What would be the purpose of the Gospel accounts if Acts was never written?
If one wanted to find a chapter on intimacy between Christ and those that love Him dearly it would have to be John 15. There are many passages in this chapter that would cause one to stop and concentrate on what is being said. “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. (John 15:3) . . .for without me you can do nothing. (vs 5) . . . so shall ye be my disciples. (vs 7) . . . continue ye in my love. (vs 9) . . . and abide in His love. (vs 10) . . . that your joy might be full. (vs 11) . . . love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command. (vs 12-14) Christ is speaking to His apostles, the eleven, those that had given the last three years of their life in His service to learn of Him. Yet He would not be able to continue with them from here on out. Their intimate time together would be over at the end of this supper and dialogue. It would be over as far as Christ being with them anyway. Where can we see how they would act as a spiritual family united together through the blood of Christ? Acts. After the ascension of Christ, “Then they returned unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, and Philip, and Thomas, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, . . .” (Acts 1:12-14) “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all in one accord in one place.” (Acts 2:1)
Where can we read of their bond of brotherhood through the Holy Spirit that was promised the apostles? Of course, in the book of Acts. “And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” (Acts 2:43) Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of Acts speak about the boldness of the twelve and the name by which they spoke and healed people: the name of Jesus Christ. As His servants they claimed, “we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey” (the apostles) (Acts 7:32).
There is intimacy in Christ. The words of Christ give us comfort and hope like no other words. It carried the apostles on through their ministry and to the end of their lives. “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what His lord doth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:15) What words of confidence to so few that would spiritually save so many. Paul is a prime example as is Steven and so many others, even continuing to the Gentiles. The book of Acts gives us many accounts of the saving power of God’s Word. Even in times of dire circumstances as with the Philippian Jailor and his household, Paul and Silas said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord. . .” (Acts 16:31-32) “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30) and then such a simple response from our Lord in times past, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friend, if ye do whatsoever I command.” And so the jailor and his household became Christians.
Why is it that Acts is in the Bible? The faithful say, “Acts is a book written concerning a few of the acts of some of the apostles.” While the first few chapters attest for the unity of all the apostles, the rest of the book is centered around a few.
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it.” (John 15:16) The apostles’ appointer was God (John 17:12) and their Master and example was Christ. “Jesus began both to do and teach.” (Acts 1:1) Oh to be a student of Christ with the eleven. “Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandment unto the apostles whom he had chosen:” (Acts 1:2) There was also another that was chosen besides the eleven and Matthias. “But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; . . . (Acts 26:16-18) Oh the confidence to say these things to a king. We will need this confidence in the days to come! We have chosen to be Christians through the Gospel and the call is ringing loud to obey and fight the good fight. Why do we need the book of Acts? To see the courage of faithful brethren.
Acts teaches the same thing that John 15 does, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) And that name is Jesus Christ the son of God!
There are so many verses that lead into Acts from John:
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” (17:20) Also the great commission in the book of John, “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” (20:21-23) But even unto Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, loves thou me more than these? . . . Feed my lambs.” “Simon, son of Jonas, love thou me? . . . Feed my sheep.” “Simon, son of Jonas, loves thou me? . . . Feed my sheep.” (21:15-17)
The Bible is not a dead book. It is relevant to our every need in living a Christian life. The book of Acts shines through in proving the power of the Gospel. In the book of John we learn the intimate nature of our Savior and it is played out and demonstrated again by those that He called friends. In the book of Acts these men were more than just characters in a novel. They were preaching and teaching God’s Word, the message that can and will save mankind if heeded and obeyed. It is through Acts that we believe on Him through their word. It is in Acts where we see the “even so send I you” in action. It is in Acts where we understand the “lovest thou me? Feed my sheep.”
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” (John 15:8)