Jesus’ Continuing Work

13 Aug

“In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.”
-Luke 1:1-2

These are the first words of Luke’s second volume: The Acts of the Apostles.  But I want to draw out a subtle point Luke makes in these words, and the encouragement and motivation that we can draw from them (as well as from the rest of the book of Acts).

Luke starts his second work by stating that in his previous volume (the book bearing his name, Luke), he dealt with “all that Jesus began to do and teach…”  In Luke’s Gospel account, we come face to face with Jesus, the great physician, both of bodies and souls.  He lives a perfect life in obedience to the law, performs great miracles (healing the sick, crippled, blind, and deaf) and signs (calming the storm and feeding thousands with little food) teaches the law of God and proclaims that the Kingdom is near, dies on cross (taking on Himself the curse and punishment belonging to man for his sin and disobedience), and rises from the dead in order to show the sufficiency of His work and the victory He’s gained over sin, death, and the devil (inaugurating the Kingdom).

Here is where it gets interesting.  In stating that his first volume dealt with all that Jesus began to do, it means that now Luke plans to tell of Jesus’ continuing work.  What is this continuing work?  Verse two tells us that it pertains to His commands to the apostles.  This command is explained in verse 8:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Jesus tells them they will receive the Holy Spirit, that they will receive power when they receive Him, and that He will empower them to be Christ’s witnesses (those who testify to His person and work) in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.  And this is exactly, what happens.  The rest of the book of Acts tells the story of the establishment and formation of the church, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.  Or, but another way, from the nation (Israel) to the nations of the world.  In this, God’s word of promise given to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 is fulfilled, as well as His calling for the nation of Israel to be a kingdom of priests to the nations.

So Acts is about Jesus’ continuing work by the Holy Spirit in and thru the apostles to establish and build up the Church (the body of which Christ is the head).

The reason this should be both a great source of encouragement, as well as a motivation for us today is simply this: Jesus’ work continues today.  He is still at work by the Holy Spirit in and thru His people to do the work of building up the Church.  We should be encouraged by the fact that Jesus is still at work, that His reign over His Kingdom continues and is advancing over the earth (in the hearts and minds of those who repent and believe), and that nothing can prevail against Him (Matt. 16:18).  And, we should be equally motivated because we have been empowered by the same Holy Spirit to do the work Christ has called us to: to live as witnesses to the Gospel and glorify God in our love for Him and others.  Not only does Jesus choose to use broken vessels like you and I to do His work, but He gives us a great promise (our receiving of power in the Spirit) so that we might be able to do that work.

And in this way, Jesus continues to work, until the day when all the sheep of the Great Shepherd have been gathered together, and He returns in power to consummate His Kingdom and reign forever. Amen.

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