“The Apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared to join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought their sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.”
Luke outlines the message of the Book of Acts when in the first chapter he tells us that, “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach.” (Acts 1:1) The implication of this statement is that this second volume will be about the continuing work of the Lord Jesus Christ done by the Holy Spirit who is indwelling the Church. This book is a description of the greater works which the Lord Jesus Christ tells His disciples that they will do once He has departed (Jn. 14:12). It is also a call for us to set out in faith filled obedience to His calling to Spirit indwelled and empowered Christian living and service.
Additionally Luke quotes from the Lord Jesus Christ in defining the spread of their greater works Gospel proclamation. In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells His disciples that, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Now in the summary recorded in chapter 5:12-16 Luke shows us how in the routine life of the New Testament Church this plan is carried out. What we see here is a clear description of how our Sovereign God works out every circumstance according to the council of His own will. I can imagine that if I had been present hearing the commissioning which Jesus gives repeatedly at the end of each Gospel and at the beginning of the Book of Acts that I might begin to scheme and plan and worry about how this huge task was going to be accomplished by me. How often do we find ourselves feeling unsettled by the enormity of the task which is set for us? So often I find myself feeling frustrated by the interruptions which come my way each day. These things, I reason, are keeping me from fulfilling the calling which I have from the Lord.
What Luke tells us here is that it was in the routine daily life of the Church, its leaders, and people that the way was being charted for the fulfillment of all that God had set for them to do. The Apostles were powerfully bearing witness to the Gospel and the Lord was revealing His presence in signs and wonders which were signposts pointing to the Biblical Message that the Messiah had come. These Christians were seeing Christ at work daily in their midst. Prayer was being answered. People were coming to faith in Christ and they were daily being added to the fellowship of the Church. Christians were growing in their knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and were being disciple. In this chapter the Gospel ministry is still centred upon the Apostles. In chapters six through nine the focus will shift from the Apostles to Stephen then the scattered believers, then Philip, then Saul, with Barnabas, and finally to the Gentiles in chapter ten. What Luke is telling us is that this Gospel is not in any way dependent upon the Apostles or any other human being. It is not dependent upon us because it is in fact life abundant. Life that is genuine always finds a way to expand itself.
What you and I are called to do is to be believers in the Sovereign Lord. His grace is at work in us creating a prayerful obedience so that we will live our lives characterized by the abundance of the Spirit of God. There is nothing which can ever prevent the Gospel from accomplishing the purpose for which God has sent it out into our world. The question for you and I is this do we believe?