SERIES: 44 Acts - 2017
SPEAKER: Skip Heitzig

After Jesus rose from the grave, He spent forty days with His disciples before ascending into heaven. During this time, He tasked them with spreading the gospel to the ends of the world. In this message, we learn about the very beginnings of the early church.


  1. Introduction
    1. The book of Acts is the sequel to the gospel of Luke (see vv. 1-2)
      1. Most of the Gospels close with the ascension of Jesus, leaving us wondering what's next
      2. Acts contains the origins of the early church and Christianity
      3. The gospel of Luke parallels Matthew and Mark
    2. Written by Luke to Theophilus (see Luke 1:1-4)
      1. Some people believe Luke was writing to all lovers of God, but others believe Theophilus was an actual person
      2. Theophilus may have been Luke's master
        1. 2,000 years ago, doctors were different than doctors today
          1. They were slaves
          2. They were owned by people
        2. Luke wrote in a classical Greek
          1. He was very smart
          2. He described things, especially about the healings of Jesus, that only a doctor would notice
    3. Theophilus came to know Jesus as his Savior, and he released Luke to become a friend and traveling companion with Paul (see Acts 16)
      1. In Acts 16, the vernacular changes from third person to first person (see v. 10)
        1. Some people believe the man in Paul's vision was Luke (see Acts 16:9)
        2. From this point on, Luke included himself in the writing
      2. Theophilus instructed Luke to write a full account of the history of the movement
      3. The Holy Spirit used Luke's writings to give an accurate account of the life of Jesus and the early church
  2. Acts 1:1-8
    1. The work of Christ was not over (see vv. 1-2)
      1. The book of Acts is a record of what Jesus continued and continues to do
      2. He sent the Holy Spirit as our Helper (see John 16:7)
      3. The title of the book is the Acts of the Apostles
        1. A better title would be the Acts of the Holy Spirit
        2. The unfinished work of Jesus continues through subsequent generations
    2. Jesus spent forty days between the time He rose from the dead and when He ascended into heaven teaching His disciples
      1. "Many infallible proofs" (v. 3)
        1. Things Jesus did and said during this time
        2. Witnessed by many people: objective
      2. Involve the senses
        1. Seeing, hearing, touching, and tasting
        2. Jesus appeared to people on multiple occasions
        3. He ate meals with them
        4. He spoke to them
        5. 1 John 1:1-2
    3. Jesus commanded them to wait for the Holy Spirit
      1. He gave them a mission to spread the gospel to all the world (see Mark 16:15)
      2. They were probably zealous to do so, but in their zeal, they could have been tempted to tackle this mission in their own strength
      3. Jesus wanted them to have the right equipment to do the job
    4. The disciples interrupted to ask Jesus if He was now going to set up His kingdom
      1. They were really good at interruptions
        1. Mount of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:3-6; Mark 9:4-8; Luke 9:32-35)
        2. When Jesus predicted His death, they were arguing about who would be the greatest (see Luke 22:24)
      2. In their minds, they expected the Messiah to establish His kingdom on earth (see Isaiah 35)
        1. There are Scriptures that talk about the coming of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the Messiah's earthly kingdom (see Ezekiel 35; Joel 2)
        2. Perhaps they were thinking of these Scriptures
      3. Jesus instructed them not to worry about the when but focus on what He wanted them to do
        1. It's good to be informed about what's next, but don't be so consumed with it that you miss the transformation of your own life
        2. Don't miss what God wants you to do right now (see Luke 19:13)
    5. Luke followed verse 8 as the outline for his book
      1. Chapters 1-7: the gospel witness to Jerusalem
      2. Chapters 8-9: the gospel witness to Judea and Samaria
      3. Chapters 10-28: the gospel witness to the ends of the earth, all the way to Rome, the heart of the world at that time
      4. The theme of the book of Acts: from Jerusalem to Rome
      5. God operates in ever-widening circles
    6. The book of Acts covers a thirty-year period
      1. AD 33-63
      2. The book records about thirty miracles
      3. So they saw about a miracle a year
  3. Acts 1:9-26
    1. Jesus Christ will return as He left
      1. Personally, visibly, wonderfully
      2. He will first come for His church in the clouds (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17)
      3. One day He will come all the way to the earth (see Revelation 19)
      4. Jesus will come back to the Mount of Olives (see Zechariah 14:4)
        1. He ascended from around the town of Bethany
        2. A Sabbath day's journey
          1. 2,000 cubits or less
          2. Two-thirds of a mile
          3. Tradition says the measurement was established because the farthest tent from the tabernacle in Old Testament times was 2,000 cubits away
    2. Peter had a leadership role in the early church
      1. He preached at Pentecost (see Acts 2)
      2. His role as a leader diminishes as we get further in the book of Acts
        1. He submitted to James
        2. James became the spokesman of the early church before Paul
        3. James was the brother of Jesus
    3. Those who continued with the apostles in prayer
      1. Mary, the mother of Jesus
        1. The last mention of her on the pages of Scripture
        2. The early church did not venerate her
        3. Jesus Himself did not venerate her (see Matthew 12:47-50; Mark 3:32-35; Luke 11:27-28)
      2. The Marys
        1. Mary Magdalene
        2. Mary, the wife of Clopas
        3. Another Mary, probably Martha's sister
      3. Salome
      4. Jesus' brothers
        1. James, Joses, Judas, and Simon are mentioned by name (see Mark 6:3)
        2. He also had sisters
        3. This negates the belief of the perpetual virginity of Mary
    4. Peter, a fisherman without a formal education, was able to quote Scripture and show how Jesus fulfilled it (see Psalm 69:25; 109:8)
      1. How was he able to do this?
        1. Jesus opened his understanding (see Luke 24:45)
        2. Jesus gave the disciples personal Bible studies for forty days after His resurrection
        3. The disciples had time to study the Scriptures themselves since Jesus ascended
      2. How Peter regarded the Scripture
        1. Scripture had to be fulfilled
        2. It had human authors
        3. It is inspired by the Holy Spirit
    5. The first meeting the disciples had to deal with after the ascension was the shocking report of Judas Iscariot
      1. Shocking because they were dealing with the suicide of an apostle
        1. A follower whom Jesus chose personally
        2. Son of perdition (see John 6:70; 17:12)
      2. They felt the need to replace him
        1. Jesus promised that those who followed Him would sit on twelve thrones in heaven (see Matthew 19:28)
        2. They did not know how that prophecy would be fulfilled without a replacement
      3. Was Matthias the right choice?
Cross references: Psalm 69:25; 109:8; Isaiah 35; Ezekiel 35; Joel 2; Zechariah 14:4; Matthew 12:47-50; 17:3-6; 19:28; Mark 3:32-35; 6:3; 9:4-8; 16:15; Luke 1:1-4; 9:32-35; 11:27-28; 19:13; 22:24; 24:45; John 6:70; 16:7; 17:12; Acts 2; 16; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 John 1:1-2; Revelation 19

Topic: Disciples

Keywords: Holy Spirit, Great Commission, Jesus' ascension, church

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