By Pastor David Goode
The book of Acts is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke; it picks up where the Gospel of Luke leaves off.
Although Acts is the second book written by Luke, a Gentile physician and historian, it is full of "firsts." It contains the first sermon by a disciple and the first miracle performed by God through a disciple.
Within the pages of Acts, you will read of the first steps to organize the Christian movement and the birth of the church. Other firsts include the first orchestrated persecution of believers in Christ, the first Christian martyr, the first non-Jewish convert, and the first missionary trip.
As we venture behind the scenes of the true story of Acts, we take note that God, the writer, executive producer and director of this brilliant, breathtaking drama, selected Peter and Paul to play starring roles.
Paul, formerly known as Saul, a Jewish persecutor of Christians, had a personal encounter with Christ (Acts Chapter 9) and became the greatest evangelist of the New Testament.
The apostle Peter, leader of the 12 original disciples, preached the first sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Other key people include Stephen, Philip, Barnabas, and Cornelius.
Let's take a front row seat, settle back, and enjoy some of the captivating scenes from Acts.
As the curtain opens with scene one, Jesus appears to His disciples over a 40-day period after His resurrection. He wants them to know beyond a doubt that He has risen from the dead and lives forever more.
On one occasion, they share a meal and He gives them a command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised."
He is speaking of the gift of God's Holy Spirit. Next, He leads them across the valley from Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives and speaks to His disciples overlooking the beautiful city of Jerusalem.
He says, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses, in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Jesus says, "You will receive the power to tell everyone about Me," and with this, He rises into the sky and a cloud hides Him from their sight.
The Disciples stare at the sky in amazement, feeling abandoned. However, two angels dressed in white appear, stand beside them, and say, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven will come back in the same way you have seen Him go to heaven!"
The curtain closes briefly and opens with scene two, following the story line in beginning in Acts 2:1. On stage, we find 120 followers of Jesus in the "upper room."
Suddenly, so suddenly that everyone is startled, there comes a sound from heaven as a rushing, mighty wind that fills the entire house where they are sitting. Cloven (split) tongues of fire appear, separate, and come to rest on each one of the people's heads.
Let's pause the action on stage for a moment so I can explain something. Are you thinking, why tongues of fire? Tongues symbolize speech and communication. Fire symbolizes God's purifying presence burning away the undesirable elements of our lives and setting our hearts aflame to ignite others, to communicate the good news of the gospel of Christ. God sends His Holy Spirit to dwell inside of each believer, and the church is born.
Now, let's join the action again as the drama continues, beginning in Acts 2:4.
All 120 followers are filled with the Holy Spirit and begin to speak with other tongues (languages) as the Spirit (Holy Spirit) enables them. With our ears and eyes of imagination, we hear and see the followers of Christ, with tongues of fire resting on them, speak in other languages. This is a miraculous attention-grabber for the international crowd gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the harvest festival of Pentecost.
All of the nationalities represented recognize their own languages as the followers of Christ speak to them. The Bible says the visitors are bewildered and amazed and even accuse the followers of drinking too much wine.
Scene three begins in Acts 2:15. Peter raises his hands and shouts, with great passion, "These men are not drunk as you suppose, it is only nine in the morning. No, this is what was spoken of by the prophet Joel." In Joel 2:28a, the prophet says, "And afterward, I will pour out my spirit on all people."
As Peter preaches, the events of Christ's death and resurrection are still hot news, less than two months old. The empty tomb of Christ is available for inspection just a short distance away.
The Bible says in Acts 2:41, "Those who accepted the message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day."
God is still pouring out His spirit on born-again believers to empower them to share the good news of the Gospel of Christ. Receive Him today as Savior and Lord, and be filled with His Spirit, then share Him with others.
Pastor David Goode is the senior pastor at Heart of Worship Ministries, which meets on Sundays at 3 p.m. in the arts and crafts room at the Port St. Lucie Community Center, 2195 Airoso Blvd., across from City Hall. Column reviewed by Nance Cox.
For more information, or prayer, call (772) 408-8218 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org