“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.” (Acts 1:8-9)
We spent our Sunday mornings in 2012 discovering who Jesus is through the inspired words of Mark’s gospel. Jesus words and actions themselves proved that He is the King of Kings and the Son of God. His perfect life, death on the cross for our sins and resurrection form the basis of the Gospel, the good news that God has provided a way to redeem those who place their faith in what Jesus did. He is the One who will redeem not only us, but the whole creation from its current state of falleness.
But what happened to the disciples when Jesus ascended into heaven? The Apostles, and Jesus’ other disciples, had a hard enough time following Him when He was right there in front of them. Now that He has gone, how can they possibly carry on His ministry, if that is even what they should be doing? As hard as it may be to believe, something positive began to happen to the disciples after Jesus left. It seems, they were not left alone after all. The Holy Spirit came to work through them and used them to witness to Jesus. They faced many challenges but every challenge was met with an offsetting measure of God’s grace. This little movement soon extended through much of the known world. All of this was an outworking of the Gospel. The book of Acts records their journey for us, that same church today, to see. We’ll be looking in on that journey, as we begin 2013, through a Sunday morning sermon series and also through the Tuesday night men’s fellowship.
New Testament scholar, Bishop Tom Wright says, “The book of Acts is full of the energy and excitement of the early Christians as they found God doing new things all over the place and learned to take the good news of Jesus around the world. It’s also full of the puzzles and problems that churches faced then and face today—crises over leadership, money, ethnic divisions, theology and ethics, not to mention serious clashes with political and religious authorities. It’s comforting to know that ‘normal church life’, even in the time of the first apostles, was neither trouble-free nor plain sailing. There isn’t a dull page in Acts.”
It is my hope and prayer, as we begin 2013, that God will use this book of Acts to transform our hearts and minds, causing us to put our individual and collective faith into action in such a way as to be amazed at what the Holy Spirit has accomplished among us by this time next year. I pray that we will see the outworking of the Gospel in our individual lives and the lives of our church, in the manner seen in the first century church, complete with revival and awakening. I ask you each to regularly set aside time to join me in praying for this kind of spiritual progress in our midst for 2013. Soli Deo gloria!