Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons . Being an Acts 29 believer

. Being an Acts 29 believer



I have often made mention of the fact that Acts 29 is our chapter. Even though the apostolic era has closed, we continue. But we need to ask the reason why we are able to continue and what does it look like when we continue. If we had to watch a movie on your life, what does your Acts 29 look like? How God glorifying is it? Something interesting is that the very reason you do have an Acts 29 is because of Acts 1:1-3. We have a last chapter because we have a first chapter. Let’s read the section together and then I will explain.

Acts 1:1-3 (ESV)1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”

Luke wrote two books, and both of them he wrote to Theophilus. His first book we know as the gospel of Luke and the second one is the book of Acts. We read in Luke 1:3-4 (ESV) 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. So, Luke writes and orderly account to Theophilus and to us, that he may have certainty regarding the things we have been taught." Luke was obviously an eyewitness to the life of Christ as he says that he followed things closely.

Now we see in Acts chapter 1 that Luke makes reference to the Gospel of Luke. He says in verse 1: “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach….”

Theophilus is probably some kind of Roman official because of the title "most excellent" which Luke uses only for Roman officials like Felix (Acts 23:26) and Festus (Acts 26:25), the governors of Judea. Theophilus had some knowledge of Jesus and the church, but it was not clear and certain or complete. Luke's aim was to give him a faithful account of what Jesus did and said and then to give him an account of the progress of the church in the world.

Now in this sermon I want to pick up on a significant truth that we see in the text before us that has a major impact on us being Acts 29 people. Let me get to the logic of my argument. Look again at verse 1 and the first part of verse 2: 1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up,..”

Luke is clearly saying that the Gospel of Luke was all about what Jesus began to do and teach until His ascension.  The gospel of Luke ends with the ascension of Jesus in Luke 24:51–53).  The key word here in Acts 1 is “began” which simply means that the Gospel dealt with what Jesus began to do and began to say, which by implication means this is simply the beginning and not the end. This means that the deeds of Jesus and the Words of Jesus are continuing.

Now we all know that according to Hebrews 10:12 that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father; 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,” So there is the completed work of Jesus Christ, but what Luke is saying here is that what Jesus did on the earth in his compassionate, loving, healing deeds and what he said on the earth in his truthful, authoritative, convicting, comforting teaching was only the beginning of his doing and his teaching. This is absolutely crucial for understanding the purpose of the book of Acts and who we are as a church and what this age is all about as we write our chapter of Acts namely Acts 29.  Because the clear implication is that NOW—now that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father—he is NOT finished. He is not done with his work and with his teaching. He is not dead and he is not absent. He is alive and he is present. He is doing and he is teaching.

There are two levels where we see the on-going work of Christ.

1. Christ, in the lives of the apostles.

The first 28 chapters of Acts belong to the apostles. Many have said that the book of Acts is about the work of the apostles. That is why it is often titled in our Bibles: ‘the acts of the apostles.’ Others again say that Acts is about the acts of the Holy Spirit in the early church. Now while both are true, I believe it is more accurate to say that the book of Acts is about the on-going deeds and words of the risen, living, enthroned Christ, through the Spirit in the lives of the apostles and believers for all ages .

His deeds and His words are firstly seen in the lives of the apostles and the early church and 28 chapters of Acts are dedicated for this purpose. Remember what Christ said in Matthew 16:18 (ESV) 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus began His church which was built on the foundation of the apostles and Jesus would continue to build His church.

The incarnation of the Son of God into human flesh, the once-for-all sacrifice of himself for sin on the cross, the mighty resurrection and Ascension to the Father's right hand is just the BEGINNING of what Jesus came to do and to teach. That is the point of the book of Acts and that is why we exist as a church and that is what this age is all about. This is Luke's point. Jesus began his doing and teaching until he was taken up to heaven. Now He goes on completing his doing and teaching—He goes on building his church just like He said He would.

You see it in the life of Paul. Paul is one of the main human heroes of the book of Acts. Half the book could be called the Acts of Paul. But listen to what was really happening in the ministry of Paul: Romans 15:18-19 (ESV) 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ;”

Paul attributes both his words and deeds to Christ. He says that it is Christ who worked through him, or accomplished through him. So, whatever Paul accomplished for the kingdom, it was Jesus doing and teaching. Jesus is speaking and acting in chapter 1-28 of the book of Acts. He is alive, and he is building his church through Paul, and the same goes for Peter and the rest of the apostles. So as we observe the first 28 chapters of Acts, we see Jesus, we feel the presence of Jesus and we hear Jesus as we look and listen to His apostles.

Look with me at the last chapter of Acts. Acts 28:30-31 (ESV) 30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”

The book of Acts concludes rather abruptly. Paul is still under house arrest, nothing about his court date, or about those who visited him. No further details...if this was a movie or a novel, we would be disappointed, as we are left to guess what happened further. There are many thoughts and ideas about why this is, but if we believe, and I do, that the Scriptures are God-breathed, that men wrote as moved by the Holy Spirit, then the ending is as it should be, it had to end like this …but what happened next, is the question that many still ask.

Well, there is the second reality.

2. Christ, in the lives of believers for all ages.

So the apostles got 28 chapters, you and I have one, one very long one. Acts 29 is our chapter, it is about you and it is about me.

The apostolic period has ended, the apostles are no longer amongst us, so the rest of what Christ came to do, he does NOW in this age until the time appointed by the Father for the consummation of all things. And that is why it is so relevant for us today. Jesus is still alive. He will always be alive! He is still speaking and working. He is building his church, wherever people come under the authority of his name and receive his forgiveness for sins and trust his power. That is what we long to see happen more and more here in Polokwane and among all the unreached peoples of the world.

With Paul we must be able to say as we saw earlier: 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me — by word and deed,” With Paul and the rest of the apostles we can say that it is “Christ in us, the hope of glory”, we can also say that we are fellow workers with Christ. We can also say from Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Now, this begs a question. To be those that Christ is working in and through, to be those that Christ is speaking in and through, and to be those who set this world alight as the disciples did in the book of Acts, what do we need to be effective fellow workers of Jesus Christ? There are three truths that will allow us to understand our role and the basis of our effectiveness, which is based on three needs.

We need exactly what the apostles needed to fulfil their ministry and to set the world alight with the gospel and verse 2- 3 will tell us that we need.

2.1 A  command  through the Holy Spirit.

1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen"

Now this command that I want to talk about was already given to the apostles and to us before the ascension of Jesus. To be fellow workers of Christ the apostles needed a command from Christ through the Holy Spirit that would carry them through 28 chapters of Acts and that same command will carry us through Acts 29.

When Luke says that He gave them command through the Holy Spirit, it might mean simply that Jesus was prompted by the Holy Spirit to give the Great Commission to preach and make disciples in Matthew 28:19 (ESV) “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,….” But I think Luke means for this to have relevance for the way the apostles themselves received the command, not just the way Jesus thought of it.

We have an example of this In John 20:21–22 where there is one description of a commission that Jesus gave the apostles after his resurrection which could help us understand the command before the ascension. Notice the role of the Holy Spirit here: 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Doesn't that sound like a situation which Luke might describe as giving commandment through the Holy Spirit? In this text the Holy Spirit is not yet poured out. He is only poured out in Acts 2. So here I believe that what we see when Jesus says:  "Receive the Holy Spirit," there was a real ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the apostles for that moment and that situation and for the understanding and appropriation and processing of that commission? I believe Christ commanded them by His Spirit and it is the Holy Spirit that helped them even in those days before Pentecost to understand the command and to accept the command and to be glad with the command, and it is the Holy Spirit that empowered them throughout their 28 chapters of Acts. .

And so, for us to be a fellow worker of Jesus as He works and speaks in the world we need  a commission that came with the authentication of the Holy Spirit and to know that we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit since He was poured out at Pentecost.

2.2 Verification that Jesus is alive.

The second thing they needed from Jesus and we need from Jesus is verification that he is alive and triumphant over death. Acts 1:3 (ESV) He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days….”

I have done a whole sermon on this from 1 Corinthians 15 where we saw that if Christ is not risen, our faith is in vain, our preaching is in vain, we are false representatives of God, there is no hope for those who die and we are of all people the most to be pitied. You can't be an authentic instrument in the hands of a living Christ, if you do not believe He is alive. Until the apostles were profoundly persuaded that Jesus had broken the power of death and that He was alive with indestructible life, and therefore could never be defeated and that His cause was unstoppable—until then, the apostles were ready to go back to fishing for a living. But for 40 days Jesus appeared to them again and again.  He appeared to more than 500 people in the span of those 40 days.

So when 40 days of appearances and conversations and meals were past, the apostles were beyond doubt. They had many infallible proofs and at the level of persuasion they were ready for their ministry. But they needed something more.

2.3 Knowledge about the Kingdom of God

The last thing mentioned in verse 3 is that they needed instruction; it was not just any kind of instruction but instruction about the kingdom of God. You see this at the end of verse 3: Acts 1:3 (ESV) “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”

The apostles had been so slow of heart to understand and believe during the ministry of Jesus on the earth. Now that they saw the resurrected Christ, they needed a crash course in post-resurrection kingdom theology. What were the promises of the Old Testament really all about? In what sense had the kingdom really come in the ministry of Jesus? How would the kingdom show itself now in the life and ministry of the church? In time we will spend much time talking about the Kingdom of God, which by the way is the central theme of many of the parables.

So in closing:

I know that we are not directly standing in the place of the apostles. They were unique in the history of redemption. They had unique face-to-face contact with the living Christ. They had a unique inspiration and authority as the foundation of the church. But that doesn't mean we don't need much of what they had. We do—especially if we are going to be fellow workers and instruments in the hands of the living Jesus who today continues working and teaching to build his church.

We need a Spirit-authenticated commission on our lives from the living Christ. We need a deep mind-persuading, heart-gripping verification that Jesus is alive and triumphant over all his enemies, and that his cause is unstoppable. And we need to understand the kingdom of God and how it came, and how it is now coming, and how it will come.

So I challenge you today, to gauge everything you are and everything you want to be, in the context of a Kingdom mind, and let’s pray that our Acts 29 as individuals and as a congregation will be a glorious chapter, as we serve by and through the Holy Spirit, with a knowledge that He is risen, with a full understanding of the Kingdom.


Logos Community Church”- 18 November 2012