A Key Theme in Acts
The book of Acts is one-hundred percent dependent on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus died on the cross, but did not rise from the dead, there would be no “Acts of the Apostles.” In fact, there would be no Christianity.
Acts begins with the resurrected Lord giving his disciples final instructions and explaining to them their responsibility to be witnesses to the world of what they had seen (Acts 1:6-8). What was the chief thing concerning which they were called to be witnesses? Peter answers that question as the disciples began the process of finding a replacement for Judas, when he says that the new apostle “must become with us a witness to [Christ’s] resurrection” (Acts 1:22). The message the apostles were to proclaim was the message of the resurrected Christ, and every major sermon given by the apostles in Acts contains that message.
In Peter’s first recorded sermon he used the Old Testament to prove that David “foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of Christ” (Acts 2:31). This he linked to Jesus, whom “God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:32). Thus, Peter proved Jesus’ was the Christ by his resurrection, and immediately moved to the necessary implication: “repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Turning to Jesus and being forgiven was dependent upon the people’s understanding that Jesus was the resurrected Christ.
Peter continued to proclaim the resurrection as central to the gospel message in subsequent sermons (see chapters 3, 4, 10), and Paul’s sermons look remarkably similar to his. Paul constantly goes back to the truth that “God raise [Jesus] from the dead” (Acts 13:30). Even in Paul’s interrupted sermon at the Areopagus, Paul still made time to focus on the resurrection. And further, the chief objection the people had against Paul was the message of the resurrection (Acts 17:22-34). Interestingly enough, when Paul gets to the resurrection in his speech before Agrippa and Festus, this is what Paul is chiefly mocked for (Acts 26). Though the resurrection is one of the chief stumbling blocks for unbelievers, the apostles continued to proclaim it as central to the entire gospel message.
The resurrection of Christ is a vitally important doctrine. However, it is not just dry dogma to be scrutinized, but invigorating truth that should affect the lives of the people in our churches.
The Resurrection of Christ Produces Strong Apologetics
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most documented and supported events in history. The resurrection was witnessed by hundreds of people of different ages and genders, at different times and places, and caused such an impact that hundreds of disciples were willing to be brutally persecuted for their witness of Christ’s resurrection. This rock solid, historical reality can help people as they discuss the truth of the gospel with unbelievers. Average laymen may not always have answers to complex, philosophical jargon spouted out by unbelievers, but all Christians of any age or education level can articulate the historical truth of the resurrection.
The Resurrection of Christ Produces Strong Evangelism
If our Savior was dead we would have no message to proclaim. But since our Savior lives we have the greatest news the world has ever known! The gospel is not good news about a “plan of salvation”; the gospel is good news about a risen Savior! Jesus is alive, therefore we have something great to tell people. Jesus rose from the dead, therefore we have a story to tell. Jesus has been resurrected, therefore we can tell people that their sins can be forgiven. If the account of Jesus stopped at his death, then we have nothing to proclaim and nobody to point towards for hope. But since Jesus has been raised, we have a message
The Resurrection of Christ Produces Confidence
If Jesus was still dead then he would have been a liar and God would have failed. But God’s resurrection of Jesus vindicated him. It showed the world that Jesus really was “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:34). It proved that Jesus was not just another teacher, just another leader, just another man. Buddha is dead, Mohammed is dead, Confucius is dead, Joseph Smith is dead
The Resurrection of Christ Produces Hope
Without the resurrection of Christ, Christians could not be justified (Rom. 4:24-25) and would not be resurrected after death (1 Cor. 15). Though this is not as explicitly stated in Acts as it is in the Epistles, it is clear that forgiveness if sins is dependent on turning to the risen Christ (Acts 2). If there was no risen Christ, there would be no forgiveness of sins. The resurrection gives us hope that our sins can be forgiven. In Acts this message was given to both Jews and Gentiles, men and women, rich and poor, God fearers and outright pagans, those who read the scriptures and those who practiced witchcraft, sinners of every sort and stripe. Jesus wanted his disciples to be witnesses of his resurrection to people “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The good news that the Son of God rose from the dead and will forgive those who turn to him is news that should bring everyone hope, as he is willing to accept anyone who comes to him.