Sean makes an important point—we cannot expect “results” just because we apply certain principles.
I’ve been in the book of Acts for at least a year now. Here’s the heart of what I’m learning—mission is not about us. It’s about the continuing ministry of the Risen Lord.
Luke is the only Gospel writer who also wrote an account of the spread of the gospel through Jesus’ first followers. Luke’s Gospel prepares the way for the book of Acts. They are two parts of the one story and Jesus is the central figure in both.
Jesus’ ministry did not end with his death, resurrection and ascension. He did not hand his ministry over to his followers and leave them to continue on alone. Jesus is alive and continues to minister through the disciples after his death and resurrection.
What Yahweh was to Israel in the Old Testament, Jesus is to the church in the book of Acts. The Risen Lord is on center stage as Luke tells the story of early Christian mission.
Jesus is alive and leads his followers as the gospel spreads from Jerusalem to the ends of the world. He commands them to go. He sends his Spirit to empower them for witness (Acts 1:8; 2:33). He inspires their preaching (7:55-56). He brings people to faith. New disciples are baptised in his name.
He calls and commissions his witnesses (9:5-6; 22:14-21). His disciples operate by his power, and not their own authority (3:6). He leads them into new missionary challenges (10:13-15; 11:20-21, 24). He confirms their preaching with miracles performed in his name (9:34; 14:3). When they are persecuted, he comes to them and encourages and protects them (18:9-10; 23:11; cf. 22:17-21).
His followers, empowered by the Spirit proclaim his word, and the result is an expanding movement of new disciples and churches.
So what’s our role? We live and minister as though Jesus is alive, and despite the obstacles, we expect his word to grow, and spread, and multiply all over the world, and as it does, new disciples are made and new churches are formed.