Debbie & Tim introduce the new series looking at Acts. We are trying something new with our teaching for this series which will hopefully be more interactive and an opportunity for all of us to delve deeper and engage more easily in the Bible.
Tim has written a short explanation which I’ve attached below.
There’s lots of different ways that we read the bible… often we focus in on a few verses, sometimes we read longer sections. You might want to try both, but start off with reading a longer stretch as we read our way through the book of Acts, that is Luke’s second book following his account of Jesus’ life and teaching. In it he continues the story, this time focusing on the emergence and mission of Jesus’ church.
Over the next few weeks, we wanted to read Acts together, section by section. You might want to read alone, with those you are locked down with, or with your postcode group if you are meeting up virtually. If you have thoughts or questions as you read, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try our best to answer them in the short talks that we’ll post up on YouTube or have as part of the live stream services we hope to have from time to time.
The first section takes in Acts chapters 1 – 5. Read it through a few times and see what ideas and questions emerge for you and let us know. You might want to look out for the word ‘witnesses’ that crops up time and time again:
- Jesus tells his disciples that the ‘when the Holy Spirit comes upon you … you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere (Acts 1 v 8), something that plays out a little later when everyone hears ‘these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!’ (Acts 2 v 11).
- The disciples choose a replacement disciples for Judas to ‘join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 1 v 22).
- Peter tells the crowd on Pentecost that ‘God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this,’ (Acts 2 v 32) and then another audience that ‘we are witnesses of this fact’ (Acts 3 v 15).
- It is as though they ‘cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard’ (Acts 4 v 20; 5 v 20; 5 v 42).
- In particular, they speak time and time again about being witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 4 v 33; 5 v 31-32).
This all raises a number of questions for me:
- Why was the resurrection so central to their experience and their teaching?
- Why did they put so much emphasis on being ‘witnesses of this fact’?
- What are you a witness of? What have you seen, experienced, heard and learnt of God? Are you also ‘a witness of Jesus’ resurrection’?
The theme of ‘witnesses’ is something that struck me reading these chapters, and generated a number of questions. But let us know what strikes you and what questions it raises, and we’ll see if we can answer some of them in the talks we’ll post up over the coming couple of weeks. If you’d like to revisit some talks that cover some parts of Acts, head to the Podcasts page on the Bristol Vineyard site and make your way back five years to the very beginning of 2015! The first few touch on aspects of the first five chapters of Acts and are well worth a (re)listen.