In a recent blog post, I wrote about the series of live classes I’ve started here in Austin on the book of Acts. That’s off to a good start; recently I’ve edited the audio recording of the first class and you can listen to the class here.
A few months ago I went through the books of Daniel and Revelation with the same group of friends. That series was so heart gripping as we were able to see again, not only all the fulfilled prophecies of the past, but the ones yet to be fulfilled. It seems to me at least that current events in our world today dovetail so clearly with the conditions described by the prophecies which are yet to be fulfilled in the lead up to the coming of God’s Kingdom on earth.
But it’s not good to get so caught up in Bible prophecy that we lose sight of our own call to Christian discipleship that’s at the heart of the New Testament. That’s why for me the book of Acts is perhaps the best book in the Bible (after the four Gospels of course) which can make plain what it should mean to be a Christian.
In opening this series, I wanted first to set the stage and the background for the beginning of Christianity after the resurrection of Jesus. So we started the class with Luke 24, the last chapter in the book of Luke. It’s clear from the first verses in Luke 1 and the first verses in Acts 1 that they’re written by the same man, “Luke the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). Luke 24 just tingles with the atmosphere of the time between the Lord’s crucifixion, His rising from the dead 3 days later, and His ascension 40 days after that.
I just wish some movie could or would really do justice to that time and how it became clear to the disciples that Jesus had actually risen from the dead. In our class on this chapter, we also covered how that Jesus made clear to them that He wasn’t a ghost when He appeared to them, saying “handle Me and see for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see Me have.” (Luke 24:39)
Then in the class we went on to the book of Acts, which sort of overlaps the last verses of Luke. And Bible prophecy even comes into the picture. The two angels who were with the disciples on the Mount of Olives as they saw Jesus ascend up into heaven told the disciples that “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven”. (Acts 1:11) This is what was said in the Book of Zachariah 500 years before, speaking about the Lord’s ultimate return to the earth, “His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with You.” (Zachariah 14:4 & 5)
But perhaps the biggest thing in Acts chapter 1 was the promise of the Holy Ghost which Jesus said the disciples would receive in a few days after He had ascended. Such a ringing verse, “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you. And you shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) The Holy Ghost was not to be given as some kind of virtual toy for Christians to be proud about. But it was to be given as a source of power to increase their effectiveness in their primary purpose and duty: to witness to others about the Lord.
The class has been edited down to just under an hour. Since it was a live class, it isn’t the same type as the videos on the book of Daniel have been. Those are all scripted beforehand while this one was just given as it came and so there are more “rabbit trails and ramblings” than are in the Daniel videos. But several people abroad have asked if these could be made into some kind of audio class so that they can have the opportunity to be in on the classes and the atmosphere of a live Bible study.
Here’s a link where the audio can be listened to. I hope this class and the ones to come will be a blessing to you. With love, Mark
PS In the last few days here we’ve had the funeral for my dad. There have been more relatives here than at any time since my parents 50th wedding anniversary in the late 90’s. It’s been a sad time but also a very nice time that so many have been together again. My four kids from Europe have been here and one of my grandsons.