Paul stated, “I am determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
This preaching of the gospel included not only the fact of Jesus’ death on the cross but the meaning of this sacrifice for the sins of the world. The power of the message of the early Church was based on the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead and the promise of life to come for all who believed in Jesus as their Savior.
The book of Acts illustrates the central importance of the resurrection in our preaching and witnessing.Jesus’ mandate to be His witnesses to the ends of the Earth was based on the reality of His resurrection victory over death and the grave. “To whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
Peter’s sermon on Pentecost emphasized not only that the Jews had crucified their Messiah, but that Jesus’ body did not remain in the grave. “(David), foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:31-32).
After healing the lame man in the temple, Peter and John revealed that there is salvation in no other name than the name of the victorious, risen Jesus. “But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14-15).
They repeated this message before the same Sanhedrin which had delivered Jesus to be crucified. “Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole” (Acts 4:10).
Peter was re-arrested and proclaimed the same message before the Jewish council. “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:30-31).
A Message of Life!
Later Peter witnessed this gospel to the Gentile Cornelius in Caesarea. “The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ; He is Lord of all; that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:36-38).
During his first missionary journey Paul’s message was the death and victorious resurrection of Jesus. “Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead. He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people” (Acts 13:29-31).
At Thessalonica, Paul preached Jesus as the risen Messiah. “(Paul was) explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ’” (Acts 17:3).
Athens, the intellectual center of the world, would be judged by Jesus Christ risen from the dead. “He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, ‘We will hear you again on this matter’” (Acts 17:31-32).
Paul defended his faith in the risen Savior before kings such as King Agrippa. “Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come; that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:22-23).
Paul was ready to die because he was confident of his own resurrection victory. “Then Paul answered, ‘What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus’” (Acts 21:13).
We are witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus. This needs to be the content and emphasis of our simple message in these last days. We have a message of life for dying sinners.