:::: MENU ::::

Posts Categorized / Acts: The Book of Mission

  • Apr 29 / 2018
  • Comments Off on The Holy Spirit came and filled the Church at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Holy Spirit came and filled the Church at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13)

Download Notes in a .MD file

The Holy Spirit Came and filled the Church at Pentecost

Acts 2:1-13 (Pastor Heo)

2:1 When the day of Pentecost came,they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs–we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine. “


The early church had no money, no beautiful building, political influence, educational degree, etc. The founding members of the early church (120 people) were a minority – maybe like you and me. But they were a huge multitude to Christ, and they saw a huge amount of churches established and Christians born again. What was their secret? A: The Power of the Holy Spirit.

The better we understand the power of the HS at Pentacost, the better. The more we will then be able to relate to him and understand him and believe. The power of the HS is still available today.

The main ministry of the HS is to glorify Jesus Christ. “The HS will bring glory to me.” John 15:26 “When the HS comes, he will testify about me.”

Another keyword: Holy Spirit

Keywords:

  1. Witness / testify
  2. One accord
  3. Prayer
  4. Holy Spirit

How many times does this appear in the NIV? 55 times (I counted yesterday).

The HS is the spirit of Christ, the spirit of God. He first came and spoke from human to human. This is very meaningful.

v. 1

“When the day of Pentecost came,they were all together in one place.”

Pentecost = 50 (Penta = 5) – this is the Feast of the First Fruits.

In Levitucus, Passover (Jesus’ crucifixion)is first, then the Feast of the First Fruits (Pentecost). Pentecost is 50 days after Passover – or 50 days after the crucifixion.

After Jesus was crucified, he was resurrected 3 days later. He stayed with them for 40 days. Then, 10 days later, the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.

  • 1 Cor 7:5 “Christ, our lamb of Passover has been sacrificed.”
  • 1 Cor 15 = Jesus’ resurrection = the First Fruit

Pentecost pictures the formation of the body of Christ – that is the church. In the OT, the Jews at Pentecost celebrated the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai. But these days, we Christians celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem.

At that time, there were 3 great feasts:

  1. Passover (Feast of the First Fruits)
  2. Pentecost
  3. Feast of Tabernacles
  • Passover = crucifixion including resurrection
  • Pentecost = coming of the HS as another Counselor
  • Tabernacles = Jesus’ Second Coming (heaven)

During these three greatest feasts, all Jews and others gathered in Jerusalem. This is the historical situation. (This is God’s plan and timing for world evangelism.)

v. 2-3

“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.”

“The Holy Spirit came down – to dwell in believers forever!”

The HS is one person of the Trinity God.

This means, we believe in ONE God in essence – with three persons:

  1. Father God
  2. Son (Jesus)
  3. Holy Spirit God (another Counselor)

The HS dwelling in us means that Jesus Christ still dwells in us through his Spirit.

  • Gen 1:1 “In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
  • Gen 1:2 “It was formless and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

The HS came down forever and ever – permanently. The HS could not have come sooner. Why not? It was essential that Jesus die and rise again from the dead – and go up to heaven – before the HS could be given.

John 7:37 “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Streams of living water will flow from within him. (Holy Spirit)” Up to that time, the HS could not have been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified (taken up to heaven).

John 16:7 “It is for your benefit that I am going to heaven. Unless I go, the HS will not come to you. If I go, I will send him to you.”

So, Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension is ESSENTIAL for the HS to come and dwell among us and in us. This is a basic Christian doctrine.

There were 2 startling signs that accompanied this:

  1. wind
  2. fire

Jesus says, “You should not be surprised at my saying ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound but cannot tell where it is coming nor going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Interesting vocab (Greek):

penuma / pnuma

Literal meaning = “breath” or “wind”

Like wind, the HS is invisible, but SO powerful, like a hurricane. The HS is a life-giving Spirit.

“Fire” pictures the powerful witness of the church to the world. All throughout the Bible, fire is a sign of God – from the burning bush with Moses to the consuming fire on the mountain.

The HS is so holy – he cannot be together with unholy, dirty things. So the “fire” burns away our uncleanliness, bitterness, etc, and “wind” brings to us the presence and sign of God.

After the fire burns away our uncleanliness, we are filled with the HS.

Eph “Do not get DRUNK on wine which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the HS.”

v. 4

“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

The filling of the HS has to do with power, witness, service, victorious Christian life. If we are really Christians, we no longer need to be baptized by the HS, but we need to be FILLED by the HS constantly – if we are to serve God effectively and truthfully.

“In a few days, you will receive the baptism of the HS.”

We must not be confused between the:

  1. Baptism of the HS
  2. The fullness of the HS
  • Baptism = the HS identifies us with the head of the church (Jesus) – this happens whenever a sinner trusts in Jesus Christ and is born again. “I belong to the body of Christ.”
  • Filling = “My body belongs to Jesus Christ.”

Once more:

  • Baptism: “I belong to Christ’s body.”
  • Fullness: “My body belongs to Christ.”
  1. Baptism = final, once and for all, one time event.
    1. Fullness = daily, repeated as we trust him in earnest prayer and earnest devotion – for more effective service
  2. Baptism: We are ONE in the baptism of the HS – we are the same. (Eph. 4 “One body, one Lord, one God, one baptism…”) – this unites us.
    1. Fullness: This is a personal experience. Yesterday’s filling with the HS does not guarantee today’s filling with the HS.

So, what happens when we are really filled with the HS?

Spiritual medical check-up

v. 5-13

“5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs–we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.””

What does this mean?

There were at least 15 geographical locations represented here. And surely the citizens of each heard Peter and the others declare the wonderful works of God in their own languages. Why did God do this? There are 2 lessons we can apply in our daily lives – because the HS power is still available.

#1 Reverse of God’s Judgment at Tower of Babel

Gen 11:1 “At that time, the whole world had 1 language.” (Many languages today is the fruit of human sin.) “Come let us build a tower that reaches to heaven to make a name for Man.” (So, God came and scattered them all over the whole world.)

  1. “Babel” = “confused”
  2. “Babylon” = “rebellion against God”
  • Babel: God’s judgment scattered the people
    • Pentecost: God’s blessing brought them together
  • Babel: unable to understand what was said
    • Pentecost: able to understand in the own language
  • Babel: scheme to make a name for man
    • Pentecost: make a name for God
  • Babel: rebellion against God
    • Pentecost: ministry of humble submission to God

What a contrast.

“The HS is the spirit of perfect communication.”

Yes, the basic tool for communication is language – but for perfect communication, we need more than language. If we are angry, look at cell phones while talking, etc, we have bad communication – even if we speak the same language.

But, if we have the HS, even if we don’t speak the same language, we can overcome the barrier of language and have communication.

  1. The HS is the spirit of perfect communication – between friends, coworkers, spouses, etc.

#2 Let the people know the gospel is for ALL people

The emphasis of this book is worldwide evangelization. (Acts 1:8)

HS is the Spirit of:

  1. evangelization
  2. world mission
  3. perfect communication

How far or near are you to Christ now? Remember, the nearer you come to Christ, the farther you will go OUT to reach the people.

Once more:

“The nearer you are to Christ,
The farther you will go out to reach the lost.”

What was the spirit of the people?

  1. Bewilderment
  2. Amazed
  3. Confused
  4. Perplexed
  5. Mocked / ridiculed (“They have had too much wine.”)

Actually, they were filled with the HS.

But those who didn’t understand thought they were filled with strong drink. Interesting?

Still today, if we are really filled with the HS, we can be misunderstood. If someone misunderstands you, please understand their misunderstanding.

Eph 5:18 “Do not get drunk on soju (wine) which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the HS.”

Why does the Word of God compare filling with the HS and filling with strong drink?

  • Drink: We lose control of ourselves and end up being ashamed.
    • HS: We have self-control and glorify God.
  • Drink: Can give a high spirit.
    • HS: Gives deep satisfaction and lasting joy.
  • Drink: Makes us brave, fearless to do something sinful.
    • HS: Makes us brave, fearless to do something holy.
  • Drink: Gives us degeneration.
    • HS: Gives us regeneration.
  • Drink: Practically, strong drink destroys families, homes, relationships.
    • HS: Builds up, edifies families, homes, relationships.
  • Drink: Makes self, family, home like hell on earth.
    • HS: Makes self, family, home like heaven on earth.

We can foretaste heaven on earth by being filled with the HS.

Let’s pray.

  • Apr 08 / 2018
  • Comments Off on You will be my Witness (Acts 1:4-11)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

You will be my Witness (Acts 1:4-11)

Download Notes in a .MD file

You Will be my Witness

Acts 1:4-11 (Pastor Heo)

1:4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”


  • In the 4 gospels, we see Jesus’ ministry, death, burial, and resurrection.
  • In Acts, we see Jesus’ ministry from heaven – through his church.

This book shows the spread of the church from predominantly Jewish to predominantly Gentile. It shows the spread of the gospel – beginning in Jerusalem and spreading throughout the Roman Empire.

Key verse: 1:8

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

  • Jerusalem = city evangelization
  • Judea and Samaria = home missions
  • The ends of the earth = world missions

Every Christian has 2 jobs:

  1. Ministry
  2. Mission
  • What is your ministry?
  • What is your mission?
  • What is “ministry”?
  • What is “mission”?

As a born again Christian, ask yourselves:

  • What is MY ministry? 사역
  • What is MY mission? 사명

Let’s make it clear what is ministry and what is mission. Let’s compare and contrast: what’s the same / what’s different?

  • Ministry: We can be different in ministry just as our body parts are all different and each part of the body has its own function.
  • Mission: ONE (Eph “There is one hope, one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one God – one MISSION”)

We can enjoy variety in our various ministries, but we must keep unity in our collective mission.

Not everyone is called to be a pastor, choir member, Sunday school teacher, etc.

  • Ministry = service for members INSIDE the church
  • Mission = service for the lost OUTSIDE the church so that they may come in to worship together and confess Jesus as Lord together.

1:8 – This is the final written statement of Christ before his ascension.

“You will be my witnesses.” – this is our mission.

Are you really Jesus’ witnesses in this world? This is our mission.

In this sentence, Jesus doesn’t say, “You will be evangelists, you will be gospel preachers.” Rather, to be a witness = evangelist + something more. This is gospel preaching + something more. This is more than just evangelizing, more than gospel preaching, more than soul winning. WHY?

What is “witnessing” like?

1:8 “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

5 Characteristics of Witnessing

#1 WHO can be a witness?

Only the one who personally saw, heard, or experienced. This is one who can say, “I KNOW this is true.” This is not one who says his own feelings or guessing or thinking. He doesn’t say, “maybe, probably, perhaps, hopefully”

No, he says, from his own personal experience, “This is true.”

A witness in court does not give a witness a carried word. The message of a witness is a marvel of simplicity. This is the key message of Christ in this world.

“Jesus is God come in the flesh. He died to pay for our sins. He was resurrected. He lives now in heaven. He calls us to call him Savior and Lord and so receive the forgiveness of sin.”

There is nothing to gain, no system to climb, just a person to accept to receive eternal life.

Do you have this message?

Yes, we witness through our mouths.

#2 Not only WORD, but also DEED

The witness of a witness’ life is irresistible. Our witness should be supported by our subjective testimony. But this witness should also be lived out in our lives: our characteristics, actions, deeds, interactions with others, etc.

Sometimes we can see “before / after” pictures in magazines. Do you have this?

Before Christ / After Christ?

Our testimony of our mouth must be characterized by our lives. It must be satisfied and edified by the Holy Spirit – not only through word but also our deeds. Even though this witness, message, is very simple, it requires a costly commitment from its carriers.

Yes, not only we must witness through our worth, but we must also attract a magnificent compliment. We must be praised by God AND men – in our character, especially as Christians.

#3 The tongue

Legal, court tongue.

Yes, witness = sharing the gospel of Christ – the communication of the gospel message to our neighbors and family members and co-workers. Yes, that is good – we should do it. But, remember, the key word of this book is “witness” – repeated in this book 29 times. The reference to “witness” and “witnessing” are almost ALL in a PUBLIC setting.

This shows a public display.

  • Stephen witnessed before the Sanhedrin.
  • Peter before the people in Jerusalem
  • Paul before the government officials and kings in court

Are you really ready to be a witness for Christ in an open and public place? Yes, they witnessed in a public square. Are you ready to witness in public to your co-workers? Even the President in the blue/white house?

The tongue – the word witness – is basically set in a PUBLIC setting (not private).

#4 Paradox of Shame and Honor

When you witness for Christ, do you feel shamed or honored? (It depends)

What we witness for Christ in this world is not a matter of material / earthly / worldly things. What we witness is a matter of heavenly / spiritual things. So, what we witness for Christ can be rejected, misunderstood, shamed, persecuted.

Yes, Christ willingly took the cross upon him. This was the symbol of the greatest shame. He took this dishonor to give us honor. He took shame and insults to give us grace. He took death to give us life.

So our witnessing can be a shame to us, but our receipt of shame may bring glory to God. Yes, in our own experience of witnessing to the lost of this world, we know it can be very shameful – but in heaven, this is very honorable. It can be stressful, but also exciting.

Witnessing for Christ is a great privilege but also a great responsibility.

The apostles, after witnessing before the Sanhedrin, left rejoicing. Why? Did they receive praise from men? No, they received shame from men for the glory of Christ.

Can you also receive shame in this world for the glory of Christ? If you are a true Christian, you can, but not of your power. You need the Holy Spirit.

#5 (Conclusion) Be ready to die

Witness (in English) = from Greek “martus

From this word, we also have the word “martyr” 순교자

In this sense, “witness” and “martyr” are the same in the root of the language.

Witnesses should be ready to DIE – to be killed for Christ. If we are not ready to be killed for Christ, then we are not witnesses.

In court, if I give a false witness, they may kill me (or jail). Even though I give a right witness in court, if they THINK it’s wrong, they still may kill me (or jail).

We know one day, we ALL must die. There is no exception.

“Once a man is destined to die, and after that to face the judgment.” (Bible)

We all must die one day. So, think of this matter wisely. _IF_ we are to die _once_ – is being a martyr a blessing or a curse? We will _all_ die one day.

  • Starting well is important.
  • Finishing well is _more_ important.
  1. Well-being is important.
  2. Well-dying is _more_ important.

What is a better way to die?

By a car accident, gun man, cancer, natural disaster, suicide, old age, or as a martyr?

Martyr (from the light of eternity) – finishing our lives as a martyr is the best blessing and privilege we can enjoy.

But don’t worry, if we cannot endure this, God does not allow us to become one. But if this will happen, God will provide a super power at that time to die as a martyr. (I also want at the age of 92 – because I need time to support my wife.)

God bless you. Witness is like that.

That’s why I said, “witness is more than evangelizing, more than gospel preaching, more than soul winning.” Because witnessing is like that, we need MORE than human power – the power of the Holy Spirit.

1:8 “You will receive *power* when the Holy Spirit comes on you…”

The key mission of the Holy Spirit:

  • Witnessing for Christ
  • Testifying about Christ

John 15:26 “When the Counselor comes, he will testify about me.”

1 Cor 12:3 “Nobody can confess ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.”

Yes, we need power of the Holy Spirit – this includes wisdom, courage, fearlessness, patience, kindness, miracles if need be. It means, we must pray.

“Praying and witnessing go together.”

v. 4 says “Do not leave Jerusalem. Wait for the gift my Father promised.”

  • Witness without prayer has no power.
  • Prayer without witness has no purpose.

Why did Jesus not say, “Leave immediately for the world mission movement”? Rather, he said, “Do not leave. Wait.” WHY?

If we look at this carefully, this is a very big challenge to them.

In v. 11, the angel called them “Men of Galilee” – this means they were not from Jerusalem – they were from Galilee. They were countrymen. But Jerusalem was the capital city for Jews. They were low-class, uneducated. But the most elite Jews lived in Jerusalem.

Humanly speaking, they were not comfortable in Jerusalem. It was the most dangerous place for them in the early church.

v. 8 “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, the ends of the earth” – this is NOT in order of events, but rather simultaneous movements.

Missionary movements should happen at the same time on earth, all over the earth.

One more thing we should make clear. Sometimes we thing: start at home (easy places) and going to far places (hard places) – no this is not true. Actually for them, Jerusalem (their own back yard) was the most dangerous and the most difficult place to evangelize for them.

  • Jerusalem: Jesus had been crucified in that city and buried. Most people would know this and that he’d been buried very recently. Also, Jerusalem was very strong in their own religion. They thought Christianity was the FIRST enemy against Judaism.
  • Samaria? It was soaked with half Judaism and half paganism.
  • The ends of the earth? They had no idea even where this was. They thought the earth was flat. They had never traveled anywhere even by car.

In their situation, EVERY place was very, very difficult. Also for us today, EVERY place is very, very difficult.

“The god of this age, Satan, has blinded the mind of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the glory of the gospel of Christ.”

Remember, even today, there is NO easy place to witness for Christ. But, WE CAN, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • There is nothing impossible with God.
  • Much is impossible with man, but nothing is impossible with God.

v. 9-11

“9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Yes, Christ will come soon – someday – to fulfill his full redemption and to remain in a personal bodily, tangible form in a specific place in this world, for all people to see. But what is to fill the gap before he comes? World-wide mission and evangelism of the church.

What is the “body of Christ”? It is multi-national, international community for witnessing for Christ.

Remember, this is the last sentence. This is a comfort, but also a challenge.

Individual Christians and local churches who are NOT committed to world evangelization, are CONTRARY to their identity and purpose as Christians – as witnesses of Christ.

“I’m a witness of Christ.”

“I’m a witness for Christ.”

“I’m a witness by Christ.”

Let’s pray.

  • Mar 25 / 2018
  • Comments Off on The Introduction of Acts (Luke 1:1-4, Acts 1:1-3)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

The Introduction of Acts (Luke 1:1-4, Acts 1:1-3)

Download Notes in a .MD file

The Introduction to Acts

Luke 1:1-4, Acts 1:1-3 (Pastor Heo)

Luke 1:1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Acts 1:1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.


Acts 1:8 = key verse

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

From today, we will study Acts.

Acts = actions = activity = mission.

God bless all of us to become “people of acts” / “people of action” more than before through the study of this book.

Who can say, “I’m too old to be more active…”

Nobody can say that.

God said to Abram (at age 99), “Be perfect before me.” This means = you must grow, learn, increase continually. There is MUCH room and space for you to grow.

I bless you in the name of Christ that we may become people of “acts” through the study of this book.

Introduction

Let me share 6 things.

  1. Intro, the background
  2. The human author (Luke)
  3. The receiver (Theophilus)
  4. The title
  5. The characteristics and importance
  6. The purpose of this book

In this book, two main characters are Peter (chp 1-12) and Paul (13-28).

Background

The reason we read the first part of Luke and Acts is to show that the two are written by the same person.

Acts is the 2nd volume of the gospel of Luke.

  • Luke 1:3 “..most excellent Theophilus..”
  • Acts 1:1 “In my former book, Theophilus…”

These are written in the same fashion, style, with the same language.

Yes, we know the gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus: his birth, life, miracles, teaching, death, resurrection, and ascension.

  • Luke: The story of Jesus’ ministry on earth in a physical body
  • Acts: The story of Jesus’ ministry from heaven

Acts begins where Luke leaves off. The two sometimes overlap.

  • Luke closes with the story of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.
    • Acts opens with the story of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.
  • Luke 24:48 ends with a Great Commission: “you are witnesses of these things.”
    • Acts begins with a Great Commission: “You will receive power…”
  • Luke 24:49 ends with the promise of the Holy Spirit. “…stay in the city until you receive power from on high…”
    • Acts begins with the promise and gift of the Holy Spirit.

This is the background of Acts.

The author (Luke)

His name, Luke, appears only 3 times in the New Testament (in the letters of Paul).

  1. Colossians
  2. Phileman 24
  3. 2 Timothy 4:11

He was mentioned by Paul 3 times – introduced as his dear friend, a doctor.

What we know about Luke clearly is that he was a medical doctor, one of Paul’s most valued helpers and most loyal friends. (He was the only person who was with Paul in his last prison – Paul said, “Only Luke is with me…”) He is also the ONLY Gentile author of the New Testament.

The recipient (Theophilus)

These two books were written to “Theophilus”. We don’t know who this is exactly – and his name ONLY appears here at the beginning of Luke and Acts. We only know much about him from church tradition / history.

There are 3 possibilities:

  1. Perhaps not a real name, just a nickname – it might have been very dangerous (persecution) to become a Christian at that time. Actually, this name comes from 2 Greek words:
    • “Theo” = “God”,
    • “Philus” = “Love”
    • So, perhaps Luke wrote to “Love of God” instead of a real name.
  2. Perhaps this IS actually a real name. If so, he may have been a HIGH government official. Luke writes, “most excellent Theophilus” – and this is only reserved for high officials (governors, kings, etc). Perhaps Luke is trying to show him “Christians are nice people, please do not persecute them.”
  3. Third, is more “romantic”. This is based on the fact that Luke is a medical doctor. Doctors once were “low class” in Korea, and also at that time, they were also considered slaves. So, Luke may have been a personal “slave” doctor to Theophilus.
    1. Story goes: Theophilus was very sick, but thanks to Luke’s dedication, he regained health. Theophilus set him free in thanks, and Luke wanted to give him the MOST precious gift he knew: Eternal life in Christ.

Title of the Book

  • “Acts”
  • “Acts of the Apostles”

But this book does not claim to give an exhaustive account of the Acts of the apostles. Only 4 apostles appear in here.

  1. John – but he doesn’t speak.
  2. James – in one sentence was killed by Herod.
  3. Peter – one of the main characters (chp 1-12)
  4. Paul – the other main character (chp 13-28)

This book ACTUALLY should be called:

“The Acts of the Spirit of Christ working in and through his witnesses”

Peter and Paul were not used because they were apostles, but because they were witnesses. God today is not using apostles, but using his witnesses. That’s why Jesus did not say, “You will be my apostles…” rather he said, “You will be my witnesses…”

The importance and characteristics

This book is so important.

As we know, the New Testament has 27 books.

  • There are 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.
  • And 1 historical book,
  • 21 epistles, and
  • 1 book of prophecy / revelation.

Jesus’ key concern in his ministry was:

To establish His church in this world.

Matt: “On this rock, I will build my church…” (the “rock” = the faith of his believers)

The church is called the “body of Christ.”

Acts is the ONLY book that gives us actual historical information about where and how the church began. If we did not have this book, we would not KNOW how the church began – we would only be able to guess through the reading of Paul’s letters. So, in a sense, this is the MOST IMPORTANT book in the New Testament.

There are two ways to write history:

  1. Day to day, week to week (journal)
  2. Giving glimpses into significant periods and events (this is the style of Acts)

This is the central book of transitions.

  • In history – from gospels to epistles.
  • From primarily Jews to predominantly Gentiles
  • From the program / kingdom of God to Church

So this book was written to show the development of the church – from primarily Jewish to predominantly Gentile membership.

The purpose

The key verse = Acts 1:8

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We may study this book EVERY week until we finish the study of this book. We will FOCUS on 1:8 until the conclusion.

At least, we can say 3 things about the purpose of this book:

  1. To commend Christianity to the Roman government at that time
  2. To show that Christianity is for ALL people of every country (not only for Jews – but also for Jews and Gentiles) –
    • At that time, Jews had their own belief that ONLY THEY were God’s chosen people and that God had no use for other nations – but this was a BIG misunderstanding.
      • In chp 7, Stephen made Christianity universal and was killed.
      • Chp 8, preached in Samaria,
      • Chp 10, Cornelius accepted into the church,
      • Chp 11, preached in Antioch,
      • Chp 15, the church made the great decision to receive Gentiles into the church on the same terms as the Jews, Finally, Paul went far and wide to win all kinds of people to Christ.
  3. Acts 1:8 “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Actually, with this ONE verse, there is MUCH to say. But this time, let me just say ONE point about this key verse.

This conjunction “and” is repeated 3x, and in Greek it means “kai.”

In Greek, this is not in order of procedure. It means: “happening at the same time” (concurrently, simultaneously). This does not mean “Jerusalem first, THEN Judea, THEN…” No, it means “ALL places at the same time.”

Imagine, if this were the last word of Christ on earth. If they had to try to go beyond Jerusalem AFTER they finished FULL evangelization, then they NEVER would have had an opportunity to leave Jerusalem even up to today.

You know in Korea, Western missionaries came over 100 years ago. Imagine, if they had tried to come to Korea AFTER they had finished the full evangelization of their own country, they never would have come.

You know, in Jerusalem today, there are a few Christians, but they still need missionaries to be sent – and we send some.

In Seoul, years ago, I saw a big banner in a church:

“Today Seoul, tomorrow Korea, the next day Asia, after that ALL the world!”

Sounds good? ONLY sounds good. Sounds ambitious, but in actuality, “today” will take forever. If they are faithful to this banner, they will never have an opportunity to go beyond Seoul.

Each day is ONLY today. We cannot meet tomorrow. We can only face today. The coming Monday is “tomorrow” but when we meet it, it becomes “today.”

Please remember, one day, our Lord Jesus will come again in his body to fulfill full redemption and salvation and reign over the world. Question: What will fill the gap between his ascension and second coming? Answer: The worldwide mission of the church. The evangelism activity of individual Christians.

Luke is the story of Jesus’ ministry on earth – the beginning.

3 Kinds of Immortality

  • There is the immortality of “fame” – Jesus has this. His name will never be forgotten.
  • Immortality of “influence” – Jesus (and some others) leave an effect on the world for a long time – Jesus’ influence can never die
  • Immortality of “presence and power” – Jesus left his fame and influence on this earth – but still he is alive and powerful and active on this earth.

Only Christ has immortality of “presence and power.” He is not the one who WAS once in the past. He is the one who IS always, all the time.

  • Therefore, in Matt he says, “And surely I am with you forever, to the very end of the age.”
  • Heb 10:13 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Are you a Christian? Just as this hand cannot be a real hand without being a part of this body, so a real Christian cannot be a real Christian without being a part of church – because “church” is the body of Christ.

Are you a member of the Church?

If you are a member of the body of Christ, then you are called “witnesses of Jesus Christ in this world.”

God bless you to become MORE active: people of “acts” through the study of Acts.

Let’s pray.

Pages:12345
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen