In the foregoing message we pointed out that the book of Acts may be considered the dividing line, or the “backbone,” of the New Testament. This book divides the four Gospels from the Epistles, which include the book of Revelation. The Gospels present a completed Redeemer and His accomplished redemption. In Acts we have the propagation of the completed Redeemer and His accomplished redemption for the producing of the churches. Then in the Epistles we have the edifying of the believers and the building up of the churches.
Having seen the position of the book of Acts, let us now go on to see the subject of this book. The subject of Acts is the propagation of the resurrected Christ in His ascension, by the Spirit, through the disciples, for the producing of the churches—the kingdom of God. Acts is concerned with the propagation of the resurrected Christ. Christ is carrying out this propagation in His ascension, by the Spirit, and through the disciples. The purpose of Christ’s propagation is the producing of the churches—the kingdom of God.
In Acts there is not a single verse that can be taken as a summary of the entire book. The best way to present a summary, or extract, of Acts is to describe its subject. Therefore, once again I would point out that the subject of the book of Acts concerns the propagation of the resurrected Christ. It is of great value for us to have such a phrase as “the propagation of the resurrected Christ.” I do not know of any book on Acts that uses the word “propagation.” Nevertheless, the subject of Acts is the propagation of the resurrected Christ in His ascension, by the Spirit, through the disciples, for the producing of the churches—the kingdom of God.
The propagation in Acts is not the propagation of Jesus. In Acts we do not have the propagation merely of the One who lived in the home of a carpenter in Nazareth. Rather, in Acts we see the propagation of the resurrected One, the propagation of the resurrected Christ.
The propagation of the resurrected Christ is carried out by Christ in His ascension. The Lord Jesus lived on earth for thirty-three and a half years, but now He is in ascension. In His ascension the Lord is very active. We should never think that the ascended Christ is sitting passively on the throne, observing the pitiful situation on earth and feeling disappointed about it. No, in His ascension Christ is active in a very positive way. As the ascended One, He is now doing many things.
The case of the stoning of Stephen is an illustration of Christ’s activity in His ascension. Speaking of Stephen, Acts 7:55 and 56 say, “Being full of the Holy Spirit, looking intently into heaven, he saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” As the Lord was looking at the situation on earth in His ascension, He stood up. Perhaps He was saying, “You persecutors may stone Stephen and put him to death. But I will gain one of you—Saul of Tarsus—and make him much stronger than Stephen. What can you do about this? You do your stoning, and I do My observing. Wait for a period of time, and you will be defeated.” Stephen’s case illustrates that the resurrected Christ is very active in His ascension.
The fact that Christ is now in ascension means not only that He is in the heavens; it also means that He has power and authority. In His ascension Christ has all the power and all the authority in the universe. According to Matthew 28:18, the resurrected Christ said to His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Therefore, with such authority and power in His ascension the Lord is very active. What is He doing? The Lord, as the ascended One, is carrying out His universal and eternal propagation.
Who can explain why the earth today is filled with Christians? Why are there so many believers in the world? Great men have tried to gain control of the earth, but they have failed. Hitler, for example, tried to do this, but eventually he lost everything. Napoleon, after he had been defeated, reportedly looked up to the heavens and confessed that Jesus had beaten him. Napoleon admitted that even though the Lord Jesus did not fight, He gained everything. The point here is that the whole earth is in the hands of the undefeatable One, and this One is carrying out His propagation.
As the ascended Christ is carrying out His propagation, His main work is not fighting. Instead of fighting, the ascended Lord’s work is mainly propagating Himself throughout the earth. In the Lord’s recovery we have people of different colors: black, white, brown, yellow, and red. We all are part of Christ’s propagation. We have been produced by the resurrected Christ in His ascension.
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