In the last article starting the Acts of the Apostles, we discovered how the Apostles assumed the authority Jesus established in them. Just by a casting of Peter’s shadow, which would be considered superstitious or idolatry by denominations, is a means of God’s Grace, chosen by God. The authority of the Apostles is real and is lived and experienced by the people. It was something celebrated by the people. The hierarchy of the Church is well under way and common knowledge in its time.
Right after the healing of so many people, opposition rose up against them. You see how they handled the situation. The Apostles remained joyful. They trusted in Jesus; His power and will to save. They get arrested, but angels come to free them (Acts 5:17-32). When challenged about not obeying the Sanhedrin, they said they must obey God, rather than men (v5;29).
Then the Apostles go right into what we call the Kerygma. The Kerygma is the Gospel message in its most basic and shortest form. You will see this story told many times, particularly in the Acts of the Apostles. This is the most important thing you could possibly memorize about your faith. Without this message, our faith means nothing. What is this Kerygma, this fundamental Gospel message?
Our sins put Jesus to death on the cross. Since we sin, we have no hope for eternal life. But Jesus, who is God, made atonement for our sins so that we may have Hope restored. He died and rose from the dead. Since He died for our sins, we have the possibility to rise with Him and have Eternal Life. Only through Jesus Christ can we be saved.
No other religion offers this, nor can they offer this in any real way. Jesus is the only one who has died for our sins. No pagan god died for our sins. Buddha never claimed such a thing. Neither did any of the Hindu spirits. All other religions have tried to get to know God or Gods. They have attempted to know things about “heaven” and the afterlife. They get a couple things right through human reasoning. But our faith in Jesus is based not on us conjuring up ideas about a God or Gods, spirits, or looking for scraps of clues about the afterlife. It is not based on opinions thrown together, put on a dartboard and let’s see what we can come up with. No. Our faith is based on the fact that God came to us and revealed Himself to us. He talked to His followers and produced many miracle, too many to be counted. These apostles are witnesses of this and give their testimony. They witnessed His very real death and resurrection. They saw Him eat in the upper room and on the beach (John 21:1-14). The apostles caught the fish. The fish were real. They watched Him chew and swallow the food. This was not a hallucination.
The reality of the resurrection is also apparent by the way the Apostles were willing to die for the faith. Some people claim that the Apostles were willing to die because they wanted fame and a long-lasting heritage. But why would anybody die for something they could never actually enjoy? If the Kerygma is not true; if everything about the afterlife is not true, then the benefits of the afterlife are not realized. It makes no sense. The story of the Kerygma is true. Jesus did die for our sins and rose to be a means of salvation for us. There is no other. Just the very fact that we can have salvation is a miracle we can only dream of without Jesus’ help. The reality of the Kerygma and the promise made for those who believe, converted many people of the time. They too knew the story and many even saw the events. Many were converted because of it. None were converted without it. It is the very foundation of our faith that we all need to know and understand. Through it, we are saved.