Based on a True Story: Act Five (Acts 1:1-11)
Big Idea: What is our place in the drama? To live as the people of God through the power of the Spirit for the good of the world.
Purpose: To realize our part in the drama.
Something has happened in the past few decades of church life.
It began with the best of intentions: we began to come to church expecting that church would help us improve our lives:
- to help us become better parents
- to”hold up in a fold up world"
- to be relevant to our lives and interesting
The result is that we have come to the point where we expect the drama of Scripture to be relevant to our lives, and we reject the parts that don’t meet our needs.
The alternative: To believe that we are part of a drama that is much bigger than our own, and to believe that we have crucial parts to play in this ongoing action.
- Part One – Creation (good)
- Part Two – Fall (mess)
- Part Three – God cleans up the mess by calling a people
- Part Four: When God’s plan to restore a messed-up world seemed to fail, he sent His own Son.
Today: Part Five
"In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven." (Acts 1:1-2)
He is still active in restoring a messed up world. He is still acting and teaching.
How can this happen?
- We receive the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5) – Pentecost
- We live in between Act Four and Act Six (Acts 1:6-7)
- Meanwhile, we act as his witnesses throughout all the world (Acts 1:8-9)
The exalted Christ is at work in the church and the world.
- Israel’s mission to be light to nations: Failure!
- Jesus fulfills Israel’s mission
- Jesus gathers new Israel to continue mission to nations
- Church continues Israel’s, Jesus’ mission
The Story of Acts
- Witness in Jerusalem 3:1-6:7
- Witness in Samaria and Judea 6:8-12:24
- Witness to Ends of Earth 12:25-end
Our Part in the Act
For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ – with all boldness and without hindrance! (Acts 28:30-31)
Why so abrupt? Loose ends? The Story of Acts has not ended. It continues today until Christ returns.
"…the ending of Acts is truly an opening to the continuing life of the messianic people, as it continues to preach the kingdom and teach the things concerning Jesus both boldly and without hindrance." (Luke Johnson)
N.T. Wright’s suggestion: that a”lost" Shakespeare play has been found. The play originally had six acts, but only a little more than five have been found – the first four acts, the first scene of act five, and the final act of the play.
The play is given to a set of actors who are to work out the rest of act 5 for themselves. They are to immerse themselves in the culture and language, and let the trajectory of the rest of the story help them improvise the rest of act 5.
The church is like a theatre company.
- Playing our part faithfully is more important than our lives -“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace." (Acts 20:24)
- The main purpose of reading the Bible is to get to know our parts so we can play our role faithfully.
- We continue God’s work of restoring the world by living faithfully wherever we are.”Whatever happens, as citizens of heaven live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27)