Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 7 July 2018
Page 3

The Purpose of Acts

Gary C. HamptonLuke’s opening remarks seem to indicate that he thought of Acts as a continuation of his previous account of the works and the words of our Lord. He wrote, “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). The church is, after all, the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). Paul’s persecution of the church thus resulted in the Lord asking, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4). It might, then, be said that Acts gives its readers an overview of the workings of Jesus over the next thirty years following His resurrection.

The book is certainly consistent with Jesus’ stated purpose for coming to earth. He told Zacchaeus, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). McGarvey explained his understanding of Luke’s purpose in the introduction to his original commentary on Acts.

Much of the greater part of Acts may be resolved into a detailed history of cases of conversion, and of unsuccessful attempts at the conversion of sinners. If we extract from it all cases of this kind, with the facts and incidents preparatory to each and immediately consequent upon it, we will have exhausted almost the entire contents of the narrative.

Anyone wishing to understand the Lord’s purpose in building His church needs to look no further than this great book. It gives a very clear picture of the actions carried out by the earliest disciples of Christ who wanted to be followers in more than just name alone.

The Church that Belongs to Christ

Robert Johnson

Robert JohnsonThe language the New Testament was written in is koine Greek. Greek is a case-based language, and by that we are referring to a grammatical category determined by the syntactic or semantic function of a noun or pronoun. The case value reflects the grammatical function performed by that word in a phrase. For example, in Romans 16:16, Paul stated, “All the churches of Christ greet you.” In this instance, the prepositional phrase, “of Christ,” is a possessive genitive. A possessive genitive is where the head noun (church) is owned by the genitive noun (Christ). Thus, Paul spoke of the church being owned by or belonging to Christ.

While this may seem like nothing more than a lesson in grammar, it is of vital importance in how we view the church. Jesus had previously said He would build His church on the truth of Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 16:16, 18). The purchase price of the church was the blood of Christ, shed on the cross (Acts 20:28). Christ is head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23) because of Who He is and what He has done. He has all authority (Matthew 28:18), and so it is His will, which is in harmony with that of the Father (John 3:35; 6:38), that the church must follow (Ephesians 5:24).

It is totally and completely logical, and appropriate then, for the church to wear the name of the Lord. For religious groups to identify their denomination by something other than He who died for the church and possesses it, shows it cannot be the one, true church that Christ established. One example of such is a group called the Church of the Apostles. The apostles, as important as they were, and as significant as their work was, never referred to the church as belonging to them. Paul actually addressed this principle when he wrote to the church in Corinth. “What I am saying is this: One of you says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Cephas,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name?” (1 Corinthians 1:12-13). What does it say about people’s attitude toward Christ and His church when ownership is attributed to someone or something else?

There is something else we have to consider in this, too. The language of the New Testament itself tells us that since the church is owned by or belongs to Christ, then the church must be in submission to the will of Christ if it is to offer us life and salvation in Him. Paul was clear what the consequences are if we alter His message of truth. “As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!” (Galatians 6:9). It is not in our purview to change what our Lord in Scripture defined the church to be, how the church is to function or what life in the church is to be. We can say, “Well, I believe,” “I feel” or “I want,” but the fact of the matter is none of that matters. It goes back to Whom does the church belong? Did we die for the church? Are we divine so we know what the church needs or how it should function? Is there any evidence in Scripture that we are granted the authority to shape the church according to human desires?

The church offers us the greatest blessings when we submit to God’s will, when we allow Christ to be our Head and lead us in His way, as well as when we seek to glorify Him and find our purpose in Him. The church was not established for our enjoyment and entertainment, but for the glory of God in Christ. Being added by the Lord means we seek Him to mold us in His image, to help us fulfill His purposes for our lives and to find the goal of eternal life. These things transcend the short-term goals of fleshly pursuits. They are the only ways for us to be part of His kingdom, for our Lord to perfect holiness in us and to assure us of eternity (2 Corinthians 7:1).

We must be sure we are of the church that is Christ’s possession. We must live as He has prescribed for us to live. Only His people, who today are His church, will gather around His throne in Heaven. “But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).

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