“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,”
Without a doubt, the Book of the Acts of the Apostles (commonly referred to simply as Acts) is my favorite book in God’s sacred library. In this short devotional I can only give a few of my many reasons. First, there is tremendous apologetic value to this amazing book. From chapter 16 onward, its author claims to be an eyewitness to the events he describes. In other words, the bulk of the narrative is based, not on second or third-hand testimony, but the experiences of an active participant of the history he relates. The narrative takes us all over the Roman Empire and includes all sorts of local details that have since been corroborated by extrabiblical sources. By all counts, Luke appears to be an historian of the first rank; his account appears accurate and reliable. It is important to note that this careful researcher says nothing about quite a few historical events that would have been of tremendous interest to him. These include the deaths of Peter, Paul, and the Lord’s brother, James. He also fails to mention the great fire in Rome, the Jewish uprising, and the destruction of Jerusalem. His silence indicates that these events hadn’t happened by the time Acts was finished, most likely around AD 62. Since the Gospel of Luke was written before Acts, we can be certain that the earliest biographies of Jesus were written very early. The chance of them being filled with embellishments and falsehoods is therefore vanishingly small. Secondly, the Book of Acts is a mini Bible in itself. Even if we didn’t have the other 65 inspired books and letters, Acts informs us about the existence of God as the powerful and kind Creator and Sustainer of the world (Chapters 14 and 17). Acts recounts God’s dealings with Israel, His special covenant nation, and contrasts their rebellion and stubbornness with His love and faithfulness (Chapters 7 and 13). We learn that the coming of Christ and His redemptive work fulfilled numerous Old Testament prophecies and promises. Whereas the Law of Moses was unable to save us from God’s wrath against sin, the work of the promised Messiah can and does (13:38-39). We are told, in the clearest terms possible, what is required of us in order to avoid God’s judgment: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thought shalt be saved” (16:31). We are further warned that God is commanding all men everywhere to repent before our Lord comes to judge the world in righteousness (17:30-31). Lastly, the Book of Acts shows us that God is pleased to use normal people like us to do stupendously important things on the earth. We also notice that the book has no real ending. This open-endedness reminds us that the history of God’s work in and through His people continues to unfold. What amazing things remain for us to do? What will future chapters of this remarkable book say about us?
God bless you as you contemplate the limitless possibilities!