Life in the Spirit: Transformation (Part 2)

December 19, 2019

Disciples of Jesus, like their Messiah, have been anointed with the Holy Spirit. Disciples of Jesus walk by the Spirit, live by the Spirit, and are led by the Spirit. The Spirit is the air we breathe and the one who empowers us. Ours is a life in the Spirit.

But what do we mean when we say that disciples of Jesus live in the Spirit? The Theodrama emphasizes three dimensions of this life in the Spirit: (1) communion, (2) transformation, and (3) giftedness.

First, as previously discussed, the Spirit is the one by whom we commune with the Triune God. Second, the Spirit is the one by whom God transforms us into the image of Christ. Now, lastly, we turn our attention to the gifts the Holy Spirit distributes within the body of Christ.

The Spirit distributes the gifts of God. These gifts range from gifts of mercy, teaching, leadership, generosity (Romans 12:3-8) to wisdom, knowledge, healings, miracles, prophesy, and tongues (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). These lists are exhaustive but illustrative of God’s work within the community of faith for the sake of the body and the world. The same Spirit disperses a diversity of gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11).

The Holy Spirit empowers our ministry as the Spirit gifts each of us for service in our faith communities as well as in the world. The Spirit equips for the “common good”—for communities of faith, for human society, and for creation. We seek these gifts through prayer, discipleship, and mentoring relationships.

God gives the Spirit as a communing and transforming presence. God created us for communion and redeems us to transform us. And God goes one step further. God gifts us so that we might participate in God’s mission.

“Through the Spirit,” Paul wrote, God gives the body of Christ the capacity to serve each other and the world. These “manifestations of the Spirit” are for the “common good,” and the gifts are “activated” and distributed by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 12:7-8, 11).

It is important, however, to note that presence comes first, then transformation, and finally giftedness. We might think of this as a spiral of activity where there is reciprocity but also movement toward a goal. God dwells in order to commune. That communion transforms us, and, as people in the process of transformation, God gifts us so that we might participate in the mission of God. The gifts are best used by transformed people. This is why 1 Corinthians 13 comes between 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. Giftedness without love is useless; more than useless, it is detrimental. Transformation must shape the use of the Spirit’s gifts.

The gifts of the Spirit refer whatever capacity we have to participate in the mission of God. Whatever talent we use to further the mission of God–whether it is software development, musical ability, environmental passion—they are the gifts of God. Too often we talk about talents as if they are natural dispositions independent of God’s work among us. One of the reasons we feel so distant from the Holy Spirit is because we secularize our gifts. we minimize the Spirit’s role. Giftedness, inclusive of talents, is a manifestation of the Spirit!

We see the Spirit when transformed people (or, better, people in the process of transformation) use their gifts to further the mission of God, which is the transformation of the whole world. We see the Spirit when an environmental biologist cares for the creation, when a nurse compassionately cares for the sick, when a debt mediator reconciles a creditor and a debtor, and when an actor embodies the gospel in a drama (even if the drama never mentions God at all). We “see” the Spirit’s gifts in action when brokenness is healed.

The Spirit gifts us, not for our own glory, but for the glory of God as the mission of God is furthered in the world.


Life in the Spirit – Transformation (Part 1)

December 16, 2019

Disciples of Jesus, like their Messiah, have been anointed with the Holy Spirit. Disciples of Jesus walk by the Spirit, live by the Spirit, and are led by the Spirit. The Spirit is the air we breathe and is the one who empowers us. Ours is a life in the Spirit.

But what do we mean when we say that disciples of Jesus live in the Spirit? The Theodrama emphasizes three dimensions of this life in the Spirit: (1) communion, (2) transformation, and (3) giftedness.

First, as noted in the previous presentation, the Spirit is the one by whom we commune with the Triune God. Now, second, we turn our attention to the work of the Spirit in transformation.

The Holy Spirit is the power by whom we are transformed into the image of Christ. The Spirit indwells us to empower, strengthen, and sanctify us. The Spirit bears the fruit of love, peace and joy in our lives, comforts us in our inner person, empowers forgiveness and release from resentment, and enables our transformation.

The Spirit mediates our communion with the Triune God, and this communion is transformative. The Spirit is no passive presence. On the contrary, the Spirit is an active, enabling, and sanctifying presence. The Spirit dwells within us so that we might live in the Spirit.

Salvation involves transformation. Because we are children of God, God sends the Holy Spirit into our hearts and we experience the intimacy of divine communion. But this is not the end game; it is not God’s goal. This intimacy includes a shared life, and it transforms us. We are increasingly, by the Spirit, transformed (or, metamorphized!) into the image of Christ from “one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The Holy Spirit is the presence of God within us, and this holy presence bears fruit. Paul called it the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). This is what it means to “live by the Spirit,” that is, to manifest a life of love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The Spirit leads us into a such a life by renewing our hearts, empowering our souls, and moving our wills.

The presence of the Spirit is a necessary first step for such a life, and without that presence there is no transformation that images Jesus who himself was led and empowered by the Spirit. The reality of this presence is evidenced in a holy life as we are “sanctified by the Spirit” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

We see the Spirit when we are patient with the stubborn, when we are kind to the ungrateful, when we are at peace in the midst of the storm, when we are generous with the poor, and when we are gentle with those who disagree. We must not secularize these moments as if they are personal self-actualizations. Rather, we give thanks that the Spirit is at work in our lives to empower them. We credit the Spirit rather than our programs, our will power, or our own goodness. God, by the Spirit, forms us into the image of Christ, and that is the glory and goal God has in store for us.


Life in the Spirit – Communion With God

December 12, 2019

Disciples of Jesus, like their Messiah, have been anointed with the Holy Spirit. Disciples of Jesus walk by the Spirit, live by the Spirit, and are led by the Spirit. The Spirit is the air we breathe and the Spirit is the one who empowers us. Ours is a life in the Spirit.

But what do we mean when we say that disciples of Jesus live in the Spirit? What does that look like, and how do we embody that in our lives and ministries?

For purposes of brevity, we may say that the Theodrama emphasizes three dimensions of this life in the Spirit: (1) communion, (2) transformation, and (3) giftedness. We will address communion now and the other two in further presentations.

The Spirit is the one by whom we commune with the Triune God. God dwells among us through the Spirit. Just as God was personally present in Israel through the temple and in the incarnation through Jesus, so God is personally present in the Jesus community through the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are the temple of God. The Spirit of God dwells among us and in us as a down payment of our future dwelling with the Triune God in the new heaven and the new earth.

Through the Spirit, we commune with and experience the person of God. The Spirit is the personal, existential connection between God and humanity. The personal indwelling of the Spirit is the experience of God in our hearts whereby we cry “Abba, Father.” God and Christ come to dwell us through the presence of the Spirit. The Spirit’s foundational function is to mediate communion between God and us. Our communion with God is the “communion of the Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 13:12).

The indwelling presence of the Spirit, which is the fulfillment of God’s presence in the temple in Israel and anticipates the fullness of divine presence in the new heaven and new earth, is how we now live in fellowship with God. We were washed in the Spirit (1  Corinthians 6:11). We worship in the Spirit (Philippians 3:3). We pray in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18). We are “in the Spirit because the Spirit of God dwells” in us (Romans 8:9). The Spirit is the air we breathe, and our every breath is communion with God.

This communion, of course, is not merely vertical. It is also horizontal, that is, we commune with each other by what we share in the Spirit (Philippians 2:1). We love each other in the Spirit (Colossians 1:8). Because we have all been baptized in the Spirit and have drunk of the same Spirit, we are one body, and ethnic, economic, and gender barriers are transcended in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13;  Galatians 3:28).

We see the Spirit among us when we enjoy the sweet fellowship of others, experience the peace and joy of the Spirit in communion with God, and encounter God in the assembly of God’s people as we worship in the Spirit. We must not secularize these moments as if they are produced by our own internal powers. Rather, we relish them and delight in them because we know, by God’s promise, that the Spirit is present to generate them. They are moments where heaven and earth meet in the Spirit.


Missional Mandate: Shepherding the Creation

December 9, 2019

In the beginning of the Theodrama, God created humanity as God’s image to partner with God in the filling, co-creating, and shepherding of the creation.  When God chose Israel as the firstborn among the nations, God invested this same identity and vocation in them as they were tasked with filling the land God had given them, creating a just and compassionate society as a light to the nations, and caring for the land God had given them. Now, God has renewed Israel through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and called this new Jesus’ community to fill the earth with the glory of God, create just and compassionate communities as lights among the nations, and care for the earth. 

The first vocation is to fill the earth, and disciples of Jesus fill the earth by making disciples.

The second vocation is to subdue the earth by creating order out of chaos, and disciples of Jesus embrace this vocation by subverting and opposing the principalities and powers that presently seek to rule the creation.

The third vocation is, according to Genesis 1:28, is to rule or shepherd the creation, which God loves and will one day liberate from its bondage to decay.

When I described the human vocation earlier in the Theodrama, I noted that ruling the earth was not a function of cruel tyranny but of compassionate shepherding. We rule the earth like shepherds who care for flocks. This is our human vocation, and it is also the vocation of disciples of Jesus because they serve the Lord of creation, Jesus the Messiah.

Our task as human beings has not changed; we are still blessed by God to shepherd the creation. And renewed Israel, the kingdom of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, takes up this task in the midst of environmental chaos and destruction. 

When the Word of God became flesh, God affirmed the goodness of creation. God became part of the creation through the virgin birth. As Jesus ministered within Israel, he healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, and raised the dead, and, in this way, Jesus affirmed God’s intent to heal the creation itself. When Jesus died, God raised him from the dead and gave him an immortal material body as the firstborn of the new creation, the new heaven and new earth.

Enthroned alongside God, Jesus—along with the one seated on the throne—received the praise of “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them” (Revelation 5:13). All creation praises God and Jesus, and this creation exists by their will.

And our vocation, as disciples of Jesus, is to partner with God in caring for the creation. We protect the air and water of the earth, preserve space for the animals, and care rather than destroy the environment.

We reign with Christ over the cosmos. We are co-rulers, and our rule is a benevolent one rather than a destructive one. In fact, when God finally redeems the creation and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of God’s Messiah, God will, as Revelation 11:18 says, destroy “those who destroy the earth.”

As co-regents with Jesus the Messiah, we share responsibility for the earth. It is both our human and kingdom vocation. As a result, let us act responsibly towards the environment, and, at the very least, plant a tree, a garden, or care for the animals.


Missional Mandate – Subduing the Powers

December 5, 2019

In the beginning of the Theodrama, God created humanity as God’s image to partner with God in the filling, co-creating, and shepherding of the creation.  When God chose Israel as the firstborn among the nations, God invested this same identity and vocation in them as they were tasked with filling the land God had given them, creating a just and compassionate society as a  light to the nations, and caring for the land God had given them. Now, God has renewed Israel through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and called this new Jesus community to fill the earth with the glory of God, create just and compassionate communities as lights among the nations, and care for the earth. 

The first vocation is to fill the earth, and disciples of Jesus fill the earth by making disciples.

The second vocation is, according to Genesis 1:28, to subdue the earth. But how do disciples of Jesus subdue the earth? In Genesis this means to subdue the remaining chaos within the creation and to co-create with God in a way that brings order to the chaos that remains. We told that story earlier in this series. Here is one example. Software developers bring order to chaotic data so that human beings have a greater opportunity to fully flourish as images of God. My Turbo-Tax software program certainly helps me flourish during tax season as it removes anxiety, orders my financial chaos, and decreases my time investment.

But how does this vocation, to subdue the earth, show up within the kingdom of Jesus? How do disciples of Jesus “subdue the earth?” Just as the kingdom vocation of filling the earth was more than populating it but rather forming disciples in the image of Jesus, so here subduing the earth is more than creating order out of chaos in terms of the natural world but confronting, subverting, and redeeming the chaotic disorder that presently rules the world. 

Jesus called Satan the “prince” of this world, a ruler who wields the principalities and powers that oppose the kingdom of our Lord Jesus. These principalities and powers come in many forms, including empires who oppress others, indwelling sin that enslaves us like an overwhelming addiction, and spiritual forces that array themselves against the Lord Jesus. The church, just as Jesus did in his ministry, confronts these powers, speaks truth to these powers, and subverts the powers by its obedience to the kingdom of God.

The book of Acts records this vocation. When Peter and John were brought before the ruling Jewish council, they spoke truth to that power and declared they would obey God rather than any human authority. When Paul encountered evil spirits in Ephesus, he released the demon oppressed from their bondage, and the disciples confessed, disclosed their practices, and burned their books of sorcery. When Paul was brought before Felix, the Roman governor, he talked about “righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come” (Acts 24:25).

Subduing the earth is the vocation with which God has tasked humanity—to bring order out of chaos, and this vocation is part of the reign of Jesus. Disciples of Jesus not only make disciples, they also confront and subvert the principalities and powers by their witness to the kingdom of God and by their obedience to King Jesus. Disciples of Jesus subvert and subdue the powers when they become like Jesus their King.


Missional Mandate: Filling the Earth

December 2, 2019

In the beginning of the Theodrama, God created humanity as God’s image upon the earth and blessed them with a vocation. God called humanity to partner with God in the filling, co-creating, and shepherding of the creation. That we are the image of God is our identity, and the task God has given us is our vocation. We are both God’s image and God’s co-worker or partner.

When God chose Israel as the firstborn among the nations, God invested this same identity and vocation in their life. Israel’s was God’s child or image, and they were tasked with filling the land God had given them, creating a just and compassionate society as a light to the nations, and caring for the land God had given them.

When God poured out the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, God renewed Israel, and this included Israel’s mission. Now, this new community would extend this human vocation through its commitment to the reign of God in the world through the Lord Jesus, Israel’s Messiah. Renewed Israel was to fill the earth with the glory of God, create just and compassionate communities as lights among the nations, and care for the earth.  While the human vocation is the vocation of renewed Israel, that vocation is also enlarged as now renewed Israel represents the reign of the Messiah and serves the goals of the Messiah for the creation.

The first task of the kingdom of God is to fill the earth. The original commission in Genesis 1 was to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” The book of Acts applies this same language to the community of Jesus as well.  For example, Acts 6 uses the same words from the Greek translation of Genesis 1. In Acts 6, “the disciples were increasing (or, multiplying) in number” as the word of God was fruitful and continued to grow and spread. Further, Acts 12:24 says, the word of God continued to advance and gain disciples. Or, to translate it another way, the church continued to grow, that is, to be fruitful, and multiply. The church experienced the blessing of God’s work so that it became fruitful and multiplied.

Just as humanity was fruitful and multiplied in the beginning, and just as Israel was fruitful and multiplied in Egypt and in Canaan, so also the church was fruitful and multiplied in Jerusalem, Judea, and to the ends of the earth. The Jesus community is a discipling movement. The disciples grew and multiplied by making disciples, by inviting others into the kingdom of God through faith in God’s Messiah. The early church followed Jesus, who himself made disciples and called his disciples to make disciples by baptizing them into the name of the Triune God and teaching them to follow Jesus in everything.

In this way, the disciples of Jesus will fill the earth with the glory of God. Just as divine imager-bears were to fill the earth with other image-bearers, so now disciples of Jesus are to fill the earth with other disciples of Jesus.

This is part of Paul’s excitement when he writes to the Colossians. He gives thanks to God that just as the gospel “is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among” them from the first day they heard the story of God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:6).

The goal of God is that Jesus himself will “fill all things” (Ephesians 4:10), and part of the process by which Jesus fills the earth is through disciples making disciples. This is our kingdom vocation.


Formation of Community – Prayer

November 28, 2019

Formed on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, this new community of Jesus followers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). Teaching, eating, and shared resources formed this new community, and prayer also formed them.

Luke is rather specific. He identifies this component as “the prayers.” Most likely, Luke is referring to the daily habit of Jewish believers to pray in the temple at specified hours. For example, we know Peter and John regularly went up to the temple “at the hour of prayer,” which was three o’clock in the afternoon (Acts 3:1). The early community worshipped in the temple daily, and they participated in those daily temple prayers. Prayer, including the singing of the Psalms, continued as part of their heritage of faith. They continued the prayer practices of their Jewish heritage.

Moreover, they embraced the prayer life of their Messiah. As the Gospel of Luke tell us, Jesus had a regular habit of prayer. He prayed at his baptism (Luke 3:21) and transfiguration (Luke 9:28). He prayed in the temple with other Jewish believers (Luke 19:46) and with his disciples (Luke 11:1-2), and he prayed alone (Luke 5:16; 6:12; 9:18). Disciples of Jesus, like their Messiah, are praying people.

This is what we see throughout the Book of Acts as renewed Israel continues to pray to God. When threatened by the ruling powers in Jerusalem, the church gathered to pray that the good news of the kingdom might have a hearing in their city (Acts 4:31). When threatened by the ruling power, the church gathered to prayer for the release of Peter from imprisonment (Acts 12:5). The disciples engaged not only in a ministry of word but also prayer (Acts 6:4). When they sent people to serve in other places in the world, they prayed over them (Acts 13:3), and when they appointed leaders in various congregations, they prayed over them as well (Acts 14:23). They prayed when in prison (Acts 16:25), they prayed for healing (Acts 28:8), and they prayed in the temple (Acts 22:17).

Prayer was personal, and it was communal. Individuals sought God in prayer, and the community prayed together. It was bold, habitual, and diverse in its circumstances and significance.

Sometimes, it seems, the church is more focused on the teaching than prayer, even the breaking of bread than prayer. But, it appears from the book of Acts, that prayer has a persistence presence that exceeds even the teaching, fellowship, and the breaking of bread. Prayer, we might say, is the glue that held the church together through its many trials, persecutions, and growth spurts. Through prayer, the church depended upon God’s work among them and for them. Through prayer, the church cast a vision for the future and trusted God with that future. We might say, the church co-created the future with God through prayer, and that is the power of prayer itself.


Formation of Community: Fellowship

November 25, 2019

Formed on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, this new community of Jesus followers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). While it is possible to understand the breaking of bread and prayers as categories under the heading of “fellowship,” the word “fellowship” also encompasses more than the breaking of bread and the prayers.

The word fellowship, though it includes those bonds that hold a community together, also refers to the material and physical dimensions of shared life together.  They broke bread together, and they prayed together, and they also shared their possessions with each other.

Luke says this early community devoted itself to fellowship and then tells us that “all who believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:44).  The word “fellowship” and “common” are from the same Greek root. This community shared their resources with each other, particularly as each had need. It does not mean they held their property in common but that their fellowship was such that they let go of their property in order to meet the needs of fellow-believers. In this sense, “no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common” (Acts 4:32).

They sold their possessions in order to distribute to the needy in their community. Just as Jesus taught his disciples, they sold their possessions and gave to the poor (Luke 12:33; 14:33) so that no one among them had any material need. In this way, renewed Israel also remained faithful  to the Torah which taught that there should be no needy among the people. This included the needs of aliens and immigrants to the land, and Israel was called to share with them as well as their own families and nation. The goal to meet all needs in the land not only included their own kin but also aliens who lived in the land with them (Deuteronomy 26:12).

While “fellowship” is often conceived in terms of spiritual bonds and relationships—and those are part of fellowship, the disciples in the early church were committed to sharing their material goods and possessions with each other as they had need so that no one went hungry or went without basic human needs.

In other words, fellowship in the early church was material, physical, and concrete. It was no mere hand shake and see you later as we each retreat to our homes, but it involved a shared life together, including shared possessions, shared meals, and shared prayers. It was authentic community with deep compassion for each other’s material needs. And, as disciples of Jesus, they were willing to sell their possessions—to divest themselves of their own security and comfort—in order to provide for those who needed what they had.

The fellowship of the early church was tangible and compassionate. This shared life—where people were willing to sell what they had so that others might have what they need—characterized their communal life, and, as a result, people were attracted to them and their community grew.



The Table of the Lord

November 21, 2019

As the newly formed community of Jesus-followers assembled daily in the temple, they prayed together and listened to the teaching of the apostles. And they also gathered in homes as small groups to break bread together.

When Luke, the author of Acts, says that the disciples of Jesus were devoted to the breaking of bread, and that they broke bread daily in their homes, what does he mean by that language?

This is why it is important to read Luke’s first volume, the Gospel of Luke. In that story, Luke describes how Jesus broke bread with five thousand as he feed the hungry who were following him (Luke 9:16), how Jesus broke bread with his disciples during the Passover (Luke 22:19), and how Jesus broke bread with two disciples at Emmaus on the day of his resurrection (Luke 24:30). In each case, the living Jesus acts as the Messiah of Israel by providing nourishment, both physical and spiritual. Jesus is the living host of these tables, both before and after his death. Particularly, in Luke 24, Jesus takes the bread, gives thanks, breaks it and gives it to the two disciples in Emmaus. In that moment, Jesus is revealed to the disciples as the resurrected Messiah, once dead but now eternally alive. Jesus is made known to the disciples in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:35).

When we read that the disciples in Acts 2 continued to break bread, we may take our cue from what Luke has already told us. Jesus, as the living, resurrected Messiah, continues to host a meal for his community. The disciples gathered daily in their homes to eat a meal together in which they gave thanks for what God had done in Jesus, and in the breaking of the bread Jesus was revealed as the living Messiah, and, consequently, disciples shared their food with joy and generosity.

In these early days of the Jesus community in Jerusalem, the disciples broke bread daily, and as the community spread across the Mediterranean basin, we learn that the disciples in Troas apparently gathered weekly in order to break bread. Like on the day of Pentecost, they broke bread on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

The confluence of breaking bread, the resurrection of a dead person, and the first day of the week in both Luke 24 and Acts 20 bears strong witness to a weekly gathering to sit at the table of the Lord where the resurrected Messiah hosts the meal as a weekly anniversary of his resurrection.

The table of the Lord, or the breaking of bread, is a meeting place.  It is where individual believers encounter the risen Christ in community with other believers.

At that table, we hear a word of grace: “This is my body which is given for you.” Or, “this is my blood which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” At that table, we hear a word of thanksgiving: “We give thanks to God for the gift of the Messiah through the Spirit.”   At that table, we hear a communal word: “We eat the same bread and drink the same cup as the one body of Christ.”

The table, the breaking of bread, is a word of grace, thanksgiving, and community. It is where renewed Israel, as disciples of Jesus, experience the mercy of God and the joy of the Holy Spirit in the presence of the Living Messiah as we hear the invitation of Jesus, “Come to the table!”


The Teaching of the Apostles

November 18, 2019

As renewed Israel gathered daily in the temple, they listened to the teaching of the apostles, and they committed themselves to that teaching.

The apostles were mentored by Jesus for three years during his earthly ministry, and during forty days after his resurrection, Jesus taught the apostles about the good news of the kingdom of God. Jesus had been preaching this gospel from the beginning, according to Luke 4, and he brought it home to the apostles during his post-resurrection appearances. Further, in light of the pouring out of the Spirit in fulfillment of Joel 2, they understood the meaning and significance of God’s reign through Jesus. Now, they were leaders of God’s renewed community.

Since this newly gathered community of God listened to the apostles’ teaching and devoted themselves to it, it is important to pause for a moment to listen to this teaching ourselves. This teaching shaped how the church lived out its life under the reign of God’s Messiah.

From the beginning of the book of Acts until its end, the primary topic of the preaching of the apostles—whether Peter or Paul—is the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of the Lord Jesus, the Messiah. This is what Jesus taught the apostles during their forty days with him at the beginning of the book of Acts (Acts 1:3), and it is what Paul taught in Rome at the end of the book of Acts (Acts 28:31).

But what does it mean to proclaim Jesus and the reign of God?  When we read the sermons in the book of Acts we see a consistent emphasis on the Theodrama.

God, the creator of heaven and earth, chose Israel as the firstborn among the nations to bless all other nations. Though Israel faltered in its faithfulness, God sent the Messiah, who is Jesus, into the world to lead Israel out of exile and invite all races into the kingdom of God to share in the Abrahamic promise. Jesus proved himself a prophet by the signs and wonders he performed and the good that he did. He called Israel back to a renewed life with God through repentance, and embodied the good news of the reign of God in his own life and ministry. And, though the ruling powers executed him, God raised him from the dead and vindicated his message and ministry. In this way, God inaugurated a new day for Israel and for the rest of humanity. God now reigns, and God, through the good news of the kingdom, calls people into a new life of faith, hope, and ministry.

The apostles, if their sermons in the Book of Acts are any indication, announced the theodrama. They told the story of God as it unfolded in Israel and came to its fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah. It is a story about God’s mercy and faithfulness, a story about the Messiah who embodied authentic life, and a story about hope in the midst of brokenness.

The apostles taught about the kingdom of God and how Jesus now reigns at the right hand of God. Like Jesus, they proclaimed the good news of the kingdom, and that good news—just as Jesus preached it—included the forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the liberation of the oppressed, and the hope of the future.