Jesus went up; Spirit came down; Church went out
Acts begins with a summary of the final chapters in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). You could summarize the message with three arrows: Arrow Up, Arrow Down and Arrow Out. When Jesus went up, He promised to send the Holy Spirit down to empower His followers to go out. As God‟s promises were fulfilled in the book of Acts, the message of Christ began to spread. Christ-followers flooded the countryside and overwhelmed the Roman Empire with a message of love. This marginalized, underfunded, and ragtag group of disciples delivered a unique message unlike any religion, philosophy or teaching.
What was this powerful message and movement? Simply put, they proclaimed that a dead man was alive again.
They proclaimed the historic fact that Jesus actually came and physically, bodily, and historically defeated death. This message was not primarily a teaching, a philosophy, a sermon, or a set of dogma. At its core, the messengers went out with this statement: "Christ offers a way to defeat death: physical, spiritual and emotional death." People from every background, religion, and culture face the common enemy of death. Never had a movement promised to overcome death. This death-defying movement was also backed up by actual historic evidence. Jesus offered to not only defeat death, but give us His life, one that is more abundant. The movement spread like wildfire to everyone: outcast, poor, rich, affluent, Greek, Jew, Roman, African, European and Ethiopian. Since death is the great equalizer, a death-defeater was the great unifier of cultures and backgrounds. Everyone wanted to know how to make sure death didn‟t have the last laugh.