The people in the book of Acts, including Paul, were clay pots. They were ordinary people. They were reliant upon the Spirit of God to continue the mission of God. Likewise, God has given us the necessary resources—the gospel and the Spirit of God. As you read the following pages, you will see how ordinary people of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, captivated by the Son of God, are accomplishing the mission of God, to the glory of God.
The conclusion of a book or film always creates a reaction. The book of Acts is no different. It ends on a cliffhanger.
My wife, Kimberly, enjoys happy endings. When we watch a film that’s sad or unresolved, I often say something like, “I liked that ending; that was very realistic.” Kimberly usually responds with something like, “I don’t want reality; I want a happy ending.”
When the popular show Lost was nearing the last episode of the series, everyone wanted to know, “How will it end?” Many weren’t satisfied with its strange ending, while others liked it. When I was a kid, I remember how a lot of my favorite thirty-minute shows would end with the dreaded phrase, “to be continued . . .” Today, many popular shows drag the viewer along for a whole season before giving some kind of closure.
What does the reader of Acts make of its ending? Luke takes the reader on a captivating journey, but the ending is a bit frustrating at first glance.
Up to Acts 28, Luke has led us to Paul’s trial before Caesar, but nothing is said about that trial in the final verses. It’s unresolved. We’re left without answers about Paul’s life. Can you imagine reading a novel and coming to this kind of ending? One may be tempted to write the publisher thinking that the book is missing a chapter!
But “to be continued . . .” is one of the main takeaways of the book of Acts.
All that Jesus Continues to Do
We must remember that Luke didn’t intend to write a biography of Paul. He set out to describe the unstoppable progress of the gospel. His first book, the Gospel of Luke, described “all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day he was taken up” (Acts 1:1–2a). The book of Acts, then, is about all that Jesus continues to do now that he has been taken up. That is, the story of Acts is about how the ministry of Jesus continued and is continuing, by the Spirit, through the church.
King Jesus is the hero of Acts, not Paul nor anyone else. Luke concludes Acts on a note of victory, with the king’s triumph, as Paul exalts him in the mighty city of Rome. And this exaltation of Christ continues today.
So, Luke’s message ends up being something like this: “This book is finished, but the mission isn’t.” Christians in every generation get to enter the story! My church and your church, and countless others are part of this ongoing, Christ-exalting mission. God replaces the messengers, but the message and the mission go on until the king returns.
Acts 29 churches recognize that we have the distinct privilege of continuing this mission. In the following pages, you will read of how God’s people are doing this around the globe. They are continuing this biblical, global, and Spirit-empowered mission.