The Real Title of the Book of Acts

The Real Title of the Book of Acts May 11, 2016

Jesus Heals Lame ManActs 3:11-26

“The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach . . . .”

In Luke’s Gospel he faithfully recorded all that Jesus began to do and teach, but here in the Acts of the Apostles he faithfully records what Jesus continued to do through His Body here on earth.  “The Acts of the Apostles,” a title which is not in the original manuscripts, might better be titled “The Teaching and Acts of Jesus Christ by His Holy Spirit in His Body” – but that’s not a very elegant title, is it?

But that’s what Acts is really about.

Here in Acts 3 we see for the first time a more complete picture of the Body of Christ, filled with the Spirit of Christ, teaching and doing the things Jesus did while on earth.  In the Gospels, we frequently find Jesus praying, and so here we find the disciples of Jesus Christ, His Church, going to the Temple to pray, as He did.  Having prepared their hearts to meet their Lord, they encounter a lame man and by the power of the Holy Spirit they heal him.  This is the first sign or miracle that Jesus has done through His disciples (Pentecost is more done to them than through them, and it’s what makes this continuing Pentecost possible).

Because word and deed go perfectly together in Jesus Christ, and because Jesus Christ both taught and did, the apostles take this miracle as an opportunity to proclaim the Good News to the people, just as Jesus Christ did.  Their words, as their acts, point to God and glorify Him, as the Son glorified Him while on earth.

In the name of Jesus Christ, they offer the forgiveness of sins to all who repent and turn to Him in faith.

It’s clear, then, that Jesus Christ was there with Peter and John, through His Holy Spirit, continuing the words and acts He had begun while He was physically here on earth.

But where do we see such words and acts in our own lives?  When I go to the house of God, I don’t find my daily lame man that I heal.  I can’t technically say that Jesus Christ has performed any miracles through me, not in the sense of healing someone who was obviously sick or not whole being made whole in an instant by my word.

I believe that Jesus Christ performed miracles and that so did the apostles.  But in what ways can I see that Jesus Christ is continuing His ministry through me?

To begin with, miracles aren’t necessary to be a faithful and fruitful disciple of Jesus Christ.  If they were, then my life has been a complete failure, and so have most of yours.  So to look for the miraculous as a proof of Jesus Christ continuing His ministry through me isn’t much help and may actually destroy my faith.

However, this in no way means that Jesus does not desire or actually continue His ministry through us: we just have to look more closely, that is, with more faith.

In the first place, let’s begin with proclaiming and teaching the Word of God.  This is something every Christian is equipped to do.  No, not many are called to be official, ordained teachers in the church, and yet we are all called to speak about God.  If you have faith in Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit dwells in you, then you have been commissioned to speak about Jesus Christ.

The sword of the Lord has been placed in your hand today, and the question is how will you wield it, or will you wield it at all?  Think of the people that you are likely to meet today.  You might perform a kind of divine triage on them and think of them in terms of how you might best be able to speak Jesus into their lives.  For some, you have been given the ability and privilege of directly instructing them about the Lord and His will.  Among these are your children and spouses and immediate family.  Your Christian friends and the people from your church are also in this category.

It’s a terrible mistake to think that the only way or most important way to speak of Jesus Christ is to those who don’t know Him.  Jesus Himself spent more time talking to His disciples and training them than He did to those who didn’t already know Him.  Disciples have to be discipled somehow, and that somehow is you as you speak with the words of Jesus Christ.

For others, you have the ability to make Jesus Christ known on certain carefully chosen occasions.  This might include acquaintances, people you meet for the first time, and friends who are not Christians.

For some, you will have a very limited ability to speak explicitly about Jesus Christ.  For them, it will be your actions with only the occasional word, maybe obliquely said, that will be the presence of Jesus Christ in their lives.  In this way, your actions, though not miracles, are a continuation of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

In fact, I believe that all of your life and its words and deeds, however mundane, are a continuation of the acts and deeds and ministry of Jesus Christ.  Rather than lamenting the lack of miracles in your life, why not meditate and act upon that great abiding miracle in your life: the presence of Jesus Christ in all of it?

Miracles are instantaneous, rare, and of short duration.  After every true miracle must come a lifetime of faith without miracles.  But a life in Jesus Christ is the most wonderful miracle of all, the abiding, persevering, comprehensive miracle of a life offered daily and moment by moment to Him.  This is really the whole point of a miracle in the first place: to lead to a life of faith and faithfulness.

As you examine your life today, what if you saw it all as an invisible miracle, one perceived by faith?  What if every moment were filled with the presence of Christ and the opportunity to speak and live for Him?  What choices might you make today, and what blessing might you bring to others and yourself?

We are the Body of Jesus Christ, filled with His Spirit.  It is through us that He will speak and act on earth today and continue His ministry.

What might this look like in your life today?

Prayer:  Father, I pray that through the Holy Spirit, you might continue the ministry of Your Son in my life today.  Hearing and being healed by Your Word, may I speak the words of life to others.  Seeing and being healed by Your love, may I live in love and service to others.  May my whole life today be a sacrifice to You so that my life might become that of Your Son’s and His life may be united to mine.  Amen.

Points for Meditation:

Reflect on today or yesterday.  In what ways did Jesus speak or act through me?  In what ways did He desire to speak or act through me that I did not accept? 

Resolution:  I resolve to prepare my heart to consciously speak or act as Jesus Christ in one specific way today. 


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