Acts #1-The Doctor Is In

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Who is the most famous doctor in the world? At first my mind went to Dr. Suess–“I do not like Green eggs and ham, Sam I am–I will not eat them on a train or on a boat or with a goat,” and then I found out he isn’t a doctor. Bummer. Then my mind went to Dr. Jekyl-the best two part, one man show, but even that gets a bit schizophrenic, so finally I decided maybe you have been following the work of one Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr.! With his bullwhip in hand, his hat in place; he has become the world’s most famous archeologist by day and swashbuckling adventurer by night. He has risked his life and legacy to recover the Ark of the Covenant, fight the Nazis, save ancient stones from bloodthirsty cults, and after an extended hiatus or sabbatical he came back older and wiser to take on the Soviets harnessing the mysterious powers of the Crystal skull in an attempt to find the Holy Grail. Who are we describing? Non-other than Indiana Jones. Today we are going to look at the history of the church—Not studying as historians in our ivory towers, but instead in the mold of Indiana Jones, from the library or lecture hall to the land of the unknown, searching for answers as to why our church is here, taking risks, and finding the power to be empowered!

As famous as Indy is or was, today as we embark on an extended sermon series through sections of the book of Acts, we come to an even more influential doctor: Dr. Luke, beginning in his text from Acts 1:1-11, where we will study 3 essentials of Jesus power in order to be empowered ourselves!

As our quest for answers unfolds Luke turns to history not for outdated facts but for an unchanging foundation….He begins making it clear that…

Move #1:(It Centers on Jesus)(Acts 1:1-3) In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. (his presence) He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

Luke begins here by referencing his former book, which is the book of Luke in which he summarizes neatly for us its contents into just a few words, it focused on what Jesus began to do and to teach. Although Luke did not see Jesus first hand, most likely wasn’t even Jewish, he used his training as a doctor to take on the task of historian, meticulously, formally, and articulately– interviewing people who saw Jesus, talked with him, his remaining family, digging into all the available information and documentation. As he is writing again to Theophilus, which means lover of God, someone who like us was searching for truth, he makes clear that where the Book of Luke was all about how Jesus gave his life, the Book of Acts in turn is all about how he gave us his power!  As Luke prepares to give the “Rest of the Story”— he makes it clear that we can’t separate Jesus works (proof) from his words (presence)! That all his power may be noteworthy and exciting—the water into wine, the dead back to life, but the importance is in that they confirm his presence. In fact scripture reveals the purpose behind the miracles, “that you may believe that Jesus is Christ the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in his name. To experience his power, we have to believe in his presence, two coming together in what John Calvin the “holy-knot” of the Incarnation.

The problem comes when we start untying what God has brought together. I sat next to a devote Muslim woman on an airplane. I couldn’t resist asking her where she came down on Jesus. She told me she was a fan of Jesus the prophet, the teacher, the social justice leader, the reformer, but she had no need for Jesus the Savior.  The movement “Good Without God” is going around. Maybe you’ve seen the bumper stickers that are closely related Co-Exist with the symbols of different world religions- [Star of Islam, Ying/Yang of Buddhism, E=m2 for Science, Star of David for Judaism, Open faced cross for paganism, The Twisted Knots of Wican, and the Cross of Christianity!] At times we settle for the influence without the intimacy.

The result of good without God is a model without the motivation, a process without the power, work without any form of worship, it is all the head with none of the heart! Thankfully when the head is fine but the heart is ailing doctors do what is called a cardiac arteriogram—where they inject dye into the arteries and under X-ray doctors can see where the potential blockage may be. In our faith we need a spiritual arteriogram—testing the health of our heart—figuring out where there are blockages between our head and our heart. What disappoints you, what do you complain about, where do you make financial sacrifice?  By reflecting on what we do and how we do it we can start to ensure that our motivation behind our means is worshipping Jesus Christ, instead of just working around him!

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