“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:” (Acts 1:1–2, AV)
When I was in the United States Army, stationed in Germany, I did not have a television, but only a small portable radio. On Saturdays and Sundays, while sitting in my one-room Bachelor Officers’ Quarters, (BOQ), I would listen to the Armed Forces Radio Network. There was a program that came on by a man named Paul Harvey. He would tell a portion of a story and then he would come to a turning point at which he would say, “now the rest of the story.”
As we begin examining the book of Acts, it is interesting to note that the author of this book, Luke presents an interesting introduction to the book. He begins by referring back to his first book, that is the gospel of Luke. Looking back to the introduction of Luke’s gospel account, we see that he wrote it for Theophilus that he would be certain of the things he was taught. In this book, he recorded in a historical style the life and works of Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts, he stated that the gospel contained “all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up.”
The gospel of Luke then seems to be the first act of a tremendous play written to Theophilus. But now comes, “the rest of the story.” Now Luke presents to Theophilus the record of what happened after the ascension of Jesus. He picks up the story where the first book, the gospel ended. He writes this to give an account of what happened in the formation of the early church.
Many have titled the book, “The Acts of the Apostles.” Yet, others indicate that it would better be called, “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.” Perhaps it would be best to consider it the acts of God in providentially building the church. In any case, in this book we see the movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers commissioned to a great work.
As we look to Luke’s first book, we would conclude that this book is “The rest of the story.” However, should we not better refer to it as the next act in the great play. For the book of Acts does not conclude at the end of the story. We are all part of the story. We have a vital part in the great play. Moreover, our part does not end the story either. Others will come after us until that glorious day of the Lord.
We as a church have much to learn from this book for in it, we see one of the most dynamic and explosive times of growth in the history of the church. The record will show us much about how we, as a church, should proceed in fulfilling the Great Commission. There are vital patterns and principles for us to learn and follow in our work.