Duck or Rabbit? Depends on how you look at it, right?
The book of Acts is a little bit like that.
The full title given to the book of Acts is “The Acts of the Apostles.” And that title (though not inspired) is accurate enough. The book of Acts most certainly follows the acts and teaching of the apostles (mainly Peter and Paul) after the resurrection and ascension of Christ.
But in the very first verse of the book of Acts, Luke (the writer) would have us understand that there is much more going on in the book of Acts than what meets the eye.
In Acts 1:1 he writes,
“In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach . . . .”
The “first book” that he refers to here is the Gospel According to Luke. So, in a sense, think of Acts as the companion volume to Luke. In other words, think of them as a set of sorts. But more than that, Luke wants us to see that his Gospel was the account of what Jesus began to do and teach.
So the book of Acts is really about what Jesus continued to do and teach after His resurrection and ascension.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes,
“ . . .Jesus Christ is still active. It is what He does that matters, not what we do; and the message of the Christian church is not only one of what He has done, but what He is doing. He is going on. He is still working. And the book of Acts tells us about the further acts of Jesus. Some people say it ought to be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit. That is quite wrong. It is Jesus who dominates” (Authentic Christianity: Studies in the Book of Acts, Vol. 1, p.16.).
Dennis Johnson writes,
“Luke’s story, from beginning to end, is the story of the acts and teachings of Jesus. This is the first thing Luke wants us to know about the church: Jesus is still at work, here and now” (The Message of Acts in the History of Redemption, p.18).
So that should transform our view of what happens in the book of Acts. But not only that – it should transform how we look at the church today. And it should transform how we look at the ministry of the gospel today as well.
Jesus is still at work in the church. He is still making disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:18-20) through His Word and through His church. He is the one with all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), and He has promised to be with us always in our task of making disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19-20).
In other words, disciples will be made. And, ultimately, He is the One making the disciples through His Word and His church.