Acts Chapter 1
(Read Acts 1:1-4)
The book of Acts is about Jesus continuing his work through the church. This book gives the account of the preaching ministry of the apostles. What Jesus Christ has begun they continued by the power of the Holy Spirit. The risen Christ personally prepared the apostles for His ministry. This book is addressed to Theophilus, which means “One dear to God”. He was known to Luke and to the church in general. There is no reason to suppose that he was not a real person. He may be a believer who was interested in Christ and his ministry. Before Christ ascended to heaven, He appeared at least 10 times to His followers to prove the reality that He is alive. The central theme of the apostolic preaching was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is mentioned about 22 times in the book of Acts. Jesus spoke to them about the kingdom of God. It is a reference to the Messianic Kingdom Jesus would establish one day (Daniel 7). Just prior to His ascension, Jesus commanded His apostles to wait for the promise of the Father in Jerusalem (Luke 24:49; Joel 2:28). Christ also promised about the coming of the Holy Spirit in His upper room discourse (John 15:26; Acts 2:16). The Holy Spirit is about to take His residence permanently in the believers and baptize them into the body of Christ which is the church (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; 12:13). This was also foretold by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11). The power of the Holy Spirit allowed the disciples to become Christ's witnesses. This is the primary task of the church. The Church is a vehicle for continuing His work today.
The Ascension of Jesus:
(Read Acts 1:6-7)
The disciples were commanded to bear witness to the risen Christ whom they had seen with their own eyes. God always wanted his people to become his witnesses (Isaiah 43:1, 10). Christians are saved to become Christ's witnesses. Before Pentecost disciples had an entirely different idea about them following Christ. They thought the Messiah would establish their promised kingdom and give them their independence and dignity. For 600 years they were hoping for that. The disciples were confused about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel and the true purpose of Christ’s first coming into the world. They asked Jesus “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" Jesus did not answer the question concerning the precise timing when God will restore the kingdom to Israel. God will fulfill His sovereign plan and purposes for Israel in His own appointed time. He promised them something far more important. He said that he was about to set up his spiritual kingdom on earth by the Holy Spirit indwelling the hearts of his people. "For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20-21). There are no boundaries to Christ's reign today. Jesus wanted the apostles to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "When the Holy Spirit will come upon them, they will be empowered to become His witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). The book of Acts demonstrates the importance of gospel proclamation in the world.
The promise of Power for Witnessing:
(Read Acts 1:8-11)
After Pentecost the disciples were completely changed men. On the night of Jesus' arrest, they were fearful men hiding behind locked doors. Now they boldly witness Christ turning Jerusalem upside down. They were empowered by the Holy Spirit as promised (Acts 1:8). Christ unfolded to them God's plan for worldwide evangelism. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit empowered them to proclaim the gospel. God has not given us a Spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). He gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish his purposes. When we wait on God in prayer, he gives added grace for witnesses that we have never experienced before. The witnessing begins in Jerusalem and then moves outward to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). God always wanted His redeemed people to become his witnesses (Isaiah 43:1). God says of Israel in Isaiah “You are my witnesses and my servants whom I have chosen” (Isaiah 43:10). God commands us to declare His glory among the nations (Psalms 96:3). He has called us out of the darkness into His marvelous light to proclaim His praise (1 Peter 2:9). If we do not witness Christ, how will people ever know of God’s love and grace? (Romans 1:14-15). Our witnessing by words and life should go together (Matthew 5:16). All believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit but only when we are filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit, we become effective witnesses of Christ (Romans 8:9). Christians should prayerfully seek God to empower them with his Spirit to become his witnesses. The book of Acts shows the centrality of Christ in the gospel proclamation. Having commissioned His disciples, a cloud took Jesus out of their sight. Throughout the scripture this cloud speaks of the visible presence of God (Exodus 13:21; Matthew 17:5; 24:30). Jesus was once again restored to the glory which He had with the Father before (John 17:4-5). He will return in glory for all to see on the Mount of Olives one day (Revelation 1:7: Philippians 3:21; Zechariah 14:4). The disciples were comforted by two angels by reassuring them of Christ's return in glory. The Church is Jesus' vehicle for continuing his work in the world today.
Mathias Chosen to Replace Judas:
The disciples returned to Jerusalem with great joy and waited there for the promise of the Holy Spirit. There was great unity among them, and their fellowship was centered in the risen Christ. They continued with one accord in prayer. Prayer always unites believers. There were women, men, and members of Christ’s family in that gathering of the disciples. It seems Christ’s brothers had become his disciples after His resurrection (John 7:5; Acts 1:14). The phrase “With one accord” is found many times in the book of Acts. Prayer was an integral part of the early church. In almost every chapter in the book of Acts we find a reference to prayer. Early Christians knew the scriptures and recognized that power comes from God alone. Prayer shows our dependence on God. Since the day of Pentecost, God is at work through his people. Peter has become the recognized leader among the apostles. He was enabled by the Holy Spirit to understand the defection of Judas Iscariot. The defection of Judas was foretold in the Old Testament (Psalms 41:9). Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are important because all scripture is given by the inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16). The twofold criteria for the replacement for Judas were, he must have been with the Lord from the baptism of Christ unto His ascension. And also, he must be a witness of Christ’s resurrection (Acts 1:21, 22). Seeking the will of God by casting lots was a normal Hebrew custom (Proverbs 16:33). The disciples believed in the divine providence of selecting the most qualified person to fill Judas’ vacancy. The lot fell on Matthias. Only 120 disciples were present in the upper room. They prayerfully waited for the Holy Spirit to empower them. Today God reveals his will to us through His written Word as we wait on him in prayer. Pray that you would have a deeper appreciation for prayer and God's Word. Christians should adopt the same attitude of dependence upon God to be used by him.