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Introduction to Acts (part 2)


Those who are fans of military movies know that most every depiction includes a briefing by a commanding officer prior to sending his troops into battle. That is the motif of the opening verses of the Book of Acts. With that being said, I believe it’s helpful to see these verses as more than an introduction. The first eleven verses of chapter one constitutes the briefing of Jesus to the disciples for the mission at hand.

The first aspect of any good briefing is to clearly state the objective. In this case, the objective was to implement the Kingdom of God. One might expect Jesus to speak of the formation of the church, but the more I study the Bible the less convinced I am that the end game of the mission is to be the institutional church. The church seems to be a part of a bigger movement, that is the encroachment of God’s righteous rule and reign on earth. It has been said that “the church doesn’t have a mission, the mission has a church.” I think that’s a significant truth to grasp, especially in this era in history as we witness the transition from attractional church models to more missional models.

In the next part of the briefing, the disciples are informed of the resources they have at their disposal for achieving the objective. There are two in the text: the risen Lord and the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. The passage tells us that for 40 days Jesus appeared to the disciples and gave them undeniable evidence of the resurrection. To summarize, the disciples who were gathered on Ascension Day were absolutely convinced that Jesus was alive. The resurrection was a conviction they shared that encouraged them to march forward, even when it was difficult to do so.

I have a friend who teaches American History. He’s a Civil War buff and is an avid reader of biographies on the life of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was a historical figure whose word and actions are inspirational today. But he’s dead. You can visit his tomb in Washington, D.C. Jesus was also a historical figure who lived in history. His words and deeds are unparalleled and exemplary. As 21st century Christians we get that. We study his life, observe his actions, and heed his words. But Jesus is not dead. He’s alive. Perhaps it’s time for Christians to experience a renewal of the conviction that Jesus is alive today.

The second resource the disciples had was the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told them that John had baptized with water, but they would soon be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Granted, a lot of ink has been spilled on the ramifications of this statement. Denominations and churches have emerged from emphasis on this statement. While the disciples may not have fully understood the implications, they certainly would have gathered that somehow they would be fully immersed in the Holy Spirit and this immersion would empower them to perform the mission at hand.

Tomorrow I’ll follow up with the personnel for the mission, the strategy for the mission, and the time frame to complete the mission.

Categories : Acts, Luke, Missional Church

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