The Gospel Continued

Introduction to the Book of Acts
Christ's Work

In John 1:1, God says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

In verse 14, He says, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."

From eternity past, Christ's mission was to come to earth and offer Himself as a perfect sacrifice, to atone for the sins of His sheep. Right after this introduction, John tells us about the baptism of Jesus.

In verse 29, at the dawn of Jesus's ministry, John the Baptist announced, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

At the end of the Savior's earthly life, He declared, "It is finished" (John 19:30).

The debt of our sin was so great, there was nothing we could ever do to repay it. And yet, Jesus's sacrifice was sufficient.

The work of Christ on the cross is the foundation of all real peace and faith. It stands as an immovable rock against the storms of this world, shining the light of God's glory into the seemingly endless void of this dark, fallen world.

Christ's mission was to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), reconciling sinful man's relationship with the holy God. He accomplished this through His life and works as well as through the teaching of His Word.

But before He ascended into heaven, He gave orders to His disciples. He said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20).

Jesus sent His disciples on a worldwide mission, but He didn't send them alone. Right after Christ gave them this commandment, He said, "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:21).

He promised them His constant spiritual presence. His presence strengthened, guided, and protected them. It gave them peace in the midst of persecution. Without Jesus's help, there was no way they could accomplish their God-given mission.

No matter the hardship, no matter the trial, no matter the persecution … because of the solid foundation of Jesus Christ, the church will not fail. So, for the disciples to build the church, they had to build on a solid foundation.

A Solid Foundation

Acts 1:1-3 says, "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. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God."

If Jesus hadn't risen from the dead, our faith would be worthless. But He did! And He appeared to His followers—not once, but multiple times over 40 days.

And in Luke 24:45, we read, "He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures."

Because Christ rose from the dead, we can rest assured that all His teachings are true. Jesus was, and is, God. We can trust Him completely.

He didn't send His disciples into the world without a plan. He taught them about the kingdom of God and their role in it.

Acts 1:3 says, "He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God."

The word kingdom appears 40 times in the gospel of Luke and eight times in the book of Acts. The Old Testament scriptures speak of the Messiah and the coming kingdom.

And we read in Mark 1:15, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

The resurrection of Christ Jesus and the message about His kingdom are the foundation of our work for the Lord. When we proclaim the gospel to the lost, we preach repentance. We preach that Jesus died for their sins, was raised from the dead, ascended into glory, and is coming again to reign forever with His people.

If Jesus's disciples had tried to do the work in their own strength, they would never have succeeded. However, God Himself provided sufficient power.

Sufficient Power

Acts 1:4-5 says, "And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, 'You heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'"

Why would God not simply pour out His Holy Spirit right then and there? Why did His disciples have to wait in Jerusalem until Pentecost?

Hundreds of thousands of Jewish pilgrims were traveling to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Weeks. There would be thousands of people on hand to hear the gospel. Plus, this feast was the time Israel offered God the firstfruits of their harvest (Leviticus 23:15-21; Numbers 28:26-31; Deuteronomy 16:9-12).

According to 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, through His resurrection, Jesus became the firstfruit of those who've died. And according to James 1:18, when the Holy Spirit brings new life to His people, they become the firstfruits of His creation. So, there is great symbolism here as to why Jesus wanted His disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit to come.

Although the Holy Spirit came on individuals before this time, up until Pentecost, He did not indwell them permanently. But in John 14:17, Jesus said, "The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you."

When the Holy Spirit comes on a believer, they are drastically changed by God—for all eternity. The moment God turns a heart of stone into a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26), the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, takes up permanent residence within that person.

Even so, believers must be filled with the Spirit on an ongoing basis.

Ephesians 5:18 says, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit."

Because we are still affected by sin, ours and the sin of others, we must be continually filled with the Holy Spirit in order to display the fruit of the Spirit, effectively share the gospel, and flee temptation.

Jesus's disciples, then and now, must rest on the solid foundation and receive sufficient power. Plus, they must have a divine focus.

Divine Focus

Acts 1:6-8 reads like this: So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "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."

The disciples had begun to understand the Lord's plan more clearly. Still, they thought Jesus would remain with them and establish God's kingdom then and there.

Jesus redirected them when He said, "It is not for you to know times or seasons" (v. 7).

He was saying that not only should they not worry about how long it would be until the kingdom came. They were to focus on their responsibilities and leave the details in God's sovereign hands. It would have been too discouraging for them to realize that it would be over two millennia before many of God's promises would be fulfilled.

Even today, churches that are focused on sharing the gospel with their community and reaching out to do so around the globe, will be far less likely to become discouraged and fracture over that which doesn't truly matter.

We will run into opposition when we seek to share the gospel, but we, with Paul, must come to the place where we can say, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).

In order to further God's kingdom, we must stand on the solid foundation of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit. We must have a gospel-centered focus, and we must have divine hope.

Divine Hope

"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? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven'" (Acts 1:9-11).

The cloud that took Jesus out of sight was the Shekinah glory of God, the visible manifestation of God the Father on earth. His presence in the Old Testament is often referred to as a cloud.

Jesus being taken up into heaven portrays two things:

1. What the Father said about Christ was true. "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!" (Luke 9:35).

2. Two angels appeared before the disciples and told them two things: 1) Go and be obedient. Jesus gave you a command; so, go do it, and 2) don't worry about where Jesus went. He will come again.

And no matter what is going on in our life and in our world, we, too, have this hope. Jesus Christ will come again. We can confidently proclaim the forgiveness of sins in Jesus's name to the people of every nation, many of whom live right on our doorstep.

As believers, we've been given the greatest responsibility of all time. We are to continue the work of Christ, further His kingdom, and look to His return.