Like a rollercoaster, our #LentChallenge has led us up a steep climb the past three weeks. Clicking us to the top, we’re about to take a whirlwind, spiraling adventure through the remaining books of the New Testament—all of which have one thing in common: the early church.
Beginning with Acts and winding through the epistles, we are about to catch a snapshot of church history, witness the power of the Holy Spirit, and fall even more in love with God along the way.
Are you in?
I hope so.
Even if you’ve fallen a wee-bit behind, that’s okay! Keep reading. You’ve got this.
Here are 5 wild facts about the early church that you should read before you buckle your seatbelt:
1. Bridges the gap.
The book of Acts bridges the Gospels and Epistles, combining both history with faith. As a sequel to the Gospel of Luke, Acts serves as a historical account of the early church. In the Gospels, Jesus teaches. In the Epistles, the message of Jesus is being taught. [Tweet this]
2. A new name may be in order.
The book of Acts is traditionally called “Acts of the Apostles,” but a better name might be “A Few Acts of Peter and Paul” or “The Gospel of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit plays a pivotal role in this book and is mentioned 55 times. Each time you notice the Holy Spirit at work, put a star by the passage.
3. Stories of transformation.
In Acts and throughout the Epistles, we catch a glimpse of the transformation of Peter, a follower of Jesus who went from denying him three times to boldly proclaiming the Gospel. We also watch as Saul, a persecutor of Christians becomes Paul, a father of our faith and other of the majority of the New Testament. Through the lives of these followers of Jesus, we’re reminded that God can use anyone—even you and me—as tools for his redemptive plan.
4. Prepare to be encouraged and challenged.
Resisting the government’s authority. Sexual immorality. Conflicts between believers. Disunity among followers of Jesus. You name it, the early church probably wrestled with it. Reading about the history of the early church in that particular city using a study Bible can help decipher tricky passages, allowing us to fully understand the context to which it was written.
5. Where in the world?
It’s best to read Acts and the Epistles that follow with a map nearby to notice where the adventures of Peter and Paul take them, as well as where each church is located. Each time a city is mentioned, find it on the map.
As we dive even deeper into God’s big story, may we find ourselves wonderstruck by his grace again and again.
This week I’m giving away THREE copies of my friend, Jonathan Merritt‘s new book: Jesus Is Better than You Imagined.
I don’t say this lightly, but this is the BEST BOOK YOU’LL READ THIS SPRING! It’s remarkable in 1000 ways. Beautifully written. Scripturally insightful. Delightfully provocative. Jonathan takes a huge risk in sharing from his own struggles with faith and sexuality. His stories are compelling and will haunt you—in a very good way.
Through a 60-hour vow of silence in a desert monastery, he experiences Jesus in silence. When a friend dies of a rare disease, he sees Jesus in tragedy. Through confronting childhood sexual abuse, Jonathan discovers Jesus in honesty. In an anti-Christian-themed bar, he finds Jesus in sacrilege. And when he’s almost kidnapped in Haiti by armed bandits, he experiences Jesus in the impossible.
To win ONE of THREE copies of Jesus is Better, enter a comment on the original post at MargaretFeinberg.com. Winners will be selected and announced next Wednesday.
Congratulations to the winners: Jason, Christina, Gina Miller
How is Jesus better than you imagined?