The book of Acts is well suited to be studied in a year of what we hope will be recovery like 2021. The affect of Acts is to bring about renewal and revival in the life of the believer. Luke, the author, makes it clear that he has done his research. He was to write two volumes for his patron Theophilus, that he might have certainty regarding the life, death, resurrection of Jesus and the early years of the Christian church.
In the gospel, Luke’s focus is on Jesus; the demoniac, Jairus and his daughter, the rich ruler and Zacchaeus, all come and go, but the director’s camera never leaves Jesus. The Lord Jesus is the focus of attention. In Acts, however, Jesus ascends to the Father in chapter 1, and we may well ask: ‘Where will the director’s interest now lie?’ The paralytic, the Ethiopian, Cornelius, Lydia, the Philippian jailer, all come and go, but the camera never follows them, even though we may have preferred to stay with them a while. The director’s camera is always on the Word, the Gospel of God as it makes unstoppable progress from Jerusalem to Samaria and finally to Rome (Acts 1:8).
The Gospel bearer faces threats, persecution, imprisonment, internal conflict, theological controversy, litigation, storms and shipwreck, but none of these impede the Gospel’s progress. The Gospel is the powerful instrument the Spirit uses to produce believers – in Jerusalem, Samaria, Cyprus, Lystra, Derbe and throughout Europe. In rural areas (Acts 14) and philosophical centres (Acts17), the Gospel is equally at home, boxing above its weight.
Luke gives us statistical summaries to show the growth of the church (2:41; 4:4) and comments throughout on the health of the Word. In Chapter 6, when dissension breaks out in the church, Luke tells us ‘the word of God continued to increase and spread’ (v.7). In Chapter 12 when Herod has James killed, the word’s health is contrasted with Herod’s wormy death (v.24). In Chapter 19 when people burnt their magic scrolls to ash, the Word, he says, ‘continued to increase and prevail mightily’ (v.20).
If the title of the book of Acts were to be changed, I would suggest a title which included ’the unstopability of God’s Gospel’. What a refreshing encouragement to read this Spirit-inspired book and be reminded that God’s purpose prevails. “The purpose of God is to glorify himself by saving a people of his own, through hearing and believing the Gospel of his Son, as it is carried to the world by his Spirit-empowered people”.
– David Cook.