Tuesday, December 27, 2022

A Matter of Life and Breath!

This morning was very special. I was able to do something I hadn't been able to do for a while. 

Whoever said patience is a virtue definitely knew what it was like to live with a running injury. I suspect my pace today was just above that of a snail, but still, it felt so good to get in 3 miles and to do it in reasonably warm weather for a change (40 degrees). All's right with the world again.

Earlier this morning I began a new Bible study leading into the new year. I've decided to read through the book of Acts all week. I've already seen something I'd never seen before. I know you all get what I mean. You read through a book of the Bible a million times and briefly take note of this or that, but at the same you barely notice a hundred other important details. The verse I'm referring to is Acts 10:42:

Here's what shocked me. This is the ONLY reference to the Great Commission in the entire book of Acts! That surprises me. Matthew's Gospel ends with Christ's command to his disciples to go and disciple all nations (Matt. 28:19). Likewise, Mark 16:15 (yes, this verse is original!) records Jesus' words telling us to go everywhere and tell everyone the Good News. But Acts? Never in the book of Acts do we find a direct reference to a command of Christ to preach the gospel except in the incidental reference in Peter's address to Cornelius in 10:42. Here Peter reports that Christ "commanded us to preach the gospel to the people." Otherwise, so far as I can tell Luke's emphasis in Acts is not on Christ's command but rather on his promise of the Spirit (1:4). All the efforts and labors of his disciples will be due to the influence of that Spirit. It is with this promise that Luke deals in Acts. His point is that what Jesus began in his flesh he now continues in his body (the church) through his Spirit. Just as Jesus was baptized with the Holy Spirit for his ministry, so his followers were to be baptized with the Holy Spirit for theirs. Acts is thus the record of the events that followed the gift of the Holy Spirit. So instead of the title "The Acts of the Apostles" (so the Greek), maybe we should think: "The Activities of the Spirit-Filled Followers of Jesus!" 

Here are some takeaways I jotted down in my spiritual journal:

  • The Holy Spirit is a missionary Spirit.
  • Except for Paul's speech to the Ephesian elders in Acts, the sermons in Acts are all missionary sermons.
  • It is the missionary Spirit of God in us who labors for the salvation of men everywhere.
  • The disciples in Acts were guided solely by their sense of the Holy Spirit. 
  • To be the church means: All Spirit-filled Christians are sent to our age to infect all of society with the liberating, saving, ministering power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, forming a witnessing team not only by what they say but by what they are.

This is God's basic missionary strategy for New Covenant churches. We, the chosen people of God, must implement it. It is literally a matter of life and breath (pneuma/Spirit)!