Saturday, April 2, 2016, 2:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “All We Like Sheep.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 3:11-26 (ESV).
The Author of Life (vv. 11-16)
While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
Peter had just been instrumental of God in the healing of a man who was lame from birth. The people who witnessed this miraculous healing were filled with “wonder and amazement” at what had just happened to the man. So, the people ran to Peter and John. Peter then took this opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people. Peter explained that it was not by human power or piety that this man was healed, but it was by faith in the name of Jesus Christ that he was made completely well.
So, who is this Jesus? Peter used several terms or phrases to describe who Jesus was and is. He is a servant of God (the Father). He is the “Holy and Righteous One.” He is the “Author of life.” He is the Christ of whom the prophets of old foretold of his coming and of his suffering and death for the sins of the world. He is the Christ appointed for us who will one day come again to restore all things. He is a prophet of the Lord God. And, he is the promised seed of Abraham through whom all the nations of the world will be blessed.
Yet, what does all that mean? Jesus was perfect in nature, pure, and innocent of the charges that stood against him. He was the only man to walk this earth who never sinned. They crucified not only an innocent man, but one who had never done any wrong. He did only what was good and just. As well, Jesus was the originator (creator) of life. But, how can that be? It is because he is also God the Son, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He was with God in the beginning and he is God. All things were created through him (See: Jn. 1:1-18).
Jesus is the Christ, our Messiah, the promised King of Israel, and our deliverer from sin. He speaks the very words of God because he is God, and because he is a spokesman (prophet) for God the Father, to whom he is in full submission. When he came to earth, he came to serve God the Father and humankind. Because of his sacrificial death on the cross for our sins, and his resurrection back to life, in conquering sin, hell and Satan, the people of this world can now be delivered out of slavery to sin, and can be given new lives in Christ to be lived out in the power of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Amen!
Repent and Turn Back (vv. 17-26)
“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
Because of what Jesus Christ did for us in dying on the cross, taking upon himself the sins of the entire world, thus putting our sins to death with him, we are to forsake our lives of sin, and we are to turn to God to follow (obey) him with our lives. Although the word “repent” literally means “a change of mind,” it is nearly exclusively used in scripture in reference to humbling ourselves before God in the forsaking our sins and our idols to follow God with our lives, living and walking in his purity and righteousness. We cannot do this in our own flesh, though. This is the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives which we agree to and cooperate with when we believe on Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives.
There are many people today, though, who will try to convince you that you do not have to repent of (turn from) your sins, and that you do not have to obey God, but that you can still be saved and have the promise of heaven when you die. They ignore the fact that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15). They must not believe the teachings of Christ and those of his NT apostles who taught death to sin and living to righteousness as evidence that we have truly been regenerated of the Spirit of God (See: Luke 9:23-25; John 6:35-66; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24).
They will teach you that God’s grace to you means all your sins are forgiven, and heaven is guaranteed, so it doesn’t matter what you do from this point on. But, that is not what scripture teaches. God’s grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). The Word of God teaches that if we continue living in sin, walking according to our sinful flesh, we don’t know God, and we will die in our sins (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 3:6-9). Yet, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (Ro. 8:13).
Jesus said that his sheep (his followers) know his voice, they listen to him, and they follow (obey) him (Jn. 10:27-30). According to the words of Peter here, in this passage in Acts 3, we must listen to our Lord in whatever he tells us. If we don’t listen, we will be destroyed. Implied here is that “listening” involves much more than just hearing his words with our physical ears. To listen to his words means to attend to them; to heed them. It means to pay close attention and to take note of what he says, and to do (follow) what he says to do. Jesus said that if we love him, we will obey his teachings. As well, we know that we have come to know Jesus/God when we keep his commands (Jn. 14:23-24; 1 John 2:3-6).
Jesus was sent by the Father to us to “bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” This is why Jesus died, not just so we can escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die, but so we would die with Christ to sin and be raised with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). So, turn from your sins today, and obey Jesus Christ with your life. Your life depends on it.
All We Like Sheep / Don Moen
O Lord show us
Your mercy and grace
Take us to Your holy place
Forgive our sin
And heal our land
We long to live
In Your presence