The Book of Acts pictures the church's history. It starts at Jerusalem and ends at Rome. It covers a period of transition, with Israel moving off the scene and the church coming to the forefront. God's prophetic program, as outlined in the Old Testament, gives way to a new program, the mystery of the church. It was natural that Peter and the other apostles minister to the twelve tribes of Israel; while Paul ministered to the body, the church. It was through Paul that God revealed His new program (see Ephesians 3). The ministry of Peter is covered in chapters 1-12; while chapters 13-28 deal with the ministry of Paul.
The Book of Acts was written by Luke, the beloved physician. It is vitally important that we understand the basic message of the book, and to do this we must survey it in a general way. It is clear that this book traces the setting aside of Israel and the Kingdom message, following the establishing of the Gospel of the grace of God. The church actually began at Pentecost, but was not fully revealed until later, through the ministry of Paul. Christ had promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18), and in the Book of Acts we will see Peter preaching basically to the Jews; while Paul is preaching the Gospel of grace to the Gentiles. Jesus' great promise in chapter 1:8 was one that gripped the hearts of the disciples and of Christians today, throughout the world. This was His last message to His apostles before ascending to heaven. The teaching in verse 8 clearly reveals God's plan for giving the Gospel. Here at Fundamental Baptist Church our Jerusalem is Ventura; the surrounding cities are our Judaeas; the country is our Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world are the different places where we are supporting missionaries.
Chapter 2 records the happenings on the day of Pentecost. The Feast of Pentecost took place fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits (the word Pentecost means fiftieth). This feast is outlined in Leviticus 23:15-21. Just as the Passover is a picture of the death of Christ (I Corinthians 5:7) and the Firstfruits is a picture of the resurrection of Christ (I Corinthians 15:20-23), so Pentecost pictures the coming of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13).
It is interesting to note the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts. In chapter 2:38 Peter tells the Jews, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." In chapter 8:14,15 he prayed for the Samaritans, laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. In chapter 10 the Holy Spirit came to the Gentiles when they believed, and Peter could only stand by in amazement. The teaching of verses 43-48 is to hear the Word, believe the Word, receive the Holy Spirit, and then be baptized. It is very important that we not get any of these out of order; for when we do, we confuse the simplicity of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
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