What would be the purpose of the Gospel accounts if Acts was never written?
Three points in Matthew:
1. Why would there be a seeking of the kingdom if the kingdom never came? (Matthew 6:33) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Why would it be said in the book of Matthew that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, if it never came? (Matthew 3:2, 4:17, 10:7) The book of Acts gives an answer to the kingdom question.
2. When did Jesus build His church? (Matthew 16:18) And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Peter gave a great confession of faith in answering Christ, saying, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” and upon that confession Christ said that He would build His church. When do we see the establishment of it? Not in Matthew. When were the keys of the kingdom of heaven given to Peter and the other apostles? Not in Matthew. In Matthew 16:20 the disciples of Christ were charged by Christ “…that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.” When were they given the charge or commission to tell others of Christ in the preaching and teaching of the Gospel? Well that was in Matthew, 28:18-20, but when was it done? Not in Matthew. In Acts we read of the fulfillment of the great commission. In Acts we read of this being done in the city of Jerusalem where the apostles would tarry until they would be “endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:46-49)
3. More specifically, when did the “Great Commission” take place? (Matthew 28:18-20) The authority to claim all power in heaven and earth was given to Christ in Matthew by God, but what about the fulfillment of:
a) “Teaching all nations” – Acts 2:1-12.
b) “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” or more so by the authority of God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit – Acts 2:38 teaching, then baptizing them in verse 41. (Acts 8:12-13,16; 8:38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15,33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16) All these were baptized and many more for the remission of their sins, which could only happen after Acts 2 opens up. Not in Matthew.
c) “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” – Acts 2 through Revelation 22:21. Scripture does what for the Christian? (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
1. It is our doctrine – the faith – the standard by which we live. (Acts 2:42) We must continue steadfastly in the doctrine of Christ.
2. It is our reproof, to reprove or convict us of our sins. (Acts 2:22-36) And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourself from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:40)
3. It is used for correction in bringing us to Christ. (Acts 2:28) The very words followed by action and obedience that bring us to salvation. Cornelius recounted to Peter and the Jews with him what the angel had told him concerning a man that would come from Joppa whose surname is Peter, “Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” (Acts 11:14) These were words of salvation.
4. It is for our instruction as a Christian to live out the rest of our days faithful to God. (Acts 2:42-47) Are there any more beautiful words that could be penned concerning faithfulness than these, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” ?(Acts 20:32)
d) “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20) – Assurance – “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11) The apostles had already been told by Christ in the gospel accounts that He would go and prepare a place for Christians and that He would return, but in Acts there would be one last reminder for them before that great day which would start their work in the kingdom which they had been preparing for for so many years.
Why is the book of Acts so important? It is the history of the church. Why is Acts chapter 2 so important? It is the birth of the church. It is the very start of the things we know and teach and stake our very salvation in, the Church, the very body of Christ made up of believers that find eternal salvation in Christ. He is the only head of that body and in Him we live and we die.
The Gospel accounts tell of the life and words of our Savior. The book of Acts tells us of some of the acts of some of the apostles, but more so it tells us history. It tells of cities and dates and people that were affected by the Gospel. The letters or epistles after Acts tells us of the supreme care and guidance that God has for His people – then, now, and in the future. One whole testament for the rest of time. Amazing! And Christ ties it all together, as does the book of Acts.
Next week we will take a look at the gospel accounts of Mark and John as we did the book of Matthew. These accounts could not just end as they were written. Again Acts ties all things together.