Today I began a review of a commentary on the book of Acts by Ray Stedman. Immediately, I am turned upside down. I love the way the study of the scriptures does that to you. The perspective of God is so upside down from the way we humans look at things, it is just always amazing.
Ray points out that the Acts of the Apostles really only tells, at best, about some of the work done by 2 apostles, clearly not a comprehensive review. But what it does discuss in detail is the Acts of the Holy Spirit in taking charge and working, through the Apostles and an ever more unlikely host of characters from a pharisee to an eunuch to people singing in jail and the jailers themselves, to form the church on Earth.
Matthew 28:19 tells us to go to all nations, baptizing. And, we, in our human arrogance, go – proclaiming, “OK, God, I’ve got it from here.” We pull out our clipboards and start planning. We hold meetings and fund raisers and set up all manner of organization and structure. We completely ignore the most important element of the great commission – I am with you always. Christ is not handing it over to us to figure out, He is simply giving a preview of the direction He is going to lead us in – but He is clearly still in the lead.
Stedman says it this way, “the record of the gospels is the story of only the beginning of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. When you come to the end of the gospels, you have come not to the end, nor even to the beginning of the end, but to the end of the beginning. In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit now begins to fulfill the designed program of God. He begins to carry on his work through the reincarnated body of Jesus Christ—the church—the body by which the Lord intends to reach out to the uttermost parts of the earth.”
As a history and inspiration, the study of the book of Acts would be enlightening, fulfilling and inspiring. It is always a gift to see the spirit in work. However, Stedman further pointed out the relevance of this book and why it is so critical to the church today. When the church of today struggles. When it loses its way or loses relevance. When it is attacked from all sides and doesn’t know what to do. When Christians themselves lose faith and confidence in the church, then the book of Acts is not only inspiring it is a detailed procedure manual on revival. When the church needs to return to its roots – Acts is the instruction manual. This is how Christ and the Spirit worked to form the church. We should read Acts not only for inspiration and enlightenment but for renewal.