From the Preacher’s Pen….
In just a few weeks we finish our journey through the books of the Bible. Hopefully during our study you’ve developed a few favorites, books that you want to go back and study again in even more depth as soon as possible.
I have to admit that I have a number of favorites, 66 of them in fact! As the Psalmist observes, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). So it’s really easy to want more of God’s word that we might better follow and serve Him!
One of those favorites will be our new Sunday morning study and it is one of the most important books of God’s word for Christians intent on obeying their Lord’s command to “go!” Of all the great lessons in the Bible, only one book is dedicated to how the Good News was taught and spread to all the world.
If you are already a child of God, the other 65 books are practical lessons about living as part of the family. Only in Acts do we see the focus on introducing people to the Good News and the things that they do to become a part of that great family.
Sadly, many people today try to read what is written to family members about their lives as a substitute for how to be born again into God’s family. There is a vital difference that we need to know and understand.
So think with me for a few moments about…
The Book of Acts
Often you hear the book referred to as “The Acts of the Apostles.” However, once you read it you quickly agree that a better description would be, “Some of the Acts of Some of the Apostles” since it does not pretend to cover every detail of every Apostle.
Luke, the author, begins by saying that it is the continuation of the story of Jesus. In those words are found the real purpose and theme of how Jesus is applied to our lives and how we keep the Great Commission alive.
Consider for a moment how many times someone comes on the scene in Acts and becomes a part of the story of sharing the Gospel. The Apostles teach the people of Jerusalem (chapters 2–7) and those Christians spread out teaching others (chapter 8 and following). New Christians like Stephen (chapters 6 & 7) and Philip (chapter 8) teach others.
Saul, soon to be know better as Paul, is introduced in chapter 9 and he will, like his good friend and companion Barnabas, continue to teach others and help them move on to becoming evangelists themselves. See for example: John Mark, Silas, Luke, Timothy, Aquila and Priscilla, Apollos, and the whole congregations they establish along the way like Ephesus with it’s “school” and outreach to countless other places (Acts 19:10).
It is with the book of Acts that we see the consistent picture of both what is taught about salvation and how people actually obeyed those things.
When people read something like Revelation 3:20 and presume that it is telling the lost how to become Christians (by opening the door of their heart to Jesus) they are going to completely miss God’s way of salvation!
Since all of the New Testament past the book of Acts is written to those who are already Christians, the instructions to family members of God are not going to be applicable to those trying to become family members!
Before we too quickly condemn others for missing God’s way to enter His family, we must also realize that we can be just as wrong for dismissing our Great Commission to share with others and teach them God’s will. It is just as wrong to teach that salvation comes from “inviting Jesus into your heart” as it is to teach that our fulfilment of “go and teach” is accomplished in letting someone else do the job!
Let me repeat that so we don’t miss God’s lesson here: Inviting Jesus into your heart is salvation just like inviting Him to go to your neighbors is evangelism. Neither one is what God demands of us!
We are NOT welcoming Jesus into our lives by doing our own thing to be saved. We MUST obey His word! Jesus is coming again to punish both those who “do not know God” as well as “those who do not obey the gospel” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).
As we read and study the book of Acts we must see both how the lost are saved and how the godly obey by going on to teach others! That is our job, that is our Great Commission from the Savior, Himself!
Plan now to be a part of the study of the book of Acts. And may we be courageous enough to say to our Lord, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
— Lester P. Bagley