Term 3 – Week 1
Big Idea – Jesus ascended to heaven but promised the Holy Spirit and commanded his disciples to be worldwide witnesses
Know that Jesus lives in heaven and that Acts is the story of the witnesses spreading the news
- Belief – God is in control because Christ is ruling in heaven, and he spread the news through the witnesses
- Behaviour – be excited for this new series of Acts, seeing how God spreads the good news of Jesus!
In Acts 1:1 Luke describes his first book (Luke’s Gospel) as being about all that Jesus began to do and teach about himself and the Kingdom of God, before he was taken up to heaven. This is only the start of Jesus’ work, for now he acts through his Spirit-filled and empowered witnesses. Therefore, the book of Acts is not about the “Acts of the Apostles” but about what Jesus continues to do and teach by his Spirit through the apostles. Note in verse 2 that it was ‘through’ the Holy Spirit that Jesus himself spoke!
We must remember as we head into Acts that the apostles are eyewitnesses – they have seen all that we looked at in last term’s series in Luke – and they have seen the ‘many convincing proofs that he was alive.’ There could be no doubt for these disciples. In fact, many of them were so certain that they were prepared to die rather than deny that Jesus was alive.
Before Christ was exalted into heaven, he promised to send the Holy Spirit in his place (v4-5). The disciples, without the Holy Spirit yet and the clarity he gives, are confused about the goal of Jesus’ ministry – is the nation of Israel going to have its kingdom, its former glories, restored? Israel will one day have its glory in the new Kingdom of God… but for now Jesus simply gives them their purpose: to be the Spirit-empowered messengers of God’s plan for salvation and take the gospel of Jesus to the Jews and then to the nations (Acts 1:8). This begins with the promise of the Holy Spirit, who is sent from the Father to testify to the truth of Jesus, and to enable the apostles and subsequently all believers to share the gospel.
[Acts 1:8 also previews the plot for the rest of the book, as the Apostles are witnesses in Jerusalem (ch.2-7), Judea and Samaria (ch.8-9) and to the ends of the earth (ch.10+).] After this, Jesus ascended into heaven. This is an important ending to the life of Jesus on earth. He did not die and he remains in heaven to this day. The ascension confirms Jesus as both Lord and Messiah as he sits at the right hand of the Father ruling the world. These opening verses lay down the eschatological framework within which the Christian story is to unfold. The church lives in between the ascension and the second coming of Christ, and its life is determined by these boundary markers (v 9-11). He will return, but for now the job of the apostles has been clearly given – to be Jesus’ witnesses.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1v8
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