Welcome to Defender’s Voice. Greetings to every one of you in the most precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I hope you are doing well by the grace of God. Please visit our website www.doctorpaul.org for up to date information on our ministry. Download Defender’s Voice App on your mobile phone. You can watch and listen to all the latest episodes from this ministry.
We focus on evangelism, medical missions and orphan homes. Make a tax-deductible donation to this ministry. It helps us a lot to carry out this work. We are going through the books of the New Testament. Today let us see the Book of Acts.
This book is like a bridge between the four gospels and the epistles. It answers some historical and doctrinal questions. What happened after the death, burial and resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ? How did the early church start? How did the apostles start their ministries? How did they interact with each other? How did they take care of their needs? To get answers to those questions, you must read the Book of Acts.
Physician Luke wrote this book. He was a companion of the Apostle Paul. He wrote the gospel of Luke on the life of Christ. In this book, he describes how the church of Christ got established and prospered after his departure. Most likely he wrote this book between AD 60’s before the martyrdoms of Paul and Peter.
The first 8 chapters of the book focuses on the ministry of the Apostle Peter. Then it moves on to describe the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul. In some chapters, Luke uses the word, ‘we’, ‘we’, indicating that he was a living witness to these events he described.
As you read through this book, from chapter 1 to chapter 28, you will find Luke as a meticulous historian. He elaborates the events in great detail – the names of places, the names of kings and governors, their official titles etc. The book of Acts became a treasure trove of information for historians looking to ancient history. Obviously Luke took so much pains to write this great book.
Why did God include this book in the New Testament ? Why does he want us to read the lives of the apostles? If you look at the christendom today, it is polluted with so many worldly methods. It has been diluted by so many false philosophies of the world. It has been weakened by secular ideologies and practices. It has been exhausted by Satan’s continuous exploitations. How can you protect the church from these Satanic devices? The Book of Acts helps us to see how far we deviated from the paths of God, it helps us to see how far we fell away from the methods of God, it helps us to understand how far we moved away from truth into falsehoods. So, this book helps us as a diagnostic manual to identify our spiritual problems and also as a treatment guide to lead us into the right paths.
Let me show you 10 important things I found in the Book of Acts.
First, the apostles started as eyewitnesses of the life, death and resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ. Read chapter 3, verse 15
You killed the author of life,
but God raised him from the dead.
We are witnesses of this.
Author of life. That’s one of the precious names of Lord Jesus Christ. From tiny viruses to mighty dinosaurs, whales, human beings, plants – everything that has life in it is sustained by Christ. Your existence is a gift of God, who is the author of life. No living organism can stay even for a second without the sustaining grace of God. The apostles told them, ‘You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.
The apostles saw Jesus after his resurrection. They walked with him. They talked to him. They ate with him. They touched his wounds. They saw his deeds. They saw his journey to heaven on the mount of Olives. As they walked back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, they knew one thing for sure: their lives would never be the same again.
Next, we should look at their evidences. Let us read chapter 1, verse 3.
He showed himself alive after
his passion by many infallible proofs,
over a period of forty days,
and speaking of the things
pertaining to the kingdom of God.
For forty days, Jesus gave them many infallible proofs to show himself as a living being. Note those words: Many infallible proofs. The apostles did not sit down to write down convincing arguments to sell their religion to the world. Lord Jesus Christ himself gave them many infallible proofs of his resurrection from the dead.
There were no hallucinations or dreams or illusions or delusions. There were infallible proofs. He gave them long sermons like the one we read in Luke chapter 24. ‘Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them everything in the scriptures that referred to himself’ (Luke 24:27)
The appearances of the resurrected Christ and his teachings on prophetic fulfillment. Those two things became the foundations of the apostelic ministry.
The living Christ and the fulfillment of God’s promises in his life and work. Our lives will be blessed tremendously if we focus on those two foundations today.
Thirdly, their empowerment. Not only did they experience the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus; not only did they receive many infallible proofs of his resurrection, they were also empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. On the Day of Pentecost, when the believers gathered in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit descended on them. God would not let them do anything for him without the leadership of the Holy Spirit. ‘I will send you another comforter’. That promise Jesus gave them was fulfilled on that day.
We find the Holy Spirit mentioned over 50 times in this book. They must follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit. What should they preach? How should they interact with each other? Where should they travel? Who should they meet? Who should they heal? In all those matters, they prayed and submitted themselves to the Holy Spirit.
Fourthly, we should notice their enlargement and expansion. Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ committed suicide. Then there were 11 apostles left. God enlarged these 11 apostles into millions of people within a few generations. We read in chapter 2, that on the day of Pentecost itself, over 3000 people came to the faith. From Jerusalem, then into Judea and Samaria unto the ends of the world.
Let us read chapter 2: verses 46-47
‘All the believers shared everything in common;
Day after day they met in the Temple;
they broke bread together in their homes,
sharing meals with simple joy.
They praised God continually and
all the people respected them.
Every day the Lord added to their
number those who were finding salvation.’
Day after day they were meeting and praising God. ‘These meetings. These endless meetings. Everyday? this is boring’ – they never thought like that. Most Christians today meet once a week for an hour or so, even that one hour, you see some people on their mobile phones or drinking coffee or chit chatting. But the early believers enjoyed the presence of God everyday. Every day the Lord added to their number. Within a few generations, they grew into millions of people. God enlarged them and expanded them.
Fifthly, we should note their Evangelism. They gave tremendous importance to evangelism. Everyday they were preaching the gospel somewhere around the town. They were preaching in the temple; they were preaching in the prison; to men and women; to kings and queen, to slaves and masters, to scholars and illiterate; to Jews and Gentiles – they were preaching the gospel to everyone. Everyone should listen to this good news about Jesus Christ. Everyone should repent and get saved. Their evangelism helped establish new churches across the landscape.
Sixthly, we should look at their exclusivism. Their audience was inclusive but their message was very exclusive. First, Christianity is inclusive. Let us see chapter 10, verse 36.
Jesus Christ is the Lord of all.
That is a very important truth we should understand. Jesus Christ is the Lord of all. It’s an inclusive message. Anyone anywhere is welcomed to come under his lordship.
Christianity is also exclusive. Chapter 4, verse 12.
In no other else can salvation be found.
For in all the world no other name
has been given to men but this, and
it is by this name that we must be saved.
Note these words. It is by this name that we must be saved. If you listen to many Christian leaders, they often say, ‘Jesus and Muhammad are two different ways to God; Jesus and Krishna are two different paths to heaven; Jesus and Buddha both can give you salvation’. The apostles did not believe such falsehoods. They received, believed and preached one truth – salvation is only through faith in Jesus Christ.
Next we should understand their engagement. Having believed in exclusivity, they engaged with everyone around them. Their message was exclusive, not their audience. For a while, they believed that Christianity was only for the Jews. But if you read chapter 10, God gave Peter a heavenly vision. In this vision, Peter sees heavens open up and a great sheet descending upon the earth. It was filled with all kinds of animals, reptiles and birds. A voice told Peter, ‘Peter, get up, kill and eat’. Peter replied, ‘No, Lord, no; I cannot eat unclean things’. Then the voice told him, ‘Peter, do not call what God has cleansed unclean’.
We often contradict God. If God says, ‘this is unclean, do not touch it’, we say, ‘No, Lord, this is clean, it’s okay to touch it’ (sexual immorality, for example). If God says, ‘this is clean, you can touch it’, we say, ‘No, Lord, this is unclean, I cannot touch it’ (Gentiles in this case).
Thankfully, Peter was not disobedient to this heavenly vision God gave him concerning the Gentiles. He received people from the house of Cornelius, a high ranked official in the Roman army. He went to Cesarea and preached the gospel to the Gentiles. That was a turning point in the history of Christian faith. The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).
A eunuch was going in his chariot. He was reading the Book of Isaiah, from chapter 53. It was about the lamb of God. He was perplexed, ‘Who is this lamb of God, the prophet was talking about?’. At the same moment, the Holy Spirit inspired Philip, the evangelist. The evangelist ran to the chariot, sat beside the eunuch and shared the gospel to him. This lamb of God prophet Isaiah was talking about is Jesus, the crucified. The eunuch believed in Christ, got saved, and baptized immediately. What a dramatic transformation in the life of this official!
We see apostles preaching the gospel to kings, queens and governors. We see them preach the gospel to philosophers in Athens. Queen Elizabeth died recently. She represented the mighty British Empire for many decades. Throughout her life, she confessed her faith in Jesus many times. She became a Christian because someone took time to tell her the gospel. The apostles used every opportunity they got to preach the gospel. They were ridiculed, mocked and persecuted.
Roman governor Festus berated Apostle Paul, ‘You are a madman. You are a crazy person’. Herod Agrippa belittled Paul, ‘Do you think it’s that easy to convert me into Christian faith?’ Paul told them, ‘I want every one of you to become like me, except for these chains’. (Acts 26:29). Worrying about the souls of individuals who are prosecuting you! What an amazing heart of Christ in such an engagement with the lost!
Then we should also look at their empathy. Throughout this book, we can see the empathic work of the apostles. They were concerned about the lost souls. They were concerned about the sick and oppressed. They were concerned about the demon possessed men and women. They healed people of many illnesses; they raised people from the dead; they cast out the demons; they gave food to the hungry and shelter to the homeless. The ‘modern hospital’ is a product of this Christian empathy for the sick and suffering.
Let us read chapter 4, verse 32
‘Among the large number who
had become believers there was
complete agreement of heart and soul.
Not one of them claimed any
of his possessions as his own
but everything was treated as
The apostles continued to give
their witness to the resurrection
of the Lord Jesus with great force,
and a wonderful spirit of generosity
pervaded the whole fellowship’.
Note those words: A wonderful spirit of generosity. They never said, ‘This is my food; this is my home; this is my land; this is my property. These are my clothes’. They freely distributed their possessions to people in need. A person of faith will be more charitable than an unbeliever. Many studies have shown that unbelievers give very little to others. Christians are the most generous people in our world, as it always happened to be. The apostles set the precedent.
Next, we should look at their enjoyment. We might be tempted to think, ‘Apostles must be a very sad group of people.’ The truth is quite contrary. They were the happiest people ever lived. As you read through this book, you would see how they were filled with great joy regardless of their circumstances.
‘And the disciples continued
to be full of joy and
the Holy Spirit’
. The Holy Spirit and joy go together. One of the biggest lies of Satan is, ‘Holy Spirit makes your life miserable; He will kill everything you consider fun and enjoyable’. But the truth is, the Holy Spirit brings joy into your life. The disciples were jully of joy because they were full of the Holy Spirit.
They had them beaten and after
commanding them not to speak
in the name of Jesus they
let them go. So the apostles went
out from the presence of the
Sanhedrin full of joy that they
had been considered worthy to
bear humiliation for the sake of the name.
They were beaten and warned strongly not to go around preaching the name of Jesus. They did not blame God for their hardships. Rather, they were full of joy because they had been considered worthy to bear humiliation for the sake of Jesus.
We often meet people who say, ‘I lost this and that for Jesus’, ‘I am crying because of Jesus’, ‘I am suffering because of Jesus’.The Apostles did not make such complaints. They praised and thanked God for all things.
About midnight Paul and Silas
were praying and singing hymns
to God while the other prisoners
were listening to them.
Suddenly there was a great earthquake.
Paul and Silas were in prison. They were singing hymns to God. Then there was an earthquake! Jesus said, ‘Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full’ (John 16:24). The disciples asked, received and their joy was full.
Finally their encouragement. Throughout this book, we see the apostles encouraging people. In Acts chapter 20, we see Apostle Paul preaching a long sermon till midnight. A young man named Eutychus fell asleep, dropped down from a window and died. They were heartbroken by the incident. Then Paul went down stairs and raised that youngman from the dead. When people saw this young man coming back to life, the Bible says, they were ‘immeasurably relieved’ (Acts 20:12). The apostles did not do miracles for themselves. They did them to encourage others. How lighthearted you will feel when you are immeasurably relieved!
In Acts chapter 27, we see Apostle Paul in a big ship with hundreds of sailors. Enroute to Rome, the ship was caught in a violent storm. For many days, they could not even see the sun or stars. They became hopeless. They gave up on their lives. For many days, they had no food. They became too despised even to eat a morsel of bread. Then, Paul stood before them and said, ‘Don’t give up. Get up and eat. God will preserve your lives. Not a hair of anyone’s head will be lost’. He took some bread, thanked God, broke it and began to eat. In the midst of a violent storm, can you thank God and eat? Ordinary individuals would be tempted to curse God but not the apostles. The sailors were encouraged by the courageous faith of Paul. They ate and got strength.
Apostles had such great faith in God. A hurricane, an earthquake, a firestorm, a persecution, a famine, a drought…nothing made them anxious because they focused on Christ. They gave thanks to God and encouraged people around them. Faith brings courage and courage gives encouragement to people around the believer.
So, today, we’ve seen 10 precious truths from the Book of Acts. The apostles set an example before us.
May God give us his grace so that we can learn and practice those great qualities in our own lives.