Most sincerely do I hope that many people will read this book, and will derive from its perusal as much profit as I have received from reading the proofs of the same. Here is much food for thought, much spiritual uplift and enrichment, much Biblical truth vividly set forth and illumined. This treatise - for it may well be so named - has many merits. To some of them I would like to call the reader's attention.
TRUE BIBLICAL EXPOSITION
Here is true Biblical exposition, put in simple and terse language; no long and complicated sentences that weary the mind by the laborious process of unraveling their grammatical structure. Yet there is depth; no more skimming of the surface. Yes, it is real interpretation without exhibiting the machinery of critical exegesis. Thus the book can be read for edification alike by the technical scholar and by the general reader.
RETOLD WITH VIVIDNESS
The narrative parts of the book of "The Acts of the Apostles" are retold with vividness in modern language. That adds much to the interest of the book, because it gives it the rapid movement of a good story.
Deeply, too, am I impressed with the evangelical treatment of the Book of Acts. In it all the divine inspiration of Luke is accepted, and the illumination and leading of the HOLY SPIRIT are fully recognized. No subjective modernism finds a place in this truly Biblical volume. No effort is made to explain away the miraculous elements that stand out so clearly in the early establishment of the Christian church. Indeed, the author stresses the fact that the Book of Acts is simply a continuation of the great things "that Jesus began both to do and to teach," as narrated in the Gospel according to Luke.
ILLUSTRATIONS ARE ILLUMINATING
The use of many illustrations, gathered from history, missionary work of evangelistic efforts and other sources, is another merit of Mr. Allen's book. These lively incidents from real life are not only illustrative and illuminating; they are informing in themselves. Much reading of Christian literature must have been required in order to gather such an array of telling incidents and have them at hand at the right moment when they were needed. Besides, these heroic deeds of consecrated servants of CHRIST will put verve, courage and holy incentive into the hearts of the readers of the book.
CHARACTERS MADE TO LIVE
The outstanding characters of the Acts - James, Philip, Stephen, Peter, Paul - are pictured in what might almost be called life-size portraits. They do not seem to belong to a remote historical period, but, rather, like living men today, acting their splendid roles right before your eyes. The reader almost feels as if he were seeing these personages, not playing on a stage, but acting in real life, and hearing them tell the good news of the Gospel and power.
OUTLINES GIVE ADDED VALUE
The outlines give added value to this work. Here is an outline by chapters of the whole book of Acts, with key verses, which the reader will find very suggestive. No less valuable is the "Outline to Encourage Christian Workers." If you feel a little depressed because "things go contrary," just scan over that outline. At the beginning of each chapter you will find such a help, so that you are incited to anticipation. The questions at the end of each chapter will help the individual reader to recall the chief points and will be a valuable review lesson if the book should be used for class instruction.
ACQUAINTED WITH EVANGELICAL LITERATURE
Lastly, the author, without being pedantic, proves that he is acquainted with the best evangelical literature on the Acts. He makes use of Sir William Ramsay's monumental works on Luke as a reliable historian. He tells us that Sir William began his studies as a liberalistic critic, with little confidence in Luke; but further research right on the ground trodden by the author of the Acts converted the critic to the evangelical view
BEST EXPOSITION AND APPLICATION OF ACTS
Mr. Allen's work is a real contribution to our growing evangelical literature, and for practical purposes it is the best expository and applicatory treatment of the Acts with which I am acquainted.
BURNING OUT FOR GOD
"Now let me burn out for God," were the words recorded in the Journal of Henry Martyn, after he had spent his first full day in India. So brilliant that he was the leading scholar in Cambridge, he might have enjoyed comfort, popularity and a charming home in England; but hearing the Divine call and forsaking these, he went away to India to bear the Gospel to her teeming millions, preaching with the same fiery earnestness to men of wealth as to a crowd of beggars; enduring untold hardships, loneliness and trials, weakened with consumption and fever, suffering in the fierce heat in the lowlands of India and the scorching plains of Persia, toiling unceasingly on until at last utterly exhausted, far distant from friends to soothe his feverish brow, at the age of thirty-one he was laid in a lonely grave in Turkey, having literally burned out for GOD. His works, in the translations of the New Testament and Psalms, stand as a monument more precious and lasting than marble or granite.
AWAKENED BY ACTS
What was it that awakened Henry Martyn, the Cambridge scholar, from his self-satisfied worldliness? In sorrow, after his father's death, he began to read The Acts, then to inquire into the doctrine of the Apostles, and then "to devour" the words of the SAVIOUR "with delight." A change took place in his soul concerning which he wrote: "The whole current of my desires is altered. I am walking quite another way."
A SOUL-STIRRING RECORD
How could he fail to be awakened by the Book of Acts, for it is a soul-stirring record of men who, though they went forth to face a world prejudiced with hypocrisy, superstition and idolatry, were so baptized with the HOLY SPIRIT and with fire that they, not only endured the fiery trials of their persecutors, but by the power with which they were endued, time after time, in city after city and country after country, won multitudes to the Cross of CHRIST. These were men who gave up their fortunes and hazarded their lives, counting nothing of this world dear unto themselves, but burning out for GOD.
Peter, John and the other apostles, defying threatening officials and fearing not the pestilential dungeon, declared: "Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard."
Stephen was so filled with the HOLY SPIRIT and wisdom that his enemies could not answer him in argument, and seeing they could silence him in no other way, rushed upon him, dragged him out of the city and stoned him to death. So after a brief but noble career he fell as the first martyr of the Cross, having burned out for GOD.
Philip, driven by persecution from his home and city, preached with overflowing love to the hated Samaritans and the despised Ethiopian, ready to testify to one or a multitude, and in a short time brought about so great a revival in Samaria that it was necessary to send for some of the apostles to help to take care of the new converts.
Paul, going out in the spirit of fasting and prayer, testified with such amazing winsomeness, earnestness and faith that, wherever he went, in Cyprus, Asia Minor, Macedonia, Melita or Rome, he left converts everywhere in his trail. Whether he labored on land or sea, in country or city, among Hebrews or Gentiles, in freedom or in chains, he counted not his life dear to himself but burned out for GOD.
The more I study the Book of Acts and the more I preach upon it, the more I am drawn to it. It comprises an engrossing and enlivening study. It is the great character of the evangelist, the missionary and the student of ecclesiology. Would that I might arouse many students and Christian workers that they too may love and admire it!
An effort has been made to set forth a clear exposition of the doctrines and lessons of the Book without manifesting the machinery of exegesis.
OUTLINES AND QUESTIONS
Outlines precede, and questions follow, each chapter, in order to aid all students and Bible teachers in their study and instruction.
SUBJECTS AND QUESTIONS
If students memorize the subjects and "Key Verses" of the chapters, it will help them to keep in mind the substance of each chapter, and will give them a mental store of choice verses which they can meditate upon and make use of in practical Christian work.
The quotations from the Scriptures are according to the King James Version.
HOPE AND PRAYER
This volume is sent forth with the hope that it may be used of the SPIRIT to draw men to CHRIST; that it may assist many to have a larger appreciation and deeper understanding of the Book of Acts, and that they, fired with the evangelistic and missionary enthusiasm of the apostles, may become leaders in a much-needed revival in the Christian Church. It is accompanied with the prayer that many readers may be so quickened with love for CHRIST and his service, that "they shall lay aside every weight" and "run with patience the race that is set before them," "counting it all joy to suffer for Christ's sake, determined to preach "nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified," ever "pressing toward the mark," toiling steadily on, whether at home or abroad, until they shall "have fought the good fight," and "finished their course," having "burned out for GOD."