Acts - Extreme Opposition Extreme Impact

Written by Dr. Luke, a Gentile, the book of Acts shows the transition of fearful disciples to bold apostles. It turns the focus from Jews to the international church across nations, languages and cultures.

Summary

Written by Dr. Luke, a Gentile. The book covers key events such as:

  • Birth of the Church, Pentecost
  • Peter rising as key leader
  • His vision to spread gospel to Gentiles
  • Conversion of Saul (Paul)
  • Gospel extending beyond Jerusalem, Paul’s first and second missionary Journeys.
  • Gospel reaches farther west to European regions. Third missionary journey.
  • Paul’s travel to Jerusalem, his arrest, difficult travel to Rome for trial. [1]

 

Timeline of New Testament Books

Introduction

The book of Acts shows the transition of:

  • Fearful disciples to bold apostles
  • Focus on Jews to Gentiles
  • God’s temple at Jerusalem to international church
  • Access to God through priests, to unlimited access
  • Jews as people of God to Christians across nations, languages, cultures.

Extreme Impact

  • And you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you
  • And you shall be my witness
  • And reach the world

Acts 1:8

Extreme Impact

The apostles’ teaching spread throughout the world like wild fire.  What caused this high impact?

Extreme Impact

The early church had extreme:

  • Power through God’s presence
  • Unity
  • Discipline
  • Boldness
  • Focus
  • Opposition
  • Risk

Which resulted in extreme impact – Story of Acts

Extreme Power

With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all – Acts 4:33

Extreme Unity

And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. Acts 4:32 NASB

Jesus’ Prayer

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me – John 17

  • What is the importance of unity among believers from the above passage?
  • In a divided global church, how can we work together for unity?

Extreme Discipline

Acts 5:4, 5 “Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last,

Acts 5:But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last.

Extreme Boldness

Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

Acts 4: 29 ”And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.

Acts 4: 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

 

Extreme Focus

  • Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. Acts 5:42
  • 2So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables Acts 6:3
  •  And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42

What was the focus of the apostles? Why?

Extreme Opposition

A Story of transportation of codfish in US. 

  • Freezing didn’t work
  • Transporting them alive in tanks had worse results

Extreme Opposition

  • Finally catfish, codfish’s greatest enemy were introduced in the tanks
  • Catfish chased and kept them better than before

Extreme Opposition

3-4 And Saul just went wild, devastating the church, entering house after house after house, dragging men and women off to jail. Forced to leave home base, the followers of Jesus all became missionaries. Acts 8 The Message

Opposition enhanced mission

Extreme Opposition: Internal - From Jews

Stephen boldly speaks out

“You are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now becomeActs 7:51-52

Extreme Opposition: Internal - From Jews

Acts 18:5 But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 6 But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.“

Extreme Opposition Prophesied

Jesus prepared us for it – “A slave is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. …. They will make you outcasts from the synagogues..; but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God (John 15:20; 16:1-2).

Extreme Risk: Why only sometimes protected?

  • At times miraculous escapes, at times flogging, imprisonment, death
  • Paul could have been saved by Agrippa but was sentenced to Rome

Seeds were planted for global evangelism

God is always in control

Where there is high risk there is high gain

Extreme risk: They put their lives on the line

  • “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Acts 15:26 NIV
  • Most of the disciples/apostles died martyr’s deaths. History has it that 8 out of 12 of Jesus’ own disciples died martyrs…

Paul used his prison as a powerhouse

Discussion

  • What other extremes do you observe in the lives of the apostles causing impact?
  • What do you think is most diluting the church’s impact today? Lack of  power? Impact?  Unity? Boldness? Sharing? discipline? Focus? Inability to face opposition? Risk? Any other?
  • What changes do you feel you need to make to your personal goals and lifestyle to improve your impact for Christ?

References

1.biblehub.com

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