The Book of Acts has been called the last historical Book of the Bible. In many ways, this is true; although other Books of the New Testament do record events that occurred during the first century and surrounding the work of the early church (Paul’s confrontation of Peter at Antioch, as recorded in Galatians 2, is one example), these are primarily letters and epistles to the brethren, also including commandments and encouragements from the apostles. Acts is the last Book of the Bible that simply puts forth a historical account of events, namely, the acts and teachings of Christ’s apostles and other ministers in the faith after His ascension. Many great miracles are recorded within this account: the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate in chapter 3, the miraculous earthquake that released Paul and Silas from prison in chapter 16, and God’s protection of Paulat sea in chapter 27 are just a few instances in which the power of God was made known to the world through these men and their testimony of the truth. That testimony is also evident throughout Acts, as the Book is filled with great sermons and teachings from men who have come to be known as some of the greatest disciples of Christ to have ever lived. Surely, it must be said that this Book records some of the greatest works of the church to ever be performed.
However, one statement that is made in Acts that is very interesting is in its very first verse. In Acts 1:1, Luke (the Biblical writer and disciple, not the teenager from Cookeville writing this in his bedroom) is dedicating this account to Theophilus and remarks about the recording of the gospel of Christ that he has already written. In that verse, he says this: “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach[…]” Luke looks back at everything that he has already written about the Christ and makes the statement that this has only been the beginning of the work that He has accomplished. It is with this in mind that he writes this Book, a record of the “wonderful works of God” (as 2:11 calls them) that were performed by the apostles of the early church.
We understand, of course, that the end of Acts was not the end of this work, either. Paul certainly didn’t seem to think so; in 1 Corinthians 9, he writes about the continuation of ministry that he endures. In verses 26-27 he writes, “Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” Paul realized that the work he had done and the preaching he had conducted up to this point in his life was not the end of his ministry; as he seems to say here, it was only the beginning. He makes this pledge: to continue the work for Christ that he has begun and to see it through to the end of his life. He would later challenge the church at Galatia, and by extent the church of today, to take up the same mission in Galatians 6:9- “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” In other words, the accomplishments of the apostles and of the early church were only the beginning of the works that Christ would complete in the church.
I want to write specifically for the teenagers here. Sometimes we have it pretty rough. We have school, that ever-present stressor, and the work that comes with it. We are trying to find ourselves, to discover our character, and to determine the course that we want our lives to take. On top of all that, we are expected to navigate the complex web of society and relationships, choosing our friends and attempting to be accepted by those around us. In all of that, it is easy to get bogged down and to forget about the work that we have in Christ. It is easy to forget the work that He has done for us and the commitment that we have made to honor Him and to be the examples and ministers that we have been called to be. We make our lives so much about being what our friends, teachers, and sometimes even family members want us to be that we forget about what God wants us to be and the good works that He has created us for. There is a truth in God’s Word that He wants us to know and to take comfort in. Jesus has already taught us everything we need to know. Jesus already knows every one of us and the course that our lives should and will take. Jesus is our Friend when the rest of the world hates us and when we aren’t accepted like we want to be so bad sometimes. Being a Christian as a teenager is hard when you have to deal with all of the problems that life is trying to throw at you. You don’t have to, though; Jesus takes them for you so that you can continue that work that He has given you and glorify Him in your life. That does not mean it will be easy. It means that it will be do
There are a lot of reasons to be doubtful right now, especially as a teenager. The world is a messed up place, and a lot of times it seems like it is only getting worse. It will soon be our turn to take it on, and a lot of times there seems to be no way to win. I would like to share with you, though, one thought that keeps me hopeful even looking at the challenge we are faced with. God has loved mankind since before He created us. He has given us so much, even to the point of sending His Son to die in our place. He has created each one of us and loved us as His own, and He has preserved His Word for us so that we could know Him and love Him, too. He promises to help us, and He promises to bring us someday to a home with Him.
“Being confident of this very thing, that He Who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” -Philippians 1:6