The book of Acts is a tremendously important book in the life of a Christian believer. It contains some of the earliest history of the early church and provides great information about the church’s growth. Such rich information about the history of the Christian faith should be treasured! Acts serves as a connector or bridge between the Gospels and the Epistles of the New Testament, providing great historical and introduction information to the Pauline Epistles. Without the book of Acts, Christians would be left with many unanswered questions about the New Testament such as who were the authors, what happened after Jesus returned to the rather, and how did the church starts? Clearly, Acts has an irreplaceable spot in the Biblical canon.
The book of Acts also provides information about a crucial event in Christian history, Pentecost. This book is unrivaled in its information about the work of the Holy Spirit, the baptism of the Spirit, and the functions of the Spirit’s gifts operated in the life of a Christian. “Pentecostal theology appears elsewhere in the New Testament; however, any Pentecostal theology founded without the full benefit of the book of Acts would be severely impoverished”. It is often stated the book should be named “Acts of the Holy Spirit” because of the many circumstances that the Holy Spirit guided the early church and made a way for the advancement of the church.
It is true that the actions of a person stems out of what they believe. Some want to separate faith and practice, but this is not consistent with the Bible. The Bible uses positive and negative examples all throughout the Scriptures to illustrate lifestyles affected by beliefs. Historical information is meant to guide future generations into right living, and the book of Acts is no different. The material found in Acts is meant to guide Christians in their walk with the Lord and help them understand what they believe.
There are many theological and hermeneutical emphases found in the book of Acts. One main theological theme found in Acts is the continuity of the Holy Spirit’s activity. From the very beginning of the book, the Holy Spirit shows up and shakes up the life of believers. After the day of Pentecost, the Spirit inspired such boldness and passion in the hearts of Peter and John that they went out to preach in the synagogues of the city. The people were amazed at their teachings (much like they were at the teachings of Jesus) and recognized the authority in their words because it came with power from the Holy Spirit (Acts 3). The Spirit continued to guide the church and grow the church all throughout the book of Acts.
Another emphasis is that of the redemptive-historical perspective. This attempts to understand each verse, passage, and book of the Bible in the scope of God’s overall sovereign plan. This theology seeks to focus on the unity of the entire Biblical message and necessarily individual stories. The focus is events in history unfolding in God’s perfect timing. A great example from Acts can be found when Jesus tells his disciples, “wait for the gift my Father promised…you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5). The disciples had not yet received the Spirit nor had they went out preaching the name of Jesus because it was not time for them to do so. The time would be right when God was ready to carry out His plan, which can be seen in Acts 2.
A third emphasis, but certainly not the last, in the book of Acts is the primary role of the Holy Spirit. Over the years many viewpoints have been presented about what the role of the Spirit really is. The Holy Spirit has been said to be an agent of holiness, empowering the believer for service, and increasing the intimacy of relationship between Jesus and the believer. All of these things are true and the Holy Spirit certainly works in sanctifying a believer and creating a deeper relationship with Christ, the book of Acts is undeniable in defining the primary role of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8). The primary role of the Spirit according to the book of Acts is to empower the believer for service and to make greater witnesses.
Luke, the author of Acts, included theology and practice in historical-narrative that can be seen all throughout the book’s entirety. One of the most obvious methods that should be observed is that Luke wrote Acts much like the format of the Old Testament book of history. In the Old Testament, there are statements made by monumental figures that were intended to affect the practice and beliefs of those who read the books. “A look at Acts and the Old Testament accounts for many features of Acts. There is evidence that in writing Acts, Luke used Biblical language and models.”
By looking at the writings of Luke, it is clear that Luke intends to be more than just an observer or historian. Although he makes sure to record the events of history accurately, even if it means illustrating bad qualities in the early church, he also adds editorials to his work. He gives clues in his writings that reveal whether he approves or disapproves with the characters that he is narrating. Luke wants not only for his readers to learn accurate history, but also come to conclusions about the actions depicted in his writings and whether or not they are just. Pentecostals draw much theology and practice from the book of Acts and would be at a terrible loss if it were not appropriate to do so.
As valuable as drawing theology and practice from the book of Acts is to the Christian believer, it is important to exercise correct methods of doing so. It is quite possible to draw things from the book that the author never intended. When reading Acts, extra attention must be given in the clues that Luke left to illuminate what he intended for the reader to learn. An example is his tendency to report things repeatedly or report things that are similar several times. It is most likely that Luke wanted to reader to find extreme importance in those instances and repeated those things for emphasis. Again, one must not read deeper into the narrative than Luke intended. It may be tempting to add things or draw conclusions about certain topics with vague description, but such practice can potentially harm interpretation and must be avoided.