Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
09 August 2015
Beyond the Gospels: the Book of Acts, or Luke part 2
We started discussing Acts in Gospel Doctrine today, and after starting with the introduction of Luke (both to Theophilus, "lover of God" -- Theo meaning God, and Philo meaning a type of love) I realized that Luke is a great compiler, correlator, and recorder of witnesses.
His major testimony seems to focus on those who have already heard the gospel and likely accepted it, so his teachings of the mission of Christ focus more as a church handbook, mentioning frequently the principle of mercy, many teachings regarding the Shepherd and correctly watching over the flock, and church leadership.
Moving into Acts was a natural continuing of his record in that sense because the book of Acts is not merely an historical record or a journal or biographical scetch of their lives but a continuation of the record of the church to the church. It records the gifts, blessings, and signs that follow them that believe, and acts as a reflection of a courtroom between those who believed in Christ and those who did not.
An interesting transition happens in that the burden of proof seems to shift. Those against Jesus were needing him to die in order that the testator would no longer be able to testify. Those for Jesus needed Him to die also, in part and of great importance to do so to fulfill the atonement and provide the redeeming effort to overcome death and sin. It also needed to happen in order that the blood of the testator could seal the testimony that had been given.
[for more information on the role of a testator compared to the role of a martyr, see an interesting article by Taylor Halverson: http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/to-seal-the-testimony-dc-135/
One of my favorite parts includes the following:
In this regard, those against Jesus were concerned because the works that they hoped would only be contained in the person of Jesus (His miracles, healings, teachings, and power) but after His death, the works of God continued in greater power. Peter would testify strongly that All could now call on the name of the Lord and partake of the atonement without the intercession of the high priest.
Previous to this, the name of Jehovah would only be uttered in the temple once a year but here was Peter proclaiming that all can call on the name of Jesus (a lengthier discussion of this is in the Mormon Interpreter Gospel Doctrine Roundtable of the first block in Acts-I believe number 125-6). This was not to take the place of ordinances because in the same chapter (Acts 2) he proclaimed that all who felt the "pricking in the heart" of the Holy Ghost would need to repent and be baptized and then receive the fulness of the Gift of Holy Ghost as they had just received during Pentecoast.
The end of chapter 2 mentions the blessings and responsibilities of those who join the church:
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
They continued to listen to the Doctrine of Christ taught by the Apostles and the revelations set forth by them to lead the church. They would also fellowship, pray, break bread (partake of the sacrament), they would hold fear (reverence and respect) for the Holy things of God, and see and receive many signs and wonders by the apostles (t). They would hold the concept of unity, striving for a "Zion" mentality wherein there would be no poor among them (that's a whole discussion in itself but for a good conversation on it, see Steven C Harper:
The saints (members of the church) would give of their time visiting the homes of each member (serving, teaching), their talents and financial means as available, and they would call upon God and praise Him individually and as a church, and thus the church grew.
Lots more in the following chapters, but a great start to the remainder of the Bible beyond the gospels.
What are your favorite parts of the Book of Acts?