June 21, 2019
Acts 3:17-26 (NIV)
“Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’
“Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
1. Peter extends grace to the people despite the severe consequences of their ignorance, but he does not excuse them. Ignorance for the consequences of your actions is no excuse.
2. He tells them they must own their actions, repent from them, and they would be forgiven; “that your sins may be wiped out.”
Note: Here’s an inferior analogy, but it works: You did not study for a big test. You failed the test because of your ignorance. Teacher says if you will own that and not make it an excuse, he will wipe the F off the books. It never happened. You get to start with a clean slate. Isn’t that good news?
3. Further, owning your actions and their consequences in repentance will lead to tangible blessings from the Lord—times of refreshing.
4. A further benefit of “owning it,” rather than playing the victim by blaming it on someone else, is the promise of ultimate salvation when Jesus returns.
Note: It would be like the teacher in the example above saying, “You may fail another test between now and the end of the term, but I can assure you that you will receive an A grade.” That, my friends, is salvation by grace.
Jesus does not excuse sin or even ignorance, but he extends grace by paying for the consequences himself. This is the gospel in simple terms, which are the only terms in which the gospel speaks.
Do you need the slate of your past wiped clean? Are you in need of refreshment? Would you like to live life to the full, without carrying all the baggage of anxiety? If so, I have some very good news for you. Jesus stands ready to receive you and give you all these things. You don’t need to do anything to earn it or pay it back. All you need to do is repent, which is another way of saying, “Own your stuff. Start fresh with God.” The opportunity will not last forever. Seize the moment.
COME HOLY SPIRIT!
The issue is not how good or bad we have been in life. The issue is we are sinners. We have the disease. Have you come to grips with this? Do you see the difference between our nature and our behavior and how we must be saved from our sinful nature if we ever hope for our behavior to change?
For the Awakening,
P.S. Note all the storytelling going on in today’s text. The gospel cannot be reduced to a pamphlet with four propositional truths and a prayer. The gospel is the dramatic and miraculous resolution of the long epic story of God’s broken relationship with all of Creation. To preach the gospel in this instance, he locates us in the story of Abraham, Moses, Samuel and the Prophets—all in a mere nine verses.