Last October, we finished a long study of the book of Genesis. For the last five months or so, we’ve been doing some topical studies and shorter studies of the books of James and Colossians.
For the next two weeks, we’re going to study Luke 24 concerning the resurrection. We picked Luke for the study because beginning in May we are going to start a study of Acts. Each week, we will read and discussion one or two chapters of Acts (depending on the text, not necessarily the chapter divisions).
Believe it or not, even though we have had many discussions about the church as a community, we have never studied Acts together. This should be a very exciting time for us.
There are several topics that I’m looking forward to investigating: 1) The continuing work of Jesus through the Holy Spirit; 2) the service of several individuals and groups of believers; 3) the interactions between the churches in different areas; 4) the faith of those early Christians particularly in the area of proclaiming, going, sending, and serving; 5) the reactions of nonbelievers to the message of the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit through his children.
Of course, as we study together, I also expect to find even more interesting topics and themes in this book.
However, I’m not only interested in studying Acts from a historical perspective. Yes, Acts is descriptive, but I do not believe that Luke wrote Acts only so that we have a good description of the 30 or so years following Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. In the same way, I don’t think Luke (or Matthew, or Mark, or John) wrote their Gospels as narrative just so we we would have an historical account of Jesus’ life.
No, instead, I believe that while these books are descriptive, they are also intended to be normative. Luke wants us to know how those early Christians lived, evangelized, shared, served, suffered, went, discipled, gathered, sent, and died so that we could learn from their examples.
What are we going to learn? What will we do based on what we learn? Well, if I knew that, then there would be no reason to study the book of Acts.
I think that we will find some examples in Acts that we are following faithfully. I expect that we will find other examples in the narratives of Acts where we fall short.
The question we will be forced to answer is this: Will we continue in our customs and traditions, or will we be willing to change our way of living in order to follow the examples that Luke provides?
What about you? Have you ever studied the book of Acts? Have you ever studied it in community with other believers? Were surprised at anything you discovered? Did the study cause you to change any aspects of the way you were living?