Acts 1:1-3 (NLT)… “In my first book, I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 3 During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.”
Acts 1:1-3 opens up the book of Acts, a letter that communicates the accounts of all the apostles did through the Holy Spirit. These three verses set the tone and the precidence for everything that is to follow! By first glance, you may think that this is just a greeting to someone or just an ice breaker for everything that's about to follow. May I suggest that there's so much more being communicated through this greeting--that there are powerful spiritual Truths from the first letter? Let's take a look!
The very first Truth that Luke communicates, right out of the gate, is that ministering the gospel must be a personal responsibility to each and every one of us! By the phraseology, "I told you...", we see that Luke had taken the initiative and responsibility to share Jesus with his friend, Theophilus. He didn't wait for someone else to step up to the plate, and he didn't ask someone else to come do "the hardwork", but he jumped in and gave everything he could to present the truth the Jesus Christ to someone who needed Him!
Who was Luke? Was he a teacher or a preacher or apostle or prophet? No! Luke was just a doctor. Not uneducated by any means, but certainly not an "ordained" or "annointed" minister by the church's perspective. He was a layman and, honestly, he was the least likely, or least expected, to make a powerful influence on the Kingdom of God because he was a GENTILE! Out of the entirety of the New Testament, Luke is the only gentile to have his writing canonized into the Word of God. Limitations didn't hold him back, as they shouldn't hold us back, from being responsible to reach at least one person for Christ!
Luke saw a need and understood his call to action, but more importanly, he understood the value of what he was sharing! Preceeding his statement of responsibility and ownership of ministry, Luke opens the letter with an interesting statement: "In my first book". The suggestions of this statement may seem obvious or be taken for granted, but it worth addressing, nonetheless. In the midst of his fervor to reach his friend for Christ, Luke wrote a book that we know now as the Gospel of Luke. This gospel communicated the ever-expansive value of Jesus by giving report and tracking 10 HISTORICAL FACTS of who He was and what He did: the virgin birth of Christ, His sinless life and marvelous teachings, His mighty miracles along with His betrayal, arrest, illegal trial and condemnation; as well as the crucifixion and death of Christ, His burial, resurrection, post-resurrection appearances, and His ascension to heaven. His entire gospel was backboned by these Truths because He understood their value! How sad it is that so many homes have hid away, or set up a shrine for a dusty book, while forgetting the value of what's INSIDE it!
"I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven..."
I would challenge you, though, not to think you can reach someone for Christ without also getting personally involved in their life. It requires intentional interaction--a plan and a purpose--within the relationship. Luke conveys to us that this true of him, as well, when he writes "I told you...everything...". This is an accomplishment that cannot take place without intent and purpose, or personal involvement! Luke took advantage of this relationship and opportunity, to purposely write down everything Jesus said and did, in a form that Theophilus could understand. This kind of intentional ministry reminds me of a story I once heard shared by a fellow pastor:
This pastor was challenged by God to share the gospel with the world and not just his congregation. Through this challenge, opportunity arose for him to travel to a small village and share the gospel with them. Upon arrival, he came into the tent with their local governor and was immediately welcomed. The translator told him the governor said he has been praying that someone would come and share with him the name of the God of the universe! The pastor began ministering to the governor about Jesus, from the beginning to the end, and the governor came to a relationship with Christ, excitedly dragging the man of God with him to share about Jesus to his cousin---the village medicine doctor! To put it mildly, he wasn’t as excited to hear this story but after 3 weeks of ministering, the medicine doctor also came to have faith in Jesus! Then one day, at the dinner table, the governor spoke up and asked, “Pastor, I must know now. What about my parents?” to which the minister enthusiastically said, “Bring them here and we’ll tell them too!” The governor's response was sobering, though, revealing that they were already dead. In that moment, this pastor said that he’d never prayed harder or faster as he replied, “I’m sorry, but there is no other way to be saved but through the name of Jesus.” The governor sat there quietly with his jaw clenched and said, “How long have you known?” “My whole life. About 45 years.” Hoping this good news was new news, the governor continued, “So how long has the story been around? 20 -30 years longer than you?” The pastor again answered, “It’s been around 2000 years.” Through tear-filled eyes, the governor looked at the pastor and said, “Then what took you so long???”
That pastor could have tried to place the blame elsewhere. He could have blamed it on Christians from yesteryear who didn't share the gospel; he could have blamed it on believers who live closer and didn't make the trip. We are often too quick to make excuses as to why we can't share the gospel with someone: they are too far away, I don't know who they are, there's someone else closer or more qualified. But the reality is that every excuse leads us to this one powerful truth: we’ve not made it our personal responsibility and, therefore, we’ve not been intentional to get personal! Don't let the next person you meet leave your presence without knowing everything Jesus said or did.
Lastly, I want to encourage you with this: Luke made it his personal responsibility to reach Theophilus and he became personally and purposefully involved in Theophilus' life, but he never truly saw the impact of his ministry--it was so much greater than he ever imagined and the same will be true for you and I! When Luke addressed Theophilus in Luke 1:3, he called him "MOST HONORABLE Theophilus", but when Luke addresses him in Acts, he calls him by name alone. This loss of title suggests that Luke accomplished his purpose through his first book--Theophilus became a brother in Christ! Allow me to propose a thought to you. Luke did NOT write his gospel or the account of Acts for the entire world. He did not write them for the purpose of being canonized as scripture. His purpose was distinct and much more personal: it was simply to bring a friend into eternal relationship with his Messiah!
You may invest the fullness of your life into the life of an unbeliever and never see how God blesses that investment. Perhaps it may feel like you wasted time and energy, but be encouraged that the Word of God never returns void. God will water that seed and bring fruit from your investment. Luke thought the complete impact of his letters was seen when Theophilus accepted Christ, but somehow those personal letters became know as scripture! Consider, for a moment, that when Theophilus read and felt the Holy Spirit, through Luke's testimony, that he then shared the letter with someone else who then shared it with someone else. Perhaps the annointing of someone who was personally committed and personally involved changed a world, and God honored Luke's faithfulness by doing was what least expected: He used a gentile layman to minister the gospel of Jesus to a lost world!
Your Theophilus is waiting! He is waiting for your letter, your conversation, your testimony! Theophilus is waiting to see and hear the gospel of Jesus through your life. Make it your responsibility to reach him. Make it your responsibility to get personally and purposefully involved with him. Make it your responsibility to make sure he knows EVERYTHING about Jesus! And maybe, just maybe, God will and honor and anoint your faithfulness, and your Theophilus will share your testimony with his Theophilus! What an incredible surprise it will be when we get to heaven and expect to see Theophilus, but instead we find hundreds, thousands, or millions of Theophilus' whose lives were changed because you decided to make it personal!
THEOPHILUS IS WAITING!