Every book in the Bible has something to teach us and Acts is no exception. It is a particularly exciting book to study for a number of reasons:
1) It is not very well known
Although the book is one of the longer books in the New Testament, it is perhaps not as well read or understood as some parts of the Bible. We know the importance of focusing on the Gospels because they record the events of the life and death of Jesus, but we do tend to jump in our minds immediately to the letters that contain teaching for the early Christians. It is good to get to know a book that is relatively unknown better.
2) It is about what Jesus has done and is doing in the world
Acts might rightly be called Luke Part 2 as it is written by the same author to the same recipient. It is written to be a continuation of the account of the work of Jesus in this world. In the first verse of the book Luke says that his gospel was about what Jesus began to do and teach. By implication he is saying that the book of Acts is about what Jesus continued to do and teach. The work of Jesus is continued in the world through the witness of his followers. Intriguingly, the book does not really have a formal ending and leaves the story almost mid-thought. Luke does this to show that the story has not stopped and the work of Jesus continues to this day in the world through Jesus’ followers.
3) It provides the background to many other letters in the New Testament
Whenever I begin to study a letter from the New Testament I often look for the record of that place in the book of Acts. This gives important and helpful inspired background to the letters and the material we find in them. I will often find that questions I have about the background to a letter are answered by the historical context that we have in the book of Acts. For this reason Acts is a great way into the rest of the New Testament.
4) It is full of great sermons
Although we might all wish it possible, no preacher gives inspired sermons where everything said is given by the inspiration of the Spirit of God. However, the book of Acts records the Apostles’ Holy Spirit inspired preaching that was without fault or error. We can look forward to hearing these inspired sermons that are found at a number of points through the book.
5) It is an exciting book
There are lots of exciting events in the book of Acts – prison escapes, great healings, interactions with important rulers and thousands of people hearing the gospel message and responding in faith. It is a fast moving and engaging book full of variety and interest.
6) It is a book that gives us hope
We don’t live in days where there are 1000’s of people turning to Christ after one sermon and we can find that discouraging. However, this is a book that gives us hope because it shows us what the Spirit of God can do in the hearts of those who hear the gospel. Our world has changed a lot since the time of the Apostles, but God has not changed and the Lord can work now as he did then. This book is very important because it builds our confidence in the power of God to do these things in our day and it encourages us not to give up praying and hoping that he might.