THE NORMAL REVIVAL
The expanding work of the Spirit of Jesus through the acts of the Apostles
In the first chapter of Acts we find a question on the forefront of Jesus’ followers minds that lays a framework for the entire narrative and our Autumn series- their question is about restoration. They want to know if Jesus will be bringing restoration back to Israel through His Spirit (1.5-6). This question of restoration is a basic question we ask and long to be answered both in the core of our human existence and in our communities and world at large. As we discover in the next verses and throughout the entire narrative Jesus has a vision of restoration for something much greater than just Israel (1.8)- His vision is that His restoration would arrive to the peoples of the earth.
In fact we find this reality echoed through Scripture- that God has a vision for the earth- that the knowledge of His glory would expand to every seen and unseen place. In Acts we find Jesus fulfilling the covenant promise that was first made to Abraham (Gen. 12.1-3), reiterated through the Psalms and prophets of old and spoken of by Jesus himself (Matthew 28.18-20). Restoration is one aspect of God’s glory filling the earth.
In Jesus’ expanding restoration movement we discover what was broken through our first parents garden rebellion is now being put back together. This vision of restoration was modeled by Jesus in his ministry through the gospels, accomplished through his atoning sacrifice on the cross and validated through the resurrection. And this is the narrative of Acts- the geographical progression of Christ’s spontaneous and expanding restoration movement filling the earth through the earliest activity of his people.
The narrative follows the accounts of foreign dignitaries, kings and peasants alike. It is both individual and collective, institutional and grassroots, the movement of Jesus reaches all kinds of people in all kinds of places- across tribe, tongue and geography. From individuals receiving healing, to families discovering and identifying with Jesus for the first time, from business leaders being impacted to local communities of faith being established. It is a restoration that spans both locally and globally and to the religious and the irreligious.
The movement had begun and now it is expanding- God’s glory is filling the earth and the narrative is continuing with us. Broken things are being put back together, what was fractured is being healed. This happens in our individual lives as Jesus’ followers but we also see signs and hints of this happening collectively through the community of Jesus (His Church) as she becomes an instrument to foster restoration in the world. While we certainly don’t and won’t see this kind of restoration everywhere here and now, we know this progressive expansion and extension of God’s grace is a foretaste, a sign of what one day we will experience when Jesus makes all things new.
And therefore Luke’s second volume work is the breath taking story of Jesus carrying out his restoration through the most ordinary of people. It is a normal revival and establishes a basic standard for how Jesus’ followers are to live in a world that God is filling with His glory. Ultimately we discover that restoration in the world happens not through our power or activity but God’s. An alternative title for the narrative of Acts might be the acts of Jesus’ Spirit through His Apostles and first followers.
I am looking forward to journeying through Acts together this Autumn!
grace + peace,