At the end of Luke the resurrected Jesus sends his disciples to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations (Lk. 24:47). In Matthew they are told to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19), which is presumably a baptism specifically of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ death, as a concrete and ultimate act of obedience to God, has sealed a new covenant with Israel, on the basis of which the sins of the people are forgiven. The disciples are to tell the world about this. In Acts we see, from Luke’s perspective, what this mission looked like in practice.
The absence of any reference to the atoning function of Jesus’ death in these passages is noticeable. The pattern is simple and consistent: people believe in the story of what God is doing for and through his people, central to which is the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus; they repent and are forgiven. The evidence of Acts suggests that modern evangelicalism has grossly overstated the personal saving significance of Jesus’ death. And conversely, understated the significance of the vindication and exaltation of Jesus.