Resurrection in the Book of Acts

By Maurice G. Dametz

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


The book of Acts is the book of preaching. Certainly there was preaching. How could there be anything else when the preachers had seen their resurrected Lord and were yielded unto Him? One note was dominant in the message of these Divinely commissioned preachers, — the resurrection of Jesus. They had seen the risen Lord; that had transformed their lives. They had seen the triumphant Christ, the mighty Victor; that changed everything for them. They went forth with a positive message. They did not preach theories, but facts which stirred their souls to the very depths. Power accompanied their message. The Word of God gripped the hearers, and with the Word of God gripping souls, — things go. Throughout the book of Acts may be seen a Person. In the scenes of preaching, persecution or prison, the risen Christ is present. Someone has well said, "The actions of the risen and glorified Christ can easily be traced throughout the entire book." Again and again the resurrected Jesus is seen. He is seen at the portal of the book, and at its close. We want to consider the preaching message and the results attendant upon the delivery of this message.

The preaching of the Apostles in the book of Acts reveals our message. Ten sermons are recorded in the book; nine of them were preached to unbelievers, and one to believers. Seven out of the ten sermons have the resurrection of Christ for their theme. In the remaining sermons the resurrection is implied. It is evident that the resurrection of Jesus was a vital part of the Apostles' message. They did not talk about the resurrection once a year, but all the time. What a difference between then and now. Then it was resurrection all the time, now we hardly hear about it once a year, — instead is all the soft talk about immortality. The Apostles did not preach about the earthly life of Jesus; they were charged with the message of the resurrection. Today we are pointed to the purity of Christ's life. Preachers today preach a matchless system of ethics. The result is an imitation church, and an imitation Christianity without any power. Christianity bases its claim to acceptance upon the resurrection of Jesus. Peter taking advantage of the occasion preached his second sermon. The heart of the sermon was the resurrection of Jesus (3:15-26). The message was pointed and positive. What was the result? The Sadducees took offense because he spoke of the resurrection. The message was like a thunderbolt to the consciences of these men with stuffed heads and starved hearts. Rough hands seized Peter. Persecution began. The Sanhedrin called Peter on the carpet. He turned on them and preached the resurrection (4:10.) They turned him loose, commanding him not to speak or teach in Jesus' Name (4:18.) Immediately, he went to the believers at Jerusalem and witnessed of the resurrection with great power (4:33.) The second persecution began. Peter and the Apostles were thrown into prison (5:17-18.) But Peter was undaunted. His experience made him hold. Immediately following the deliverance from prison, Peter was found in the temple preaching again. The officers took him, for the people were about ready to stone him and the others. He was brought before the council. Fearlessly he pilloried the priests as enemies of God and crucifiers of the Messiah. The fearless preaching of the Apostles proves this fact. There is no reason why the preaching of today should be modified. It is evident that the preachers of today have departed unto another gospel. The only hope for a powerless church to become powerful is for its preachers to get back to the positive, powerful and transforming message of the Apostles.

The Apostles' preaching produced results. The power of God was manifested mightily through the spoken word. Let us notice the message of Peter. The Peter of the book of Acts was unlike the Peter of previous experience. He was transformed. A glimpse at the risen Jesus changed him.

Turning to chapters 3 to 5, let us notice their message and the results. Peter and John were going to a prayer-meeting in the temple. On the way Peter healed a lame man. The crowds of people became excited. He preached the resurrection of Jesus to his enemies. The message got through the surface. It cut to the heart. It reached center. The preaching was prevailing, compelling, impelling and convicting. They gave Peter and the Apostles a beating and turned them loose (5:25-40. ) But prisons and persecutions could not silence Peter. He had a good time. It made him more of a man. He and the Apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the Name of Jesus. Persecution could not stop them. Nothing could hinder them. With wounds on their backs, they continued to testify daily in the temple and in every house (5:41-42.) What an example of steadfastness for us to follow.

Paul was another Divinely commissioned preacher. What was his message? He, too, had seen the resurrected Jesus. The appearance of Jesus on the Damascus way revolutionized his life. He became God's mightiest man. He had but one message, — everything in his preaching and in his Epistles center about the risen Christ. Paul always spoke with a tone of authority, — he was dogmatic and positive in his preaching. Such preaching accomplishes a Divine result.

Straightway after Paul's conversion he began to preach Christ. He asked authority from no man. He applied to no one for orders. His heart was glowing with the love of Christ. The Jews were confounded by his preaching. He proved that Jesus was the Christ. He preached the resurrection. Day and night they sought to kill him. He escaped from Damascus, being let down by the wall in a basket (9:22-25). He went down to Jerusalem and boldly spoke in Jesus' Name with the same result, — the Greeks sought to kill him (9:28-29). Here Paul took the same place that Stephen did a year or two before, perpetuating the work that Stephen had left. The last time Paul was in Jerusalem he was in the persecuting mob. What a sensation!

One has only to follow Paul in his missionary journeys to find out how often he preached the resurrection. He first recorded sermon is in Acts 13. He preached on the resurrection of Jesus (vss. 33-37). The next Sabbath the whole city came out to hear Paul. Persecution arose an I he was expelled. His next stopping place was Iconium. He spoke the Word boldly. There the Gentiles and Jews plotted to stone Paul (14:3-5) He went on to Lystra and preached the Gospel there. Certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium followed and stirred up the people against him. He was stoned, taken out of the city and left as dead (14:7-19). Stones are the answer of those who have no arguments.

At Thessalonica, on Paul's second missionary tour, we find him holding meetings in the house of Jason. Pie had preached in the synagogue on the resurrection, and all the city was in an uproar. His enemies accused him of sedition. What a testimony to the power of the Gospel, — "these have turned the world upside down" (17:1-9). On the way to Athens Paul and Silas stopped at Berea long enough to stir up the people (17:10-14). At Athens Paul preached that wonderful sermon on Mars Hill. He declared unto those idolatrous people the true God and Jesus Christ His Son Whom God raised from the dead (17:22-32). And when they heard of the resurrection they mocked Paul. At Corinth Paul testified in the synagogue that Jesus was Christ. Persecution arose. Paul showed his persistence in getting forth the message by preaching the Gospel in the house of Justus next door to the synagogue. Here Paul preached the Word boldly for eighteen months.

Notice that every time Peter and Paul got into trouble it was because they preached the resurrection of Jesus. Prisons were used to silence them — it was because they preached the resurrection. They were beaten and stoned because they preached the resurrection. They were called before councils and courts because they preached the resurrection. Persecution always follows this sort of preaching. Persecution will follow this sort of preaching today. It may be refined persecution. Today people malign. misrepresent and lie about God's men, that they may silence them. The time will come when they shall again be martyred.

What were the blessings attendant upon the Apostles' preaching of the resurrection?

First: It resulted in boldness and power in the lives of the preachers. They had great compassion for the lost. Their preaching had a "prick" in it.

Second: The churches and believers prospered under such ministry:

"Howbeit many of them which heard the Word believed" (4:4).

"And great grace was upon them all" (4:33).

"And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost" (13:52).

"And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily" (16:5).

"And the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified" (19:17)

These above named results speak well for the preaching of the resurrection.. The message was stabilizing. Believers grew in grace. Aggressive churches were built up. The Word of God was studied. The name of Jesus was magnified.

We need this message today. We live in a Sadducean age. Today, it is not alone the offense of the Cross and the resurrection, — it is the offense of all supernaturalism. Christianity is becoming de-supernaturalized. The issue between the Apostles and their enemies is the struggle of the ages. They represent the parties of today. In these days when the Old Gospel is passing from the earth, and preachers are preaching a Gospel of their own, where do you stand? Which side are you on?