With this message we begin the Life-study of the Acts of the apostles. As we come to the book of Acts, we need to realize that both this book and the Gospel of Luke were written by the same person. Luke 1:3 says, “It seemed good to me also, having followed all things accurately from the first, to write to you a consecutive account, most excellent Theophilus.” The first two verses of Acts indicate that this book is the continuation of Luke’s Gospel: “The first account I made, O Theophilus, concerning all things which Jesus began both to do and to teach, until the day in which He was taken up, having given command through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He chose.”
Before we go further, let us review some of the things that were covered in the Life-study of Luke. In this Gospel we have the Man-Savior, and we see that our Redeemer, the Savior, is the God-man. Luke gives us a clear record not only of the Man-Savior’s birth but also of His conception. Luke describes the Lord’s conception, birth, youth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension. Therefore, the Gospel of Luke has a broad span covering all the matters of the wonderful Person of the God-man from His conception to His ascension.
We may say that the Man-Savior’s conception was His coming down not only from the heavens but also from God the Father. Likewise, His ascension was His going back not only to the heavens but also to the Father. The Man-Savior’s conception was His coming down to earth, and His ascension was His going up to the heavens. By this coming and going the Lord Jesus became a wonderful Being. Through His conception and birth He became a Person who is both divine and human, both God the Creator and man, a creature. According to Luke 2:13 and 14, the angels exulted at the birth of the Man-Savior for our salvation. The angels praised God and said, “Glory in the highest places to God, and on earth peace among men of His good pleasure.”
As such a wonderful Person, the Lord Jesus lived on earth as a man with all the human virtues expressing the divine attributes. This was the way He lived and ministered. Whatever He lived, He ministered, and He ministered what He lived even unto death. The Man-Savior suffered death, walking into, through, and out of death. After making a tour of death and Hades, He came forth in resurrection. On the one hand, the Lord raised Himself up; on the other hand, He was raised up by God. Therefore, He entered into resurrection, and in resurrection He ascended to the heavens. Now this One, the glorified Man-Savior, is in the heavens. This is a brief extract of the crucial contents of the Gospel of Luke.
The Lord’s ascension was not the end of His activity. Rather, the Man-Savior’s ascension was another initiation. As we pointed out in the Life-study of Luke, Christ’s ascension was His inauguration, His initiation, into His heavenly ministry. The Lord’s conception was His first initiation, and His ascension was another initiation. His conception was the initiation of His life and ministry on earth; His ascension was the initiation of His living and ministry in the heavens. Hence, Christ’s ascension was not the termination of His activity; instead, it was His initiation into further activity— His ministry in the heavens.
The first book written by Luke, his Gospel, describes the Lord’s first initiation and His life and ministry on earth. Now there is the need of the second book, the book of Acts, to tell us into what kind of living and ministry the Lord has been initiated through His ascension. Therefore, Luke had the burden to write a second book to unveil the living and ministry of the ascended Christ. In Acts we see how the Lord lives and ministers in His ascension.
We would emphasize the fact that, according to the Gospel of Luke, the Lord lived on earth. That life and ministry were initiated by His conception and concluded by His resurrection. Then after His resurrection the Lord Jesus ascended to the heavens. This ascension was not a termination but another initiation. This initiation brought Him into a new realm, that is, into the heavens, where He now has another living with another ministry. This living and ministry are carried out not by the Jesus who was merely conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin and born in Bethlehem; it is carried out by the ascended Christ. The resurrected and ascended Christ is now living in the heavens and ministering there. The Lord’s living and ministry in the heavens are the content of the book of Acts. May we all be impressed with this picture at the outset of this Life-study of Acts.
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