Transitioning from Luke to Acts
This is an exciting week for us. First of all we conclude reading our first book of the Bible together. Step back and celebrate for a moment. Whether this is your first time through the Bible or your 50th, God is changing us through studying His Word together. As you start reading Acts this week, remember the book of Acts was also written by Luke. As a matter of fact many scholars see the Book of Luke and Acts as one work. It has been suggested that it may have been separated because the 2 books would be too large for one scroll. The important point is that Acts is a continuation of Christianity’s history.
As Luke closes, the author recounts the ascension of Christ to heaven. Interestingly, Luke is the only Gospel that speaks of Christ’s ascension. Remember Luke’s self proclaimed purpose in his writings was to tell an orderly account of the story of Christianity. Christ’s ascension to heaven opens the door for the Holy Spirit. As the book of Acts opens, God gives His church a gift; His Holy Spirit. Amazingly this Spirit resides in all believers to give them not only His authority and power, but wisdom, guidance and comfort. Imagine the God of the universe desiring not only to give His followers power but also comfort us like children?
Another transition seen in our reading is the celebration of communion. Jesus shares the Passover with his followers in Luke 22 to mystically connect us to Christ’s death, given for our salvation. In Acts 2 the disciples are seen “breaking bread,” which was seen as the celebration of this very sacrament. Throughout church history, communion served as a very powerful reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for the atonement of sins. For the Jews the Passover feast was a celebration of their liberation from slavery. It was a remembrance of a rescue. It serves the same purpose for us today- it reminds us of our rescue.
One of the most pronounced transitions from Luke to Acts is the transition we see in (Title?) Peter. As Luke closes, Peter is a broken, humiliated man who did the very thing he told Jesus he would die before doing. In Acts 2 Peter is a bold, committed leader. What an amazing transition! Consider both Peter and Judas betrayed Jesus, but Peter clung to the forgiveness that led to his healing, where Judas was overwhelmed with despair and eventually killed himself. Peter persisted through the pain and brokenness to become the “Rock” Jesus said he would become in Matthew 16.
Tips for Reading (Interpretation tip)
(Note: This section is help for Bible Reading in general. It has been building throughout the year under the topics of Observation (what the Scripture says), Interpretation (what it means) and Application (what it means to your life). Feel free to look back over past weeks to get the whole picture.
Since we’re talking about transitions, let’s spend time searching for transitional words in this week’s reading. Words like THEREFORE, BUT, BECAUSE, and SO should look like a bridge to you. They connect the thoughts you are reading together. Take time to connect the thoughts. For example, Acts 1:8 says “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you: and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” The first word we see is “but.” The word “but” is important because it indicates a contrast or a change of direction. It refers to the preceding context, which is a crucial Bible study aspect. So we need to look at the two verses before Acts 1:8 to understand the connection.
6So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
7He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
The contrast is between the earthly kingdom and power Israel is expecting, and the heavenly Kingdom of God Jesus ushers in through the power of the Holy Spirit. As I relate this verse to my life, I realize the Spirit is in me to be a witness of this kingdom as well and to be available in my Jerusalem today.
This week, look for transitional words. You can even circle words and connect them with arrows to reinforce the word in your brain and help you remember important facts. Remember, the goal of Bible study goes way beyond a check mark on a “to do” list. The goal is retention and a changed life. Do whatever it takes to achieve this goal.
Notes from David's Journal
Last week I read a quote by Mother Teresa. She said, “The best way to learn humility is to be humiliated.” Gulp. Sigh. Gulp again. I hate humiliation. Can’t I be humble and put together at the same time? If I look at Peter’s life, I know the fastest way to humble, yet amazingly strong leadership. Just accept my brokenness and my desperate need for Jesus. Jesus warned Peter at the last supper that Satan had asked to “sift” Peter and he was praying his faith would not fail. He tells Peter when it’s all over, he needed to strengthen his brothers. When I think about how tiny and broken the pieces of flour have to be to go through a sifter I get a great word picture of just how broken Peter was the night of his denial. The greatest thing about Peter’s denial is he got knocked down, but when he arose, he was a new man. He was now ready to lead the church, not through his own power, but through the power of complete and utter dependence on the Holy Spirit. How do I react to my sifting? Do I accept my place among the broken and reach for my Savior? I can see the result of such actions so clearly in this reading. Of course, Mother Teresa was right. Ok I admit it. I pray God will make us all Peters; humbled, with unfaltering faith.