what we are reading. Each of these elements exist in Acts, and both serve a very important purpose for us as followers of Jesus Christ exploring the second half of Luke’s Gospel (as Luke-Acts was originally one work with two volumes). For when we mix these types of passages up or confuse how to read and apply them to our lives, error can run rampant.

Let us briefly look a little closer at how we can tell if a passage is either descriptive or prescriptive.

One of the easiest ways to figure out a descriptive passage is to look and decide if what is being written is simply explaining the Acts narrative of the first church, and framing the situation in a way that is neither positive nor negative—but just is. In these cases, it is important to remember that, often, this means there is no command we are to put into action. But when it is obviously instructing us to do something specific, like in many of the New Testament letters, it should be viewed as a command for us to follow and obey. Much of Acts falls into the descriptive category, but we have a great tool in Paul’s letters. Something that is written as descriptive in Acts may be clarified and prescribed in the letters Paul wrote to the churches he visited on his missionary journeys, so we are able to see things from a more complete perspective there.

As we venture through Acts between now and the end of summer, keep in mind: This is where THE STORY continues. And it is God’s Word that bears out the mission ahead—either descriptively about the first Church, or prescriptively for you and me. In either case, may we heed Jesus’ instructions when He gave this response to His disciples’ after they asked Him, “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6)?” And He answered with this in Acts 1:7-8:

It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority. 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.

“And when He had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?’” (Acts 1:9-10a)

Let us now follow suit and get to work.

MESSAGES

Introduction / “Now what?” (April 7, 2024)

Acts 1 / “A Foundation to Build On” (April 14, 2024)

Acts 2 / “All Things in Common” (April 21, 2024)

Acts 3-4:31 / “An Ordinary Boldness” (April 28, 2024)

Acts 4:32-5 / “A Healthy Fear” (May 5, 2024)

Acts 6-8:3 / “Always Be Prepared” (May 12, 2024)

Acts 8:4-40 / “Stephen’s Public Death (and its Immediate Impact)” (May 19, 2024)

Acts 9 / “Transformed Life” (May 26, 2024)

Acts 10-11 / “An Uncommon Obedience” (June 2, 2024)

Acts 12 / “The Great Escape” (June 9, 2024)

Acts 13-14 (June 16, 2024)

Acts 15 (June 23, 2024)

Acts 16 (June 30, 2024)

Acts 17-18:17 (July 7, 2024)

Acts 18:18-19 (July 14, 2024)

Acts 20-21:16 (July 21, 2024)

Acts 21:17-22:29 (July 28, 2024)

Acts 22:30-24 (August 4, 2024)

Acts 25-26 (August 11, 2024)

Acts 27-28:16 (August 18, 2024)

Acts 28:17-31 (August 25, 2024)