Darrell Bock points out eight characteristics which the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts tells us should set the followers of Christ apart.
Today, we will look at the first four:
While each of the following verses deserves further explanation, I thought I might walk through the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts and simply note what these passages say on the surface about the importance and role of faith in the life of the church.
a.) Faith is tied to forgiveness of sins.
Luke 5:20 – “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
b.) Faith amazes Jesus.
Luke 7:9 – “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowds following him, he said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.'”
c.) Faith makes a man well.
Luke 17:19 – “Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.'”
d.) Faith heals a man.
Luke 18:42 – “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”
e.) Faith makes a man strong. Faith comes through Jesus.
Acts 3:16, “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you all can see.”
f.) It is possible for a believer to have a large degree of faith.
Acts 6:5, “They chose Stephen, a man full of faith…”
g.) Faith is evident in a man’s response to Paul’s preaching and commands.
Acts 14:9, “He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed, and called out, ‘Stand up.'”
h.) God is the one who enables people to believe.
Acts 14:27 “They reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”
i.) God purifies hearts through faith.
Acts 15:9, “He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.”
j.) God saves through faith.
Acts 16:30-31, “‘Sirs what must I do to be saved.’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.'”
k.) Paul commands us to have faith.
Acts 20:21, “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”
l.) Paul spoke about faith in Jesus.
Acts 24:24, “he sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.”
m.) Believers are sanctified by faith.
Acts 26:18, Jesus tells Paul that he is sending him to the Gentiles, “so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
In the gospel of Luke we see Christ’s call for absolute commitment to Himself and to His cause and in the book of Acts we see believers demonstrating just that.
a.) Following Jesus requires self-denial and picking up one’s cross daily.
Luke 9:23, “Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'”
b.) Following Jesus sometimes may might life uncomfortable.
Luke 9:58, Jesus warned someone who wanted to follow him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
c.) Following Jesus requires single-minded vision and perseverance.
Luke 9:60 and 62, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God…No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
d.) Following Jesus demands that you prioritize Him above everyone and everything else.
Luke 14:25-27, “Large crowds were following Jesus and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.”
e.) We see the total commitment of believers in the book of Acts.
Acts 2:45, “Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”
f.) Peter demonstrates his commitment to the cause of Christ above his own life.
Acts 4:19, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen or heard.”
g.) The believers demonstrate their commitment through giving of their financial possessions for the good of those in need.
Acts 4:34, “There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”
h.) The leaders of the early church found joy in suffering for the sake of Christ.
Acts 5:41, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”
i.) Persecution for the sake of the gospel didn’t stop the early church from proclaiming the gospel boldly.
Acts 8:4, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.”
Believers are not meant to simply get together, close the door and forget the fact that everyone else is perishing. They are to pursue sinners with the gospel.
a.) Jesus says that he did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
Luke 5:31,32, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
b.) Jesus demonstrated his willingness to reach out to outcasts.
Luke 7:34, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard and a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”
c.) Jesus tells many stories to demonstrate the importance of pursuing the lost.
d.) Jesus tells his disciples that the gospel will be preached to all nations.
Luke 24:47, “and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations beginning at Jerusalem.”
e.) Jesus tells his disciples they will testify of him everywhere.
Acts 1:8, “But…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
f.) We see the early churches commitment to spreading the gospel all throughout the book of Acts.
Luke and Acts repeatedly emphasize the importance of devotion to God and to one’s neighbor.
a.) One thing is more important than anything else, worshiping Jesus.
Luke 10:41 and 42, “‘You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better.”
b.) Obedience to the command to love one’s neighbor as oneself involves radical, sacrificial care that knows no boundaries of race, gender or class.
Luke 10:36,37, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the one who fell in the hands of the robbers?’ the expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.'”
c.) We see the early church’s love for God and love for their neighbor throughout the book of Acts.
Acts 2:42ff, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe…All the believers were together and had everything in common.”
d.) The early believers were deeply concerned about each other’s good.
Acts 4:32, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.”
e.) Early believers were known for their sacrificial concern for others.
Acts 9:36, “In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha…who was always doing good and helping the poor.”