Summary: Despite multiple attacks against Christianity today, the spreading of the Good News of God's love in Christ is our unfinished task from which mature Christians will not shrink or be silenced.
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS AGAINST SUCH ODDS?
There was no doubt about the empty tomb! The question for the Jewish hierarchy was how to control and shape the narrative to explain away even the possibility of a resurrection - to discourage Jesus’ followers, to leave them wondering, “How in the world is it possible to spread the Good News against such odds?”
In their effort to stop the spread of the Good News, they put a spin on the narrative but, they exercised no control over the resurrected Jesus Himself, nor did they have power to negate the reality of the disciples’ personal experiences. They had been with Jesus! Nothing can negate your personal experiences!
Had you been there when Jesus went about teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people . . . when He made the blind to see, the lame to walk . . . when He raised Lazarus from the dead . . . when they crucified your Lord . . . when they laid Him in the tomb . . . when He arose . . . when He appeared to His followers over a 40-day period . . . when He ascended to the Father in Heaven.
Had you been there, and you were one among the disciples who faced the task of carrying on the work that Jesus began, what might you have thought, felt or asked? How might you have responded?
The Book of Acts provides the basic history of the spread of Christianity during the three decades following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ . . . is a continuation of the gospel according to Luke and might best be understood as Acts of the Holy Spirit rather than Acts of the Apostles - a consideration which Luke addresses as he tells how the disciples responded to Jesus’ Great Commission to spread the Gospel - Acts 1:4-8, 12-14 – AN UNSTOPPABLE MISSION!
Jesus said His goodbyes and left. He left behind, in the hands and hearts of His disciples:
An unfinished task. Luke’s gospel had told all that Jesus began to do and to teach. Now it’s up to His disciples to continue that task.
An unchangeable message - made so by: The Lord’s resurrection . . . Forty days of appearances . . . The Ascension - authentication of the message “salvation in no other”. (It is at this point that Christianity today faces its biggest challenge).
The Christian Church is being attacked . . . belittled . . . told that we must modify (scale down) basic Christian doctrines to adapt to a “New World Order” – in which there would be “no moral boundaries”. Why would we do that? The Gospel lives on . . . is fool proof . . . is unchangeable. Modification ought to be out of the question!
An Unquestionable Love. The word “passion” used by Dr. Luke in Acts 1: 3 - “showed Himself alive after His passion” - epitomizes all that Jesus went through on our behalf to make atonement for our sins. Passion of Christ speaks of His role as Suffering Servant . . . sin bearer . . . Cross bearer . . . spotless Lamb of God whose blood was shed for the remission of the sins of the world! Unquestionable love!
An Unmistakable Plan. Don’t you appreciate our Lord’s way of cutting through the chase and getting to the bottom line? “And you will be my witnesses.” We were not told to become super sales people, attempting to persuade others with our own ability. No, we were instructed to tell what Christ did for us . . . what happened to us . . . what a wonderful change in our lives has been wrought since Jesus came into our hearts. “One beggar telling another beggar where to get bread!”
An Unshakable Testimony. Just as the Voice gave testimony to the Sonship of Jesus at His baptism, two heavenly witnesses “stood by them in white apparel” (Acts 1:10) at our Lord’s Ascension. Their testimony exalted Christ. And so must ours!
An Unstoppable Force. The Living Lord - His followers of one accord - All of them praying – the Holy Spirit (the Christian’s “secret weapon”) - “with the women” (an even greater “secret weapon”) - A winning combination!
Put together a dynamic, living organism, functioning in unity and harmony, men and women joining hands and hearts, praying fervently, under the influence of the Spirit of God – and you have an unstoppable force! So, be not dismayed. The Gospel is not dead. Christ lives. His Church marches on.
An Unfailing Promise. Apart from hope, there would be no point in fighting on . . . praying on . . . continuing with one accord and never giving up. God always manifests Himself at the right moment to keep our hopes alive: “This same Jesus will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into Heaven.” Cling to that promise. Our Lord will never let us down. Let us be sure we never let Him down.