Our elders recently finished a Wednesday morning study of the book of Acts. Each week, we would work our way verse-by-verse through Luke’s account of the early church. Our goal was to see what leadership principles we could glean (I haven’t used that work in a LONG time) from the history of the church.
We ended up with a list of 106 principles. No kidding.
But that’s not the point of this article.
I have been a student of Acts for as long as I can remember. Growing up in the Churches of Christ — part of the larger American Restoration Movement — the book of Acts was our fifth Gospel, after Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We went to the book of Acts to find polity and procedures. On topics from baptism to weekly communion, we found our home in Luke’s second book.
Our approach to scripture consisted of command, example, and inference. What did God say to do? What did the early church do? What inference can we draw from their example? Our brothers and sisters in the Independent Christian Church shared a common approach, opting to use alliteration instead: precept, precedent, and principle.
Acts become a proof text, rather than a living narrative of how the earliest Christ-followers followed Christ. Whenever I would browse a new translation of the Bible, I would hop over to Acts 2:38 to see how it was translated.
Don’t get me wrong: Acts proves many things. It proves that God uses imperfect people to spread a perfect message. It proves that God is responsible for the growth of his church. It proves that we can hinder God through our shortsightedness, prejudice, and traditions.
Acts is filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit, empowering, enabling, and equipping the church. Community and kinship fills the pages. While Acts does not tell the entire story of the church, it paints a picture of what life can be.
It’s good revisit familiar friends.