Why Study Acts?

The picture above is the Cenacle, or “Upper Room,” and is the last standing portion of a Byzantine and Crusader Church (“Hagia Sion”) heir to the primitive Apostolic Church (Acts 2-15). The Last Supper (Lk 22:7-38), the gathering place for the 120 (Acts 1:13), and the and Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13).

This Sunday we begin our study of the Book of Acts. There is a study-guide available for download. The intro to Acts and three studies of the first two chapters can be found on our website – click here. We will be adding to the study-guide in coming days and weeks. With the study guide I’m hoping to get as many people as possible to follow along during the series – and to make it easier for small groups to follow – and to encourage potential small group facilitators to step-up and start a group.

So, this begs the question: Why study Acts? Here’s three quick reasons…

  • To take a fresh look at the establishment of God’s kingdom and spread of the early church. (In his book, The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church, Alan Hirsch calculates that the early church grew from 25,000 in 100AD to about 20,000,000 by 310AD!)
  • To examine the holy passions and their out-workings which marked that church
  • To consider how these might relate to our church situation today.
 John Piper (pastor, author, and theologian) sums up the purpose of Acts well – he says,

“More and more I believe that this book is in the NT to prevent the church from coasting to a standstill and entering a maintenance mode with all the inner wheels working but going nowhere, out-reaching into no new people groups or seeing no new ventures or no new exploits for the kingdom. The Book of Acts is a constant indictment of mere maintenance Christianity. It’s a constant goad and encouragement and stimulation to fan the flame of our part in God’s purpose – “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
This Sunday I’d like to engage in a bit of what I call “sanctified conjecture.” Are there clues to what went on during those 10 days the 120 disciples spent in the upper room?  I think there are. Additionally, there’s a phrase in Acts 1 (and used throughout the book) that has really lost its meaning in our English translation. These, and other thoughts, will have an impact on what Acts 2:1 actually means: “And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.”
Following are some themes that we will be paying attention to in the coming weeks:

  1. The work of the Holy Spirit  
  2. The missional witness of the church
  3. The expansion of the kingdom of God
  4. Spiritual Gifts 
  5. Spiritual Formation
  6. Church leadership 
  7. Church polity (or government) 
  8. The transition from a Jewish church to a Gentile church

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