Hi guys, I’m taking just one class this semester while on “break” and it is to supplement my studies as Gospel Doctrine teacher. This year in Gospel Doctrine class we are studying the New Testament, so to get ahead of the class I’m taking the second half as a BYUI online course (Acts – Revelation). Each week I’ll have a blog post on a principle from the readings. Enjoy, and feel free to pin my little image quotes!
Luke’s testimony (Luke 1:1-3, Acts 1:1-11)
The Apostle Luke wrote a two-part letter, a “treatise,” to a guy named Theophilus. The first part became the Gospel of Luke, and the second part is The Acts of the Apostles. Luke testifies in this treatise that his declarations are from “eyewitnesses” and ministers of the word. His stated purpose is “that thou mightest know the certainty of those things.” In Acts, he tells us that his Gospel account is of what Jesus did and taught until the “day in which he was taken up” — returned to heaven after his bodily resurrection from the dead — and that Acts includes the Holy Ghost’s guidance to the apostles that Jesus had chosen. Both books of the New Testament are a powerful testimony of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Why is the doctrine of Resurrection so central?
This leaves us wondering: why is the doctrine of the Resurrection of Jesus so important, so central to the faith of believers? Why does it matter that one guy, more than two millennia ago, came back to life? I think the answer is found in 1 Corinthians 15:13-22, where the Apostle Paul tells us that if Christ has not risen from the dead, “then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” Why? Because (v. 17-18) the fact that Christ was risen is a testimony of an even greater ability, the ability to forgive sin, and if he wasn’t raised, then we have no chance of repentance and we keep all our sins, we “are perished.” The key to being saved is being saved from both death and sin, and if Christ could conquer one, He can conquer the other, and therein lies our hope. Paul testifies,
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
A beautiful testimony for a beautiful truth. The point of life isn’t to die and become nothing, nor is it to die as imperfect beings and live in eternal misery for our shortcomings. It is to become alive and perfect and able to live with other perfected beings in great joy and eternal progress. Jesus showed that path by walking it first
Jump over to another ancient record, not unlike the Dead Sea Scrolls, where there is another account of Jesus’ doings after His resurrection: in The Book of Mormon. In 3 Nephi 27:13-14, Jesus Christ, in His own words, describes the power He gained by accomplishing the atonement and resurrection, and the opportunity it provides us. He says that:
as I have been lifted up…even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works.
He knows the path, and is best able to judge, in understanding and mercy, our walking of the same path. What could be more fair?
We don’t walk with the Resurrected Christ today, though, so how can we keep the faith/vision?
Jesus’ followers wondered this too, actually. How are they going to know what to do, to keep the faith, to steer clear of sin, to know how to accomplish good things, without His constant example and advice? Well, Christ answered this right before he ascended to heaven. In Acts 1:8, He says “ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” The Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit, Spirit of God) is promised to Christ’s believers to help them be witnesses of Him. We have this same promise. “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:5). The influence of the Holy Ghost, I think, is that true inner feeling that some call a conscience, or internal compass, or innermost self that teaches our soul what is true, what is real. When we tune into that voice, things get clear and we see things as they really are. We aren’t blinded by the material world around us, but can see truths we can’t touch but are still there.
One sent forth
The Bible Dictionary defines the word “Apostle” as meaning “one sent forth” and it is the title Jesus gave to the twelve whom he chose and ordained to be special witnesses for Him. We, too, can be modern-day witnesses of Jesus Christ, we can believe and share the good news that Jesus of Nazareth conquered death and sin. It gives great hope and joy and optimism, and doesn’t the world need more of that?
The Kairos Life
Coming up next week: Acts 9, 13-18 if you want to read ahead!