Ready to Take the World WITH CHRIST’S RESURRECTION
A Sermon Manuscript on Acts 1:1–3 by Brian Mann
[Audio sermon related may be found here.]
It wasn’t the first time that God’s people represented by twelve leaders were called to go take something for God. In Numbers 13:1–2
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a chief among them.””
Peter knew this and will later set forth a proposal for the twelfth leader to be chosen to replace the betrayer in vv.15ff. But the first Chapter of Acts is clearly a more expansive mission than to take the land of Israel—it is now a call to take the world, and to do so specifically—with Christ. The first conquest initially failed when ten of twelve spies came back from spying out the land of Canaan gave an evil report. In contrast, Caleb and Joshua report back favorably trusting what God promised them. The result was they wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb for their faith in God, a faith that believed that God was giving them the land he promised them. (cf. Numbers 13–14). In further contrast, later in Joshua 2 we read of a woman named Rahab who hid spies who came in the name of the Lord to take Jericho. She gives a different testimony—one like that of Joshua and Caleb—saying,
Joshua 2:9–11 ESV “and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”
Those who believed God was giving the land promised went in and took it, and not one word which God promised failed (1 Kings 8:56).
Now, the disciples of Jesus are faced with a new conquest that requires believing that God is giving them the whole Roman world for Jesus. And we are faced with a more expansive challenge based on their completed testimony to trust God is giving the church the world with Christ. But many people are too busy building their own kingdom to expand the kingdom of God on earth for the sake of and by the provision of Jesus. Will we then have faith like the two witnesses—Caleb and Joshua in the OT and like Peter and Paul in the NT, and like Rahab, or will we fail to go forth and take the world with Christ?
The apostles were readied to take the Roman world with Christ. This set the stage for all future generations to increasingly do the same. But what made them ready?
They were readied to take the Roman world with Christ’s appearing alive to them.
Acts 1:1–3 ESV “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”
In order to take the Roman world they had to be certain that Jesus was alive. And in order for the church today to take the whole earth, we must be certain that Jesus is alive. So, the text emphasizes that “Jesus presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs.” The word “proofs” is τεκμήριον which speaks of a fixed, certain or sure token; or infallible proof. This means that it was impossible to be lead astray or be mistaken by this sign—it was proven that Jesus was raised from the dead. The means is stated as by “appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” The forty days is reminiscent of when Moses received the law on mount Sinai. The subject of Christ’s instruction was similar, about the kingdom of God, God’s rule and reign over the world. Exodus 15:18 says, “The LORD will reign forever and ever.” Psalm 103:19 says, “The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” When Moses was instructed on Mt. Sinai he was given the stipulations of the covenant including the blessings and curses for those who do not obey the Lord. Now, Jesus gives what makes for peace with God. It would not come without Christ being raised.
The necessity of the apostles being certain of Christ’s resurrection is stated throughout the book of Acts beginning with the replacement of Judas to fulfill the twelve in number of apostolic witnesses in Acts 1:21–22,
Acts 1:21–22 ESV “So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.””
A thirteenth is added of course in Paul but this is also in keeping that at one time there were thirteen tribes of Israel (if you count the Levites as a tribe with Ephraim and Manasseh). Nonetheless, there was a necessity of all of the apostolic witnesses to be certain about the resurrection by having been present and taught by Jesus himself appearing alive to them. This is further emphasized in the sermon on Pentecost,
Acts 2:32 ESV “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.”
Then it is said in chapter 3:21 that the Prophet like Moses was raised up, this was Jesus
“whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”
In Acts 4 it is stated again,
Acts 4:10 ESV “let it be known to all of you 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 is standing before you well.”
So, it was a foundational part of the apostolic ministry to expand the kingdom in the Roman world that they were certain about Christ being raised. This would be the case for all the apostles in the first century, it was absolutely foundational to be certain about Christ being raised from the dead to conquer the Roman empire with the kingdom of Christ. In Acts 17:3, we read,
Acts 17:3 ESV “explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.””
The apostles were readied by Jesus to take the world with Christ! Acts 1:1–3 indicates this is foundational, and we see it worked out through the book in their preaching. Calvin states that it is by principle or primary Christian doctrines that this world is conquered. So, what is more primary than the resurrection of Jesus Christ! Luke writes that this was foundational to being ready to take the Roman world. And it must be foundational for all conquering of any world. The apostle’s faith in the risen Jesus sets the stage for all generations after them to increasingly do what they are called to do in their own day. What is set forth here is foundational for us to fulfill God’s call to conquer in our own day. The world is conquered by the preaching of principal or primary Christian doctrines, and there is nothing more primary than Christ being raised from the dead. You must therefore be certain of Christ alive from the dead for you to be readied to make any progress of the Christian faith in any part of life—personal, familial, ecclesiastical, or state. A failure to hold with certainty that Jesus is risen from the dead is the sure death of any of faith’s conquests. You must believe Jesus is alive!
As the ten unfaithful spies in Numbers 13 failed to believe God’s promise, so many do not conquer anything in life today because they disbelieve that Jesus Christ is raised from the dead.