In the previous letter that I wrote to you Theophilus, I told you of the things that Jesus taught and did up until the time that He was taken up into heaven. After He was in heaven He continued to teach and do marvelous miracles, only now through the men He had chosen to be His Apostles. He showed the apostles that He was still alive after His crufixion by many infallible proofs by appearing to them on many occasions over a forty-day period, as He talked to them about the Kingdom of God. He told them that they should wait in Jerusalem until they received the promise of the Father, that He had been telling them about, for though John baptized with water for repentance from sin, they were going to baptized in the Holy Spirit in just a few days, and they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them to be His witnesses both in Jerusalem, and all Judea and in Samaria and throughout the whole world. As they were listening intently to His words He began to ascend into heaven until He disappeared
from their sight into a cloud. As they were staring toward heaven, two men in white clothing asked, "You men from Galilee, why do you stand there staring into heaven? This same Jesus is coming again, just has you have seen Him go into heaven." They then went to Jerusalem and began to pray and wait for the promise of the Lord to baptize them with the Holy Spirit.
I Believe in You
When the Holy Spirit came upon them, a great crowd had gathered wondering what this was all about. They were amazed because they heard these Galilaeans speaking in various dialects the wonderful works of God. Peter stood up to address the wondering crowd and explained that what they were seeing and hearing was a fulfillment of God's promise through the prophet Joel, that He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh. He told them that they were guilty of killing Jesus who was God's promised Messiah, but God had raised Him from the dead. Convicted of their sin, they asked what they should do, and Peter said, "Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus." About three thousand believed and were baptized.
Once these people were baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to daily fellowship and study the Scriptures, they would break bread together and pray, and the Lord was adding daily to their number those who should be saved. Through the apostles, the Lord now began to perform many miracles.
In the Name
The people were amazed when they saw the lame man walking, but Peter explained to them that this miracle was accomplished through the name of Jesus and faith in His name. He told them that after they had killed Jesus, God raised Him from the dead. Peter called on them to repent and be converted. 5000 responded to the invitation by Peter to receive Jesus as their Lord. The religious leaders were very upset and ordered Peter and John and the lame man to be arrested and brought before the religions tribunal. They did not believe in the resurrection of the dead and were very indignant that they were proving to the people through the resurrection of Jesus that the dead will rise. During the trial they were asked how they performed the miracle of causing the lame man to walk. Peter testified in his own defense that though they as the religious leaders of the people had rejected Jesus as their Messiah and put Him to death, God had raised Him from the dead and that there was no salvation except through Him
for there was no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved. As the leaders saw the lame man standing there with them, they could not deny the miracle, but instead gave them strict commandment not to speak any more to the people about Jesus. Peter answered that they had to speak of the things that they had seen and heard. They were then threatened with severe punishment if they broke the orders given by them and they released them. They, however, continued to teach the people about Jesus and were put in prison again. Finally, one of the disciples named Stephen was arrested and brought to trail. The testimony he gave was so powerful, they became enraged and stoned him to death.
As they were stoning Stephen they laid their coats at the feet of a young man who was known as Saul of Tarsus. He was a brilliant man but filled with rage against those who believed that Jesus was the Messiah which he felt was heresy and He was determined to wipe them out. With orders from the High priest he began to imprison those who believed in Jesus forcing them to deny their faith. With authority from the High Priest, he was on his way to Damascus to arrest those in that city who believed on Jesus Christ, but just before arriving at Damascus he had his own personal encounter with the risen Lord.
Blinded by the Light
At the first even the Jewish believers felt that this gift of salvation was for the Jews only, but when Peter was visiting the church in Joppa, he received a vision that would change the course of the history of the church forever. God showed him that he should not consider unclean, those whom God had cleansed, he was to go with the men who at that very moment were inquiring for him at the gate of the house, and that he was not to question what God was about to do. He was taken by these men to Caesarea to the house of Cornelius who was a Roman centurion. As Peter was preaching to the assembled group of Gentiles in the house of Cornelius, suddenly the Holy Spirit came upon them causing Peter to realize that the gospel was also for the Gentiles.
A short time later, God called Paul and Barnabas as the first missionaries to take the gospel to other nations, and thus began the movement to bring the gospel to the whole world.
You're so Special
Paul's spreading of the gospel would in time bring him to Athens, Greece where he was invited to speak to the philosophers on Mars Hill. As he spoke to them of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, some scoffed at the thought of a person rising from the dead, while others believed. On the Hill Later Paul's journeys brought him to Ephesus, that great port city, and one of the trade centers of the ancient world. It was also the center of the worship of the pagan goddess Diana. There he spent three years establishing a strong group of believers who began to have a great influence on that whole area. Paul had taught them that the true God is not made by man's hands nor can He be represented by images. Multitudes began to forsake the worship of Diana, and were no longer buying the little silver shrines and likenesses of this pagan deity. One of the silversmiths who made a good living making images of Diana, called together his fellow craftsmen and stirred up a riot against Paul, because his
livelihood was being threatened by the preaching of Paul.
No More Idols
Paul had a strong desire to bring unity to the church between the Jewish and Gentile believers, so he gathered an offering from the Gentile churches to help the poor brothers in Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit had warned him that he would be imprisoned at Jerusalem, which caused his friends to urge him not to go, but Paul did not fear imprisonment or even being put to death for Jesus Christ, so he continued on. Indeed as promised, he was imprisoned and after repeated trials he used his privilege as a Roman citizen and appealed to Caesar. The boat trip to Rome was not to be an easy or comfortable one. A great storm came up that threatened the survival of all those on board the ship.
After God's divine intervention and saving him and all the crew from the storm, he finally arrived in Rome where he spent two years in prison awaiting his appearance before Caesar, there Paul continued to witness making many converts, some of whom were of Nero's household. He also used this time to write many of his epistles.