Friends: I preached this message at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel as the New Year (2018) unfolded. Let me know if you find it useful.
Tag Archives: practices
As we complete this brief look at our story, the story of the early Christian church, there are many topics that could be discussed. But one that intrigues me is the question: What is prescriptive in the Book of Acts and what is merely descriptive of those first believers? What practices ought we to emulate today? Which activities and events were foundational to the founding of the church and are simply described for us?
This is no small task — but it is the same question for any of the books of the Bible. Should we men expect God to supernaturally bring us our brides as He did with Isaac (in Gen. 24)? Should we learn to use a sling and look for unusually tall Philistines to slay (as David did in I Sam. 17)? For Christian men who are bald and are teased about their hair loss, should they folllow the lead of Elisha and call down a curse of mauling bears on such juvenile mockers (2 Ki. 2)?
More to the point, what practices in the Book of Acts ought to mark today’s church? Should we see wholesale miracles like people being healed by merely touching our handkerchiefs and aprons, as happened with Paul (Acts 19)? Should new converts speak in tongues (as they did in Acts 2, 10, and 19)? Should spiritual men “appoint” elders in local churches (as Paul and Barnabas did in Acts 14)?
I do not pretend to have finally found the answer to this critical question regarding descriptive versus prescriptive. Here are some internet articles you might want to check out (then I’ll give you a few of my thoughts):
“10 Reasons Why Acts Is Normative” by Adrian Warnock.
“Ending the Descriptive-Prescriptive Battle Once and For All” by Cerulean Sanctum.
My thoughts: This is a question that applies to all the books of the Bible, not just to Acts. The principles we see in Acts are transcultural. The practices perhaps not so. The major truths in Acts are repeated in other Scriptures (such as the need for qualified leaders in the local church). The Apostolic period was unique and should be treated as such. Do we need miracles today to authenticate the gospel message? Perhaps in some parts of the world that do not yet have God’s Word. Your thoughts?
By the way, here are my notes I took in reading through Acts: