There is one more level I need to remind you of regarding the purpose for the Book of Acts. So I will clip excerpts from Bible Gem 1339 – Acts as a Manual – Church Growth or Missionary Manual?
These days, many are treating the Book of Acts like a Manual – A Manual for Church Growth or a Missionary Manual. Well, it is actually fine to treat the book as a manual because all of the Bible really is the Maker’s Manual for Living Life (as God intended it). There is nothing wrong with that. We should always conclude any Bible Study or Bible reading with the application step. How does this apply to me? What do I need to do now that I know this truth? But the essential question we have to ask and answer in this case is, did Luke write Acts as a Manual? And if he did, was it a manual for Church Growth or was it a Missionary Manual (an Apostles’ Handbook)? Many places I have been, I have heard the idea preached, taught, discussed and debated that Acts is a Manual for . . . whatever our Conference may be about or whatever our organisation may be involved in. But is that how Luke or God intended it?
Acts as a Church Growth Manual
Is Acts prescriptive for how church should grow and be planted? Is this the pattern for what churches should experience? Did Luke choose events he describes to give us a model for the things a good church should experience? Many appeal to the Book of Acts for the model churches should follow. The closing verses of Acts 2:42-47 seem to describe the ideal of how a church should function. Are these recorded in Acts for us to emulate or is Luke merely being an historian and telling us what happened, from which we draw our own conclusions?
What is also interesting about the Bible is that it always records everything, warts and all. Most ancient writings only included the stories of humans emulating the acts of the gods. There were no bad examples included. No human error, no sin tendency, no bad behaviour, no bad examples for others to follow. But that is not what we find anywhere in the Bible. The Bible is unique in that it tells human experience as it is – the good and the bad. The Book of Acts is no different. Luke tells us of Ananias and Sapphira, Paul’s disagreement with Barnabus, Paul’s short fuse with John Mark, Simon’s desire to profit from this Holy Spirit thing. He records for us both the good and the bad. That fact makes it more difficult to determine if this should happen or if it can happen. What is normal and to be expected, in fact prescribed, and what is abnormal and may happen but doesn’t necessarily mean it will. What is normal for the church? Many events are recorded in Acts once and not repeated. Remember repetition is used biblically for emphasis.
We have a record of how the early church sought for guidance from the Holy Spirit in the post-Jesus era. The overarching question for us has to be – is this normal or abnormal behaviour? Is what has been recorded meant to be descriptive or prescriptive?
Acts as a Missionary Manual
The Book of Acts appears to provide a model not just for Church Planting, Church Growth or other trendy topics related to the Church universally. It is also a good model for missionary methodology. In it we find the following teaching, stages, strategic plans. Call them what you like, they can be applied prescriptively for mission endeavour. Luke would have called the activity Apostolic, not Missionary. Luke gives us an account of how the early Apostles (read missionaries) went about the process of :
Commissioning and Sending Missionaries out
- The activities they were to do included: Preaching, Discipling, Church Planting,
- Appointing Elders, When to leave, Going back on Supervisory Visits.
- Discussing Strategy, key cities, multi-ethnic approaches
- Funding Issues including Church Support, Tent Making Approaches
- Trouble Shooting Matters
All in all, it is a comprehensive coverage of how to go about missionary endeavour. But while saying that, I am not convinced that Luke set out to write a Manual for Mission Methodology.
We are left with the question: What was Luke’s purpose in writing the Book of Acts? Was it indeed to provide us with a manual for Church Growth or Missionary endeavour?
- Or is that a spin-off that we can gain from what Luke wrote but which was not his main purpose?
- It is questions like that which you will need to ask and answer as we make our way through Acts.
- Now that you have followed the Gems through the whole of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles what is your conclusion?
I have now finished formatting all 2000 Gems in preparation for launching my new website. Now all the Gems and Nuggets I have written since mid 2006 will be available on this site for all of the books of the Bible I have gemmed. That includes: John, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Luke and Acts. All material I have created will ultimately be available with easy access directories, search capability and hotlinks to related material across the website. The new look website will also host God’s Awesome Book material, The Radio Rhema stories I told on air for three years under the title “What On Earth is God Doing?” Many of you have loved the quotes I include at the end of each Gem and have asked me over the years if they are searchable and readily retrievable. They are now. Others of you have asked if my personal stories which I include as illustrations or examples in the Gems and Nuggets can be collected and collated. That is now available for you too.
Over the last 10 months I have been working in the background to collate and provide all this for you. Duoplus are the company who have designed and constructed my website to make all of this available to you. I am delighted with the result; it is all so easy to use and navigate. No doubt there will be little things which will require tidying up once the website goes live. Be patient with us, it is a work in progress. I want to see everything Bible related I have ever worked on available to you at the click button. I have chosen to launch the website as soon as possible having formatted materials to fit the design features. But I have not yet edited all content or text. I am happy with that to the degree to which it allows you access at the earliest possible time. Following the launch I will then work steadily to correct any typos or mistakes. I chose that approach for your benefit. Ultimately Deeper Bible Online will be available to you through this website. Once the website goes live in a matter of weeks Bible Gems will return as a live and interactive process beginning with Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Watch this space.
Give God your problems and allow Him to give you solutions.Robert Daud
I want to know God’s thoughts, the rest are details. Learn Today; Lead Tomorrow.JPCC Classes
Your heart will take you further than your gift ever will.Christine Caine
If you live for the approval of others, you will die by their rejection.Rick Warren