Theme of the Apostles
Study No. 12
Strange as it may seem, thousands of Christians today do not know the theme of the early
apostles of Christ in the beginning of the New Testament Church.
Jesus said the gospel of the Kingdom would be preached to all nations just prior to the end of this age. But is the gospel of the Kingdom of God only an announcement of the government of Christ on the earth when He comes as King of kings? That is certainly good news to some. But to others it is bad news, and they will actually fight against Him when He returns.
True, a kingdom needs a king, territory, subjects, and laws, otherwise it would not be a kingdom. Yet, when the Kingdom of God is referred to, a new dimension is added.
There is an animal kingdom, a human kingdom, and high above all, the God Kingdom or Kingdom of God. Perhaps a better description is the word Ďfamilyí of persons. My fatherís name is Trescott, one family, but consisting of more than one member. So the Hebrew name Elohim signifies one family (God), made up of more than one person. At present there are two Spirit Beings in the God family: God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, His Son. It is this Family of ruling Beings that administers the government of God throughout the universe.
The good news Jesus brought from the Father is how a human being, of the human family or human kingdom, can be born into the God Family, the Kingdom of God. The apostles were intent on making the way into that Family of Spirit Beings known. Those taking advantage of this great opportunity, would be assisting Christ in the administration of His government on earth, when He arrives back to establish His world-ruling Kingdom and government.
The book of Acts is replete with sermons and speeches which vividly reveal what was uppermost in the minds of the apostles to tell to the world. What they told is good news that few understand today.
The first recorded sermon in the early Church was by Peter in Acts 2. If Peter was the chief apostle (as some falsely claim), at least anyone in our day who would claim to be an apostle ought to follow Peterís example in what to preach to the world. That sermon pricked the hearts of at least 3,000 people so they would have the right attitude in asking what they should do.
Notice Peterís reply in Acts 2:38: "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Peter preached repentance and remission of sins! But is that what Jesus wanted? Or did Jesus only want an announcement made that He would return someday and solve all the problems, bringing peace at last?
Jesus Christ was specific in His instructions to His disciples just prior to His ascension to heaven. We find it in Luke 24:47, "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
How can anyone who claims to be a servant of Jesus Christ not preach what Jesus Himself commanded should be preached? And furthermore, it was to be done in His name, not some unknown strong hand from somewhere. Yet there are those who have left off preaching the real gospel and have substituted a watered-down version! Such are in mortal danger!
In Acts 3, Peter climaxed his exhortation in verse 19 by saying, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."
Astounding! There are some ministers today who seem to want people to get their 'just dues', instead of repenting. Some insist they are not trying to convert anyone, but Peter was! It is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance and conversion, and Peter was not going to limit his Redeemer!
A major purpose of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, today, is found in Acts 5:31. Peter, an apostle, is still the one preaching: "Him [Christ] hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins."
Yes, Christís purpose today is one of granting repentance and remission of sins to the many the Father would call. And many were to be called (Matthew 22:14).
Stephen was stoned, murdered, for his blistering indictment of the people, that they were resisting the Holy Spirit, stubbornly resisting repentance! See Acts 7:51-53. Preaching real repentance is not a popular message.
Were Godís servants to preach a message about the true Christ? Was Christ to be preached to the people? Was Jesus and His message of repentance and forgiveness to be preached? What did Philip preach? Notice Acts 8:5, "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them."
In verse 6, Christ even showed His approval by granting miracles. The people gave heed, repented, and were baptized. They believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the Kingdom of God, verse 12. Does repentance and remission of sins have anything to do with the Kingdom of God? Absolutely! It is the only way into that Kingdom, and Christ is the only door. Philip preached so movingly about the Kingdom of God that the people repented and were baptized. Baptism comes after repentance and is an outward symbol of obedience and faith in the resurrection, Acts 8:12.
Philip preached Jesus to the eunuch, Acts 8:35. And the very first thing Paul began to preach after his conversion was Christ! (Acts 9:20). When Peter was sent by Christ to open the way of salvation to the Gentiles, he again stressed repentance and remission of sins. Acts 10:43, "To Him [Christ] give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins."
Acts 11:18 verifies that God was granting repentance to the Gentiles: "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."
When the apostles remained in Jerusalem during the persecution (Acts 8:1-4), lay members were scattered preaching the Word. Some of them were of Cyprus and Cyrene and they preached the Lord Jesus to the Greeks in Antioch (Acts 11:20). Did Christ approve? Verse 21 says He did: "And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord."
Imagine! Christ helped lay members preach about His grace and mercy, so that many turned from their sins and turned to Christ. Was this a cause for rejoicing? Verse 23 shows Barnabas was glad. He was not in the least upset because Jesus had used someone else instead of him.
Paul preached to a mixed congregation of Jews and Gentiles. What was his theme? What was always his aim? What was the goal of his sermons? It was to bring people to repentance and turn them to the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 13:38 says, "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man [Jesus] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins."
Saving people was foremost on the minds of the apostles and lay members alike. Read the rest of the book of Acts and take note of the speeches and sermons. As you do, ponder Acts 16:30-31; 17:3, 30; 18:24-28; 26:17-18, 20; and 28:23-31. Preaching the Kingdom of God requires preaching the way into that Kingdom through Jesus Christ granting repentance and remission of sins.
It behooves us all to look to the Scriptures, the Work of God, to find the truth of a matter. The truth is, repentance and remission of sins was the theme of the early apostles.
ó written by John Trescott (with minor editing by Richard C. Nickels) W
New 23rd Psalm
The government is my shepherd;
Therefore, I need not work.
It alloweth me to lie down on a good job,
It leadeth me bedside still factories,
It destroyeth my initiative,
It leadeth me in the path of a parasite for politicís sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of laziness and deficit spending,
I will fear no evil, for the government is with me.
It prepareth an economic utopia for me,
Appropriating the earnings of my own grandchildren;
It fills my head with false security,
My inefficiency runneth over.
Surely the government should care for me
All the days of my life
And I shall dwell in a foolís paradise forever.
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