Lessons from the book of Acts for tough times
Fast-paced narrative. Dramatic twists. Supernatural power. Unlikely heroes. The book of Acts in the New Testament has all the hallmarks of a blockbuster film. Pastor Denis picks out some of the book’s enduring themes which are relevant in today’s turbulent times.
When I decided to do a series on the Book of Acts in 2019 my motivation was simple. I wanted people to see how the New Testament was established and how the Gospel came to our shores through the known world. And I wanted people to get a feel for time, places, locations destinations and people.
There are some great themes within the Book, including the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in chapter 2, which reminds us as followers of Christ that we also need power, and the source of that power is not the strength of our protest or words, but the Holy Spirit.
One overriding theme is that God is sovereign, despite the ups and downs of our lives; the fads and fashions and dictates of the world; what rulers and governments are doing. There were many rulers who stood against what the disciples were doing and still they were steadfast. Rulers come and go, governments come and go, fashions come and go, but God reigns throughout it all.
What really strikes me in comparing the time of Acts with today is that the world is in motion, and the business of the world continues. Until God decides to step in and put a halt on time, the world systems will continue to do what they do.
Against this backdrop is the Church, a living organism in the world and, in a way, an antidote to the world and its conditions. The Church is a refuge from and is counter-culture to the world (Acts 2:42-47).
And the Church continues. We, as Christians, must decide whether we’re in the world or we’re in the Church.
Coronavirus and the lockdown period have given me a real flavour of what life was like in that time. In my lifetime, I’ve never experienced being locked down, hemmed in, and having to adhere to state directives. The experience that we’ve had as churches, with online services and having to lean on each other more, I think, has brought us closer together. And it’s given us the chance to remember that we are called out to offer that antidote in Jesus.
It’s also a reminder that being in the Church doesn’t exempt us from experiencing the challenges that we now have because we’re in the world, but not of the world (John 17:14). The disciples had to make decisions about what they would stand up for, what they would believe in and what kind of lives they would live in the struggle against the adversities of their day. Likewise, we must make up our minds about what we do when faced with the challenges of this world, and choose to continue to live our lives for Jesus.
It’s encouraging to see how God aided people, but we have to acknowledge that the disciples went through great trials and difficulties. Paul, for example, had to go through many things – shipwrecked, betrayal, beatings to live the life and share the Gospel, and to see the Church grow and flourish (2 Corinthians 11:25). There’s a price to be paid, and just as they paid a price, we’re going to have to pay a price.
This is a difficult thing to hear, but we can find strength in the example of the apostles, who stood firm in the truth of Jesus’ resurrection and relied on the power of the Holy Spirit to give them boldness.
Photo credits: A.D. Kingdom and Empire, Roma Downey, Mark Burnett.
To listen to any of the sermons in our series on the book of Acts go to Micah’s Soundcloud account or watch our sermons on our YouTube channel, MicahChurchLondon.
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We recommend A.D. Kingdom and Empire