RECEIVING THE PROMISED BLESSING OF CHRIST AND HIS KINGDOM HINGES ON REPENTANCE
This second sermon of Peter in Acts 3 deals with a much bigger issue than the offer of personal salvation. That is certainly part of the focus — and living where we are now in this church age that certainly tends to be our focus. But Peter is raising the issue of the offer of the Messianic Kingdom to God’s covenant people, the Jews. That is why it is so important to understand the transitional nature of the Book of Acts. This is not a sermon that we would preach in the same way to our audience.
Look back with me to what we have studied earlier from Acts 1. Remember that John the Baptist had preached a similar message of repentance for the kingdom of God is at hand. But the Jews failed to recognize Jesus as their Messiah and rejected God’s kingdom offer. But look what was still on the mind of Christ after His Ascension as He gave final instructions to His apostles:
1:3 “speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God” – He wanted them to know that the ignorance and rejection by men did not change the plans of God – God is faithful to keep all of the OT promises related to the nation of Israel and to the coming kingdom. You don’t have to throw in the towel and spiritualize these promises or come up with some type of convoluted allegorical interpretation. The plain literal, grammatical sense of Scripture works just fine. Jesus is looking forward to returning and ushering in that 1000 year period of peace and righteousness on earth …
So it was natural for the disciples to ask “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel” 1:6 The only issue is the timing, not the reality of the particulars. Then we see the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in chap. 2 characterized as being consistent with what we would expect to see in the last days right before the establishment of the kingdom on earth as Joel had prophecied. We see that Jesus is seated right now at the right hand of God UNTIL God the Father makes your enemies a footstool for your feet. 2:35 You see Jesus understood that the kingdom had not yet arrived in its full physical expression on earth – but it’s coming for sure!
So just like the miracle of the speaking in tongues amazed the people and got their attention for Peter’s first sermon, so the healing of the lame man in Chap. 3 served as both an object lesson for the Messiah healing the brokenness of man as well as the attention-getter for this marvelous offer of the kingdom to the Jewish people. What love and patience and mercy and longsuffering on the part of God to make such a fantastic offer to the same people that had killed His precious Son. But that is what Christ had alluded to in Matt. 22:1-10 – multiple offers of the Messianic Kingdom with all its associated blessings
We cannot forget that Jesus came first to preach to the Jews – remember the Canaanite woman in Matt. 15:21-28 expressing her desire that Jesus heal her demon-possessed daughter. Jesus replied “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman persisted and noted that “even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Jesus responded to her great faith. It is only later in Acts that we see the gospel going indiscriminately to both Jew and Gentile after the renewed rejection and persecution of the church by the Jews.
How is that people can reject such a fantastic offer? Peter wants to make the gracious offer . . . but at the same time deliver the solemn warning that they had better not presume upon God’s goodness and patience. The time to respond in genuine repentance is now. There can be no enjoyment of the forgiveness of sins and no participation in the kingdom of God apart from repentance.
RECEIVING THE PROMISED BLESSING OF CHRIST AND HIS KINGDOM HINGES ON REPENTANCE
Don’t forget that Jesus is speaking here to “Men of Israel” 3:12; whom he identifies as “brethren” = fellow countrymen in vs. 17
OVERVIEW OF CHAP. 3:
THE SIGN MIRACLES OF THE APOSTLES HIGHLIGHT THE GLORY OF CHRIST TO ATTRACT PEOPLE TO THE BLESSING OF DELIVERANCE FROM SIN
I. 3:1-10 Healing by the Power of Christ – THE AWESOME POWER OF JESUS CHRIST HEALS BROKEN PEOPLE IN SPECTACULAR FASHION
II. 3:11-16 Preaching the Glory of Christ – FAITH IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST MAGNIFIES THE GLORY OF CHRIST (BY UNLEASHING DIVINE POWER THAT BRINGS GREAT BLESSING)
III. 3:17-26 Offering the Blessing of Christ and His Kingdom – RECEIVING THE PROMISED BLESSING OF CHRIST AND HIS KINGDOM HINGES ON REPENTANCE
I. (:17-18) INDICTMENT — REJECTION OF THE BLESSING OF CHRIST AND HIS KINGDOM ATTRIBUTED TO IGNORANCE
[Rebellion because of Ignorance because of Blindness]
A. Perpetuated Ignorance and Rejection of Jesus as Messiah by the Jews
“And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also.”
Case of the blind leading the blind (Matt. 15:14 “Let them [the offended religious leaders] alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit”) – they followed their rulers right over the cliff of ignorance of God’s Messianic plan for the ages – Important to be following leaders that can exercise discernment
Bock: Ignorance cannot provide an ultimate excuse, especially now that Peter has revealed God’s program to them. Their sin of not recognizing Jesus as Messiah and of killing him can still be forgiven if they respond. . . Rulers are seen as a driving force behind Jesus’s death in Luke 23 (Acts 3:17-18; 4:5-10, 26; 7:27, 35; 13:27-28; 14:5-7; 16:19-21; 23:5)
The problem cannot be attributed to some lack of revelation on God’s part or the obscurity of that revelation
They stumbled over the cross (1 Cor. 1:22-24) – could not stomach a suffering Messiah – so Peter goes right to the heart of their objection and proves that the sufferings of Christ were consistent with OT prophecies and should have been expected – further intensifying their guilt for rejecting Jesus
Kent: The offense of the cross was the great obstacle to Jewish acceptance of Jesus as the Christ.
B. Prophetic Inspiration and Fulfillment Regarding the Sufferings of Christ –
Christ as the Suffering Servant
“But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled.”
1. God has been revealing rather than hiding the truth; Prophecy of future events self authenticates the Scriptures
2. God’s message was a consistent one – “by the mouth of all the prophets”
3. The point that especially tripped them up was the aspect of the Suffering of Christ before entering into His glory – this was a necessity and it was literally and completely fulfilled; giving us indication of how prophecies about His Second Coming in glory will be fulfilled
Defined as “His Christ” – it is idolatry to make Christ after you own imagination – how you would like Him to be – this is God’s promised anointed one – His program of redemption; don’t try to tell God how to do things – Job had to learn that lesson – “Life is not fair” (Illustration from work) – “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” – ended up repenting in dust and ashes (Job 42:1-6)
Just like Jesus took the two men on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection and carefully explained to them the OT prophecies:
Luke 24:25-27 “And He said to them, ‘O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken [you can’t just pick and choose what portions you want to believe]! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”
How can the Jewish nation recover from such a heinous crime – the rejection of God’s Christ?
Peter knew about denying Jesus 3 times but repenting and returning and experiencing great blessing
Once you understand that God will fulfill all of His warnings as well as His promises … you feel the sense of urgency to repent – the wrath of God is hanging over you; it is imminent; it is on the way; it could be fulfilled at any time –
So Peter moves quickly from the Indictment to the Invitation
II. (:19-21a) INVITATION — REPENTANCE BRINGS FORGIVENESS OF SINS AND PROMISED KINGDOM BLESSINGS
A. Call for both Personal and National Repentance
Wiersbe: Peter was actually calling for national repentance, for the nation through its leaders had denied its Messiah and condemned Him to die. The declaration is that, if the nation repented and believed, the Messiah would return and establish the promised kingdom. The nation did not repent – and certainly God knew this would happen – so the message eventually moved from the Jews to the Samaritans (Acts 8) and to the Gentiles (Acts 10).
To “repent” means to have a heartfelt change of mind about sin, to agree with God about the ugliness of their disobedience to God, about the rightness of His standard, about the realit of their own sin. Repentance involves a sorrow over the harmful effects of sin toward God, toward others, and toward self. It involves a decision to turn from sin and to Christ. Just as we receive Christ by repentance and faith we need to continue to walk in the same way as we grow.
Is. 59:20 “A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob”
Message of Zechariah: “Return to Me that I may return to you” 1:3 The Lord remembers and will again choose Israel; read 1:1-6 — HISTORY PROVES THAT THE LORD’S URGENT CALL TO REPENTANCE MUST BE RESPONDED TO RIGHT NOW
Running from God only brings sadness and destruction
– Cain – banished from the Garden of Eden – separation – no record of him repenting and returning
– Jonah – impacted the lives of others – stormy seas and certain destruction
– Prodigal Son – thought he knew better how to enjoy life and get the most out of life
– Apostle Paul – Lord caught up with him on Road to Damascus – Why are you persecuting me?
B. Promise of Forgiveness of Sins – Sins must be dealt with
“that your sins may be wiped away,”
Isaiah 43:25 – “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
Isaiah 44:21-22 – “Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant, O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me. I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Kent: If Jesus really was the Messiah, where was the Messianic kingdom? Peter’s answer was that his hearers must repent in order that their sins might be blotted out. Only then would Jesus Christ return from heaven to bring “seasons of refreshing” and “times of restoration”.
Stott: Exaleipho means to wash off, erase, obliterate. It is used in the book of Revelation both of God who wipes away our tears and of Christ who refuses to erase our name from the book of life. William Barclay explains the allusion: “Ancient writing was upon papyrus, and the ink used had no acid in it. It therefore did not bite into the papyrus as modern ink does; it simply lay upon the top of it. To erase the writing a man might take a wet sponge and simply wipe it away.
C. Promise of National Restoration and Messianic Blessing – Christ as the Coming King
1. Far Purpose – Times of Refreshing
“in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;”
Repentance brings refreshing in our relationship with God – picture someone weighed down with sin and guilt and shame like the pilgrim with the burden on his back in Pilgrim’s Progress; spiritually thirsty and worn out – what a joy to enter into times of refreshing
Ps. 72:6-7 “May He come down like rain upon the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In his days may the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon is no more.”
2. Second Coming of Messiah with Universal Restoration
“and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things”
Restoration is needed because things are out of whack – not good as God had created everything
– Twisted and perverted – Need to be straightened; set right
– Corrupted and tainted – Need to be purified
– Broken and dysfunctional – Need to be healed and restored
III. (:21b-26) INSTRUCTION — REVELATION FROM THE JEWISH PROPHETS SHOULD HAVE PREPARED THEM TO RECEIVE THE PROMISED BLESSING OF CHRIST AND HIS KINGDOM
“about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.”.
A. (:22-23) Revelation from Moses (the greatest Prophet) – Solemn Warning – Obey or Be Judged – Christ as the Anointed Prophet-Leader
“Moses said, ‘The Lord God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed in everything He says to you. ‘And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’”
Bock: This verb anastesei may well have a wordplay built around it (also Acts 13:33). It means to bring someone onto the scene of history but could in this context allude to resurrection
Simple exhortation – Obey or be judged – should have learned that from our earthly parents
B. (:24) Revelation from All the Prophets – Beginning with Samuel – Great Expectations
“And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days.”
Bruce: Samuel was the prophet who anointed David as king and spoke of the establishment of his kingdom (I Sam. 13:14; 15:28; 16:13; 28:17), and the promises made to David found their highest fulfillment in Jesus.
Stott: It is impressive that Peter regards the many and varied strands of Old Testament prophecy as a united testimony.
We should have great expectations as we await the Second Coming of Christ
C. (:25-26) Revelation from the Patriarchs – Beginning with Abraham – Covenantal Privilege – But Hinged on Repentance and Conversion – Christ as the Promised Seed of Abraham
“It is you who are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ “For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”
Jesus called “His Christ” in vs. 18; now called “His Servant”
Bock: The appeal to old promises is important. It shows that although this community is a seemingly new entity, it is rooted in old promises. In the ancient world, for a religion to be old was a virtue because it meant that the religion had the benefit of experience. Peter’s appeal to the past is a form of legitimization for the new community.
We have only seen 2 sermons from Acts and already we see a pattern in the apostolic preaching:
– They hit hard on sin and brought home the conviction of guilt and the need for deliverance – Strong Indictment here – due to Rejection of the Messiah
– They proclaimed the glory of Christ in every respect – here seen as the Suffering Servant, the Coming King, the anointed Prophet-Leader and the promised Seed of Abraham
– They called for repentance and faith as the only way to receive forgiveness of sins and blessing – Gracious Invitation – but don’t presume on God’s goodness and patience
– They looked forward to that Second Coming of Christ with all of the blessing that would bring – Detailed Instruction – unfolding the whole Revelation of the counsel of God
The things which God announced beforehand by all the prophets about the Second Coming will all be fulfilled just as we have seen with respect to Christ’s Suffering and Death and Resurrection and Ascension. Even so Come, Lord Jesus.