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Acts

The author of the book is undisputed:  it is Luke, the physician, who wrote the Gospel which also bears his name.  He is a historian, but one who acknowledges the power of the Holy Spirit in his writing.  In this there is wisdom, for Luke clearly is not an eyewitness of the Resurrection.  We know little enough about him, but it is most likely that he is a convert to Christianity taught by Paul.  His method in both books is plain:  he is a researcher.  He gathers the words and evidence of others to produce his book.

In one sense this is a terrible blow to the fundamentalist school of "automatic writing."  This school holds that all the books of the Bible were written by the Holy Spirit  - the nominal authors just held the pen while the Spirit moved their hands.  If so, why the careful research?  But in another sense Acts can be called the "history of the Holy Spirit."  For as the Gospels were the biography of Christ, in a sense, Acts records what the Spirit did through the church.  No book of the Bible expounds more clearly the work of the Holy Spirit.

The study seems, perhaps, overly long to some.  The world is accustomed to thirteen weeks in the quarterly, and no topic takes more.  A pity, that.  Here is a study much longer - and yet it barely touches upon the most fundamental of things.  The wells of God are deep indeed.

 

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Acts 1:1-7 Waiting -  Waiting upon the Lord, as instructed, before Pentecost.
Acts 1:9-11 Ascension - The ascension of Christ - and the implications thereof.
Acts 1:15-26 Betrayal - An examination of Judas Iscariot.
Acts 2:1-13 Pentecost - Pentecost and the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:14-41 First Sermon -  Peter's first sermon, at the start of the church.
Acts 2:42-47 Early Church - The character of the early church.
Acts 3 In The Name - Peter heals a beggar in Jesus' name - and winds up defending himself for it.
Acts 4:1-31 Opposition - The apostles encounter opposition from the authorities; the relationship of church and state.
Acts 4:32 - 5:16 Ananias -  How could the loving God treat a couple of liars like that?
Acts 5:17-42 Providence - God's providence for God's purposes.
Acts 6:1-10 Growing Strong -  Growing strong through dispute.
Acts 6:8 - 7:60 Martyrdom -  The martyrdom of Stephen - the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.
Acts 8:1-25 Sorcerer -  The story of Simon the Sorcerer, trying to buy the ability to give the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:26-40 Ethiopian Eunuch -  Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.
Acts 9:1-31 Road to Damascus - The conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus.
Acts 9:32 - 10:23 God's Timing -  The story of the centurion, Cornelius, and how Peter was sent to him.
Acts 10:24-48 God Opens Doors - The working of the Holy Spirit in opening up the church to the non-Jewish world.
Acts 11:1-18 On Dispute -  Peter defends his contact with the Gentiles before the church; the Gospel begins its march to the world.
Acts 11:19:30 Encouragement - We meet Barnabas, the "son of encouragement," and see his effect on Paul.
Acts 12:1-19 Get Out Of Jail Free - Peter is jailed - and when God lets him out, no one believes it.
Acts 12:19-25 Glory of God - The strange incident of the death of Herod Agrippa.
Acts 13:1-12 The Missionary -  The nature, character and preparation of the missionary.
Acts 13:13-52 Evidence - The historical and prophetic evidence for the truth of the Gospel.
Acts 14 Perils of Imitation -  The perils of performing the Christian's first duty: the imitation of Christ.
Acts 15:1-31 Testing God -  The concept of testing God in the context of instructions to the first Gentile Christians.
Acts 15:35 - 16:5 On Failure - Dealing with failure in John Mark.
Acts 16:6-15 Hospitality -  The hospitality of Lydia, seller of purple, in Philippi.
Acts 16:16-40 Midnight View - Paul and Silas in jail, singing in the midnight hour.
Acts 17 The Incarnation - Paul's first sermon to the Greeks, revealing the one true God.
Acts 18:1-17 Tentmaker - The origin of the idea of a tent maker missionary.
Acts 18:18 - 19:10 Model of Unity -  Various roles in maintaining the unity of the church.
Acts 19:11-20 The Name -  An examination of demon possession and witchcraft.
Acts 19:21-41 Making A Buck - The encounter with the silversmiths of Ephesus, and how religion is often used as a money making system.
Acts 20 Preparation - Paul's farewell advice to the elders at Ephesus.
Acts 21:1-16 Prophecy - The role of prophecy in the New Testament church.
Acts 21:17 - 22:30 Primacy of God -  How putting God first in the life of the church cuts through argument and dissension.
Acts 23 Testimony -  Testimony as a concept, and as applied to the Christian life.
Acts 24 Two Years -  Paul's trial before Festus, and his two year confinement.
Acts 25-26 God's Ways, Our Ways -  The trial before Festus and Agrippa; Paul's appeal to Rome.
Acts 27 Storm - Paul caught in the storm; how the Christian should behave in times of trial.
Acts 28:1-15 Happy Habit - The happy habit (and great virtue) of hospitality to guests, including the Holy Spirit.
Acts 28:16-31 Redemption - Paul's final imprisonment at Rome; suffering for the faith and how God redeems it.

These lessons were originally delivered in 1998-1999.