Do you remember "This is the song that never ends; it just goes on and on my friends. Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was; and they'll continue singing it forever just because it is the song that never ends...." (If you remember ... you are old ... and now it is stuck in your head.) It relates to what I want to talk about.
I am amazed (in a sad way) at the low state of Bible knowledge in America today. The Bible is, continually, one of the top-selling books each year. Yet researchers George Gallup & Jim Castelli report: “Americans revere the Bible—but, by and large, they don’t read it. And because they don’t read it, we have become a nation of biblical illiterates.”For example, surveys report that 82% of Americans think that “God helps those who help themselves” is in the Bible. It isn’t. Neither is “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” (Sorry, moms.) Only a small minority in the church could list the Ten Commandments. (Think you could? Try writing them down and then checking how you did in Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5.)
I want to talk about something that might make you think I don’t know much about the Bible. Why? Because I want to talk to you about Acts 29. Although some of you may be thinking, “Ok, what in Acts 29 do you want to talk about,” others know there is no Acts 29; Acts ends with chapter 28. You would be right, of course … but let me make my case. Some people, quite pragmatically, say that Acts can be broken into two parts; “Part 1” (chapters 1 – 12) describing the growth of the early church under the influence of Peter and the other 11 of the apostles of Jesus; “Part 2” (chapters 13 – 28) describing the expansion of the church under the influence of Paul. (That is not a bad way to remember it.)
Let me point out something of interest about “Part 2.”Chapter 13 describes the commissioning of Paul to the work of spreading the gospel. From that chapter to the end of Acts, we follow Paul on 3 missionary journeys, a visit to Jerusalem which results in his arrest, and his being taken to Rome(as a prisoner) to stand trial. Acts 28:30-31concludes the book this way— “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.”Some people think the end of the book must have gotten lost because it doesn’t tell us what happened to Paul after that. Was he released (as some think, and able to make one more mission trip to Spain); how and when did he die? That brings me to my reason for writing.
I believe that the Book of Acts was left unfinished because it is to continue being written. No, I don’t mean that we should expect and accept more chapters to be added to the Bible.God’s inspired writing was finished in the first century … contrary to what some other religious groups say. What I mean is that the work the Holy Spirit began through the ministry of the apostles and the church in the first century is still to be going on in through the ministry of Christians and churches today. In other words, we should be writing Acts 29 and Acts 30 and Acts 31 and so on. It is the story that never ends! The gospel is still to be spread and churches planted. Think about it—you and I can be adding to the story as we share the gospel with our families, our friends, to the people we work with and go to school with, and to people around the world.
So let me issue a challenge—get out there and share the good news that Jesus saves. Acts 2:47 says that “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” God still wants to. Do we?
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984.