Thursday, January 3, 2013

Acts, a Book of Transition

The more I study the book of Acts, the more I realize that a person needs to understand the things in the book of Acts, particularly in order to understand anything in God’s word. 

The book of Acts is a bridge, a transition from that which had been foretold since the world began to that which had been kept secret--hid in God himself!   

Acts 3:21
Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

Romans 16:25
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

Ephesians 3:9
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

By the way, Acts is written to the Jewish people.   When you are reading Genesis through Acts, know that they are directed all to Israel—it is doctrine to them.  It is not until you come to Paul’s 13 books, Romans thru Philemon, that he is speaking to you and me today.  All the doctrine in the books of Hebrews thru Revelation is future to (and for) Israel after the 'church, the body of Christ' has been caught away, but you can gain some understanding and wisdom about how God is going to fulfill his program for the Kingdom for them and how it differs from what he is doing for us…but it helps us appreciate both programs.  

Acts serves a purpose in the Bible…like every book. 

Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4
It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

The purpose of the Acts of the Apostles (the actions and activities) is to show the fall of the nation of Israel—God’s people in time past, and yes, his people in the future, the ages to come.  (But now, his program with Israel is on hold for the time being.)  The book of Acts shows the fall of Israel in regard to the plan and purpose of God to give them an earthly kingdom at that moment.  It also shows over the course of 40 years (from ~30AD-70AD) that Israel’s religion was not able to flourish and the diminishing of the nation of Israel. 

Romans 11:12
Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

God didn’t just cast them away and then was done with them; he had a man named the apostle Paul who had a provoking ministry. 

Romans 11:11
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

Not only are we going to see that Paul had a new message (one of grace to all) for a new group of people (gentiles, apart from going through Israel to have access to God) for a new purpose (regain and reign in the heavenlies), but God through Paul had a provoking ministry because God’s heart for the Jewish people was such that although he wasn't offering the Kingdom anymore (temporarily), he still wished or the salvation of the Jewish people.  Paul in Romans 9, 10 and 11 says that his heart’s desire is for Israel that they might be saved.  Paul would say ‘I have a continual sorrow in my heart for the Jewish people, my kinsmen according to the flesh.   

Romans 9:1-3; 10:1
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,  That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.  For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

And, Paul himself was a Jewish man in the body of Christ.  Many Jews in the beginning as Paul went into those synagogues in the book of Acts trusted Christ’s work on the cross for their salvation (as opposed to Israel believing on his name as their Messiah).  They (the Jews that believed Paul’s message) obtained not the earthly kingdom, but the heavenly kingdom (as Paul calls it in 2 Timothy 4:18) as members of the body of Christ.  But, for the past nearly two thousand years, this gospel of grace, this ministry given to Paul, has been predominately a gentile ministry, “to the nations.”

Ephesians 3:2-4
If ye [gentiles] have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

Well, you won’t understand that if you don’t understand the book of Acts.   But, may I say to you, you won’t understand the book of Acts if you won’t listen to your apostle Paul. 

Romans 11:13
For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

So, the purpose of the book of Acts, the theme of it, is the actions and activities of the 12 apostles to Israel (the apostles Christ chose while here on earth during his earthly ministry); and then, of the one unique, distinct apostle Paul (the apostle referred to as a chosen vessel by the risen and ascended Christ from heaven’s glory) to us gentiles.   If you can understand this, you can start to understand your Bible.

So to understand all of God’s word, you need to understand what Paul says…

2 Timothy 2:7
Consider what I [Paul] say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

…and in order to understand what Paul says, you need to study Paul’s epistles rightly divided.

2 Timothy 2:15
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Excerpt transcribed from grace message given by Ron Knight (Paul’s Special Ministry).

Listing of a series of audio messages on the book of Acts.

Listing of video YouTube messages on the book of Acts.

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