Recently I preached what was essentially a topical series. I wanted to look at a set of basic theological issues, but wanted to root the messages in a biblical text. I ended up using Paul’s journeys in Acts. There are some real advantages to working with that section of the Bible and it reminded me again of some real benefits to preaching from Acts:
1. You are preaching exciting narrative. The journeys were not dull! Whether it is people being saved, or preachers being beaten, it makes for exciting preaching content if you can tell a story engagingly.
2. You are preaching obviously relevant narrative. Spreading the gospel into pagan Europe is probably more relevant to most of us than fighting local armies or dealing with excessively tall enemies (although preaching OT narrative is awesome in other ways, of course).
3. The focus of the narrative is gospel proclamation. This means that the excitement and advance in the action is actual preaching, or at least, summaries of preaching. As you compare Paul’s preaching in Lystra and Athens, you can see patterns in how he addressed the biblically illiterate. As you compare Pisidian Antioch to the Ephesian elders at Miletus, you can see the difference between gospel presentation to a Jewish audience and a gospel application to Christians.
4. Patterns emerge in a book like Acts. For instance, how striking to see the gospel stir response followed by antagonistic reaction. Do a word study of repent and turn in Acts and you will be struck by how the terms are so consistently used (11x & 8x respectively) as a relational move, rather than a behavioural one. Notice God’s deliberate paralleling of blessing to Jewish converts and to Gentile converts.
5. Other Scripture is supportive and significant. The informing theology in Acts is stirring as you can trace the quotes, the allusions, the background themes, etc. As a preacher this opens up windows of opportunity!
So much more could be said, but I’ll leave it there. If you haven’t preached from Acts for a while, maybe it is time to return?