Teaching Acts in Prison: Part 2, The First Gospel Sermons

That the Lordship of Jesus and the Kingdom of God is the dominant theme in the book of Acts, in contrast to a focus upon atonement, is seen in the content of the first gospel sermons.

For example, I asked the Men in White (inmates in Texas wear all white), does the following sound like the sermons we hear in the book of Acts? To wit:
We are all sinners, condemned before a just and holy God. But Jesus died for our sins. Believe in Jesus and your sins will be forgiven.
We tend to think, I shared with the Men in White, that gospel sermons should sound something like this, with a presentation of Jesus' death on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for sins. But that's not what the sermons in Acts sound like. Again, the focus on Acts is more upon the resurrection and ascension of Jesus than upon his crucifixion. Throughout the book of Acts, there's very little about the atonement. The gospel message isn't "Jesus died for your sins" but "Jesus is Lord."

Consider the climax of the very first gospel sermon, the one Peter preaches at Pentecost:
God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand

until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 
Notice the themes. Raised to life. Exalted to the right hand of God. Ascended to heaven. Sitting at God's right hand. Victory over enemies. All culminating in the ringing proclamation: Jesus is Lord and Messiah.

Again, this is the message that flows out of the ascension, that Jesus is Lord, rather than the crucifixion. The gospel in Acts is more about the kingdom and reign of God than about the atoning death of Jesus.

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