Monday, June 30, 2008

The Gospel of Acts

This morning, I started reading Acts 14, and verse 3 really caught my attention.

"Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands."

You'd think an English major would notice something like this... Who in this verse was testifying to the word of His grace? It doesn't say WERE, it says WAS. The one testifying to the word of His grace and granting signs and wonders is the Lord Jesus Himself!

My pastor made an argument in his introduction to the book of Acts that has been confirmed over and over, both in the Word preached and in my own reading. It especially is clear to me in this verse. He said that the best title for the book is not the Acts of the Holy Spirit nor even the Acts of the Apostles. The best title would be the Acts of Jesus through His Apostles! After all, Jesus did not tell His disciples "you will build My church" but "I will build My church."

Now, I am not endorsing the emerging church, but I have to admit that calling a church-planting organization "Acts 29" is thought-provoking. If we thought of ourselves as continuing in the same mission that Christ gave in Acts 1:8 ("you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth"), there would be a lot more focus on Christ, His death and resurrection, and His current reign at the Father's right hand. Who needs gimmicks and games and entertainment when we have the powerful Lord Christ, who is building His church?

I am reminded of a statement pastor David King gave at a conference I attended: "The greatest crime of the pulpit is to withhold Christ from sinners." So true...

There is a hymn that is from Red Mountain Music's Gadsby Hymnal project that is pertinent here:

Christ, or Else I Die
Words - William Hammond, 1719-1783

Gracious Lord, incline Thy ear; My requests vouchsafe to hear;
Hear my never-ceasing cry; Give me Christ, or else I die.

Wealth and honor I disdain; Earthly comforts, Lord, are vain;
These can never satisfy: Give me Christ, or else I die.

All unholy and unclean; I am nothing but sin;
On thy mercy I rely; Give me Christ, or else I die.

Thou dost freely save the lost; In Thy grace alone I trust.
With my earnest suit comply; Give me Christ, or else I die.

Thou dost promise to forgive all who in Thy Son believe;
Lord, I know Thou cannot lie; Give me Christ or else I die.

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