What was new, helpful or interesting to you in the notes?
I was particularly struck by the comment in the notes that “the indwelling of the Holy Spirit enabled the apostles to perform acts that were previously impossible when Jesus was with them, but not in them.” We often think about how wonderful and inspiring it would have been to physically walk with Jesus and see His ministry delivered first hand. It is also tempting to attribute the faith that the apostles had to that gift. But, as the notes point out, that wasn’t the source of their strength and that wasn’t what strengthened their faith. As Luke will point out in the book of Acts, the apostle Paul came to know Christ after His ascension.
The notes continue with: “Your study of Acts will reveal that the key to living a powerful, fruitful Chrstian life is to be filled continuously with the Holy Spirit. This is both each christian’s overwhelming priviledge as well as Gods command to be filled continuously (Ephesians 5:18). This is the normal christian life; any other life is subnormal.”
That is such a bold and true statement. Nothing wishy-washy or part way. Christians are to be filled (all the way to “F” on on our fuel tank) with the Holy Spirit. So how do we top off the tank and fill our lives with the spirit? The notes discuss the prescription that Dr. Luke notes through the account of the Acts of the Apostles and how they did it. Prayer. Strength from other believers. Witnessing. Work. Persecution. Praise. Joy.
This last point, Joy, I think will come up over and over again in the study this year. We live in an area of great affluence, where few want for much of anything. But there is such a lack of joy in our communities and neighborhoods. As the notes say, “These early Christians lived in a state of exaltation and gladness in the midst of unheard-of difficulties. Luke emphasizes Pauls intense joy and devotion to the Lord in every page of Paul’s history in Acts.” This includes during times of being beaten, inprisoned, persecuted, chased out of town and even left for dead. Clearly that joy is not coming from outside influences. It is from the same gift of indwelling of the spirit that has been given to me and you.