When Steve first came to London from Australia to live here for three years he heard that phrase all the time on the underground, but didn’t know what ‘the gap’ was and he took a while to realise.
The question that’s troubled him a long time is why is there a gap between Acts and now? (See his new book for some great insights on this!)
Luke wrote Acts to remind his readers of what God did and does.
It’s not a story about Paul, it’s about the word of God spreading – because the word is still going on at the end, on a journey ‘to the ends of the earth.’
At the end of Luke, all Jesus has is a group of down and disillusioned disciples. That’s who he started with. They’d had training, three years with him, but then they blew it and now they were feeling like it was all over. These are those who are ready, though they don’t know it!
He appears to them over 40 days and what does he do? He opens the Word with them – opens what we call the Old Testament with them, Genesis to Malachi and shows them himself there.
There is no movement of God without the Word of God.
If we put the word of our religious institutions or our culture above his word, there’s no life. That’s what they did in the garden, put themselves above God’s word! How did that go?
The Word shows us how Jesus came to lay down his life, to receive in himself the just judgement of God, so that we could lay down our lives and receive his resurrection.
He connected with sinners. Why? Someone will say ‘He just accepted them.’ But he came to call them to repent and believe or face judgement. That Jesus doesn’t get let out of the box much these days.
He says to his disciples ‘now the gospel is going to go out to the ends of the earth’ – that’s a promise, not a commission.
He prepares them that the Spirit is going to come. They are being told to get ready, for what they don’t know is going to happen yet.
Then when He comes into their prayer meeting they get 24/7 worship happening at Pentecost. The Spirit is IN.
But they didn’t just spend hours soaking…
How long did it take before the Word goes OUT? Minutes?
And the Word never takes a backward step from then on.
Wherever the Word goes, the fruit is always disciples and churches. We see that develop in Jerusalem because by the end of the chapter there’s the example of an ‘on fire,’ God loving people there at Jerusalem.. BUT
The city wasn’t transformed.
Jesus prophesied it would be destroyed and it was in AD 70 and it happened according to his Word.
But from it, out of that city, a movement that’s unstoppable went to Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth, as his Word had said.
They go to Asia Minor. Ephesus, many other cities.
But those cities were not ‘transformed.’ Ephesus was a riot!
What’s the fruit of that first day of Pentecost? What does Luke draw our attention to?
We talk as if the gospel is here to change the city, socially, politically economically and so on, and neglect what the mission of God really is. What happened when the Word went out in the power of the Spirit?
People were transformed!
New believers were baptised!
Who turned from sin to the Lord and now are living for him and one another, and more and more people are being added as they meet across the city.
They don’t make Peter the ‘Senior pastor’ of a church in Jerusalem. He’s out on the edges in Joppa when the Spirit says ‘go to Cornelius’ house.’ This is how movements operate!
We know it’s hard here in the UK.
We know it’s hard in Oz.
But we can look at very hard places, like Nepal and Iran and we see their day has come! Millions of new disciples! How do we explain this? People have all kinds of theories, but we can’t control it – we can’t make anything happen.
What we can do is look at them and learn from them, and we can look at Acts and see…
- They are outward focused
- They are disciples making disciples
- They are praying for and with people
- They are sharing the gospel, baptising people, teaching them how to share the gospel too – and if they’re persecuted they call it a great honour.
We may say we want to pursue God, and worship is wonderful – but the promise is that if we pursue Jesus in the harvest field we will find him there.
We can all go out and reach and teach others to find and follow Jesus because this gospel is going to every people, in every place.
IF this resonates with you and you want to gather with others and pray and learn and share what God is doing where you are, please join us at LAUNCH this year either in the North or South of England. The BEST deals on tickets for this live event are on now but going fast!