Acts 29

So here we are at the end of our series on the Book of Acts. This will be the last of these blog posts.
 
I particularly want to thank our contributors through the series – Duncan, Vicky, James, Penny and Paul. I’m sure you will agree with me it has been refreshing to read different people’s perspectives on the various passages as we’ve gone through the series, in parallel with the preaching on Sundays. Thanks to you all!
 
Now, Paul spoke on Acts 28 on Sunday, and the topic of this final blog post is... Acts 29. But, I hear you say, there is no chapter 29 in Acts! And you are quite right, of course. But as Paul pointed out on Sunday, Luke ends the book of Acts quite abruptly – not quite in mid-sentence, but definitely in mid-story.
 
If I were writing Acts, I would probably want to wrap everything up neatly: continue the story over the next few months or years that Paul was in Rome, before ending with his execution, and a valedictory conclusion that refers back to the themes introduced in the first chapter. But all scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and so Luke ends with Paul proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, because...
 
Acts 29 is about us! Acts 29 is the story of the Empowered Church. And we’re still writing it today, nearly 2000 years after Luke put down his pen.
 
For me, as we’ve been going through Acts for the past four months, two themes have shone out strongly through the whole book. The first is ‘witness’. “You will be my witnesses,” said Jesus in Acts 1, “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” Throughout the book we’ve read of Peter, James and John, Philip and Stephen, Paul, Barnabas, Silas and many others doing just that – being witnesses for Jesus as the gospel message spread wider and wider, until we end up with Paul in Rome.
 
But Rome is not the end of the earth, not then and not now. So the story continues with us, with the Empowered Church. We are called to be witnesses to Jesus throughout the world. And though the gospel message has now reached almost everywhere on the planet, there are still plenty of people, even here in Poole, who need to hear the message of salvation. So we need to continue to be witnesses to Jesus – to our friends, neighbours, work colleagues. As our British society becomes ever more secular, we all need to be, like Paul, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness.
 
The second theme that comes strongly through the whole book of Acts is the power of the Holy Spirit. “You will receive power,” said Jesus, “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” And through the book we see multiple examples of the Holy Spirit at work in empowering the preaching of the word, in miraculous healings, in returning life to the dead, in transforming people’s lives.
 
And the Holy Spirit is still working in the same way today. ‘Walk by the Spirit,’ Paul urges us in Galatians 5, and ‘if we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.’ The Holy Spirit is the one that gives power to the Empowered Church, and we are missing the whole point if we only live by human wisdom, by human strength. Let’s each of us live expecting the Holy Spirit to empower us. Let’s ask him for his gifts of knowledge, of prophecy, of discernment, of healing and let’s exercise those gifts.
 
As we reflect on the Book of Acts, let us go forward as the Empowered Church, living as witnesses to Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen!