Sermon: The Last Days Acts 2:14-41

The Last Days 

Acts 2:14-41

Introduction

Last week we saw from verses 14-21 of Peter’s sermon that there were two categories of Jews in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost.  There was the category made up of those who heard the disciples speaking in other dialects or languages and praised God in amazement.  Then, there were those who witnessed the same event and deduced that those people are simply in a drunken stupor.  So, there were those who saw God working and glorified God and others who saw God working and opposed that work by their conclusion, they’re just drunk.

Peter will continue fleshing out this truth as look further at his sermon on the Day of Pentecost.  This is the principle that God is doing an amazing work for your good and His glory and they didn’t believe.  Jesus came from the Father and did untold miracles and preached the Kingdom of God and they concluded He is a danger and a imposter.  Again, God was doing an amazing thing and they did not believe.

We also made the connection last week that Joel’s prophecy told about the Holy Spirit being poured out…and Peter said, it is happening as we speak.  We also learned from Joel that he foretold about the amazing work of Jesus…19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
Then Peter immediately refers us to the ministry of Jesus…

22 Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—
Today, I want us to notice a few things in the text:

I want us to see together how those Peter is preaching to have sided with God’s enemies and not with God.  Peter uses to comparisons here we mustn’t miss.

1. The Cross was Pre-Ordained by God and this is proven by the OT passages Peter quotes.

2. God’s Foreknowledge Does NOT Lessen Man’s Guilt

Primary Claim of the Text

God declares sinners guilty for the death of His only Son

Human Condition Met By the Text

The more we understand that God had the cross in full view before the foundation of the world, the more we will trust Him in all things.  If God foreordained the crucifixion of Jesus to save us and if that all worked perfectly according to His plan then we must conclude that everything is foreordained and works out according to God’s plan for His glory and our good.  When it comes to our sovereign God, nothing slips through the cracks or is overlooked.  Beloved, this is an important factor in living our lives.  We can trust God with every small detail and be joyful because we know He is in charge, He is good, and He loves His people.

We also see from this text that God brings about the birth of His New Testament Church through less than desirable people.  Those He could have justly condemned, He pardons.  Those who committed one of the most heinous sins, namely the crucifixion of God’s only Son, were forgiven and have become the Church.

Acts 2:22-41 (ESV)
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—
23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,
31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.
32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.
33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”
41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

1. God Endorsed Jesus

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—
23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,

Peter continues with his second point.  Men of Israel hear these words…and then he delivers the subject of his sermon…Jesus of Nazareth.  Peter is preaching a sermon about Jesus by building on Old Testament texts. His sermon, as every sermon should be, is Christ-centered.  The way in which the Apostles uses the OT shows us that the OT is Christian literature.  It is not primarily Jewish literature.  It is about Jesus.

Peter makes two very crucial statements here in these opening verses.  First, he tells everyone that God endorsed Jesus of Nazareth.

Often, when you’re looking at a book to see if it’s something you want to purchase to read, you turn it over to read the endorsements.  The people on the back will tell you why you should read the book.  If the people on the back are credible then you can trust what they say about the book…

What does it mean that God attested Jesus?  He was endorsed, promoted, put forth, KJV uses approved by God…from the Greek word ἀποδεδειγμένον (apodedeigmenon)

Peter’s point is…God has endorsed Jesus but you have rejected Jesus.  So, because you reject what God accepts or approves, you are not on God’s side, in fact, you are God’s enemy because you killed His Son.

Brothers and sisters do not be mislead by our Media today, they through the name God around quite a bit.  Just because someone uses the name God does not mean that they actually worship, or serve God.  No religion will place a person in right standing with God.  Only Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One attested to us by miracles, signs and wonders could bring any human into a right relationship with God.

When God gives Jesus His endorsement and approval then what God is telling mankind is, I have sanctioned one and only one way in which sinful humans can come to Me and be forgiven of their sin.  Only through My endorsed Son can anyone be saved.

Here is a test…when you hear someone speaking about God listen to see if they ever get around to speaking about Jesus.  That’s the litmus test for truth concerning God.  If they don’t mention Jesus as the way to God or if they deny Christ then they are not presenting the true God and they have come from the evil one…

We are to critique what we hear, who we hear it from.  DO NOT BELIEVE EVERYONE!!

1 John 4:1-3 (ESV)
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

When someone comes to you and starts telling you that God just loves everyone…boom! False teacher.  You get to God your way and I’ll get to God mine…boom! False teacher.

Beloved we absolutely, positively, must at all times judge those who teach about God.  We must.  I want you to be like the Bereans in Paul’s day…

Acts 17:10-11 (ESV)
10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue.
11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

These Jews were eager to learn from Paul, but they did not just accept his word without going home and searching the Scriptures themselves to see if what he said was right.

I remember a conversation I had once with someone who wanted to argue that he was not required to read the Bible but simply rely on what the preacher said.  The pastor gets paid to teach me the Bible, was his argument.

We must never get lazy when it comes to studying the Bible…dig deep and reap eternal life.

Jesus was endorsed by God…Peter’s point, God endorsed Jesus you rejected Him

2. The Cross Was Pre-Ordained by God

23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,

Literally, the text could read, Jesus was handed over to be crucified.  In other words, it was the end for which He came and took on flesh, the time had come for Jesus to complete His God-ordained mission.  This verse also speaks of the fact that it was because of God’s definite plan and foreknowledge that Jesus was delivered to be crucified.

The original language captures the process here.  The verb delivered up is passive and the driving force is the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.  That is the driving force.  God’s plan or decree is the cause of the crucifixion.  He determined that it would happen and it took place as He determined.

Jesus was delivered over by God’s determined plan and, Peter also tells us that it was according to God’s foreknowledge.  The word foreknowledge does not mean that God just knew something beforehand.  Here the Greek word prognosis literally means…Pro-before and Gnosis-knowledge.  In the context it is a determined prior knowledge.  Knowledge of God’s predetermined plan.

3. God’s Foreknowledge Does NOT Lessen Man’s Guilt

you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
We see here some tension.  One the one hand the cross was a determined event decreed by God.  The cross was going to take place.  Yet, God in no way forced evil men to do anything.  They acted out of their own sinful freedom.  They are responsible for their part of the crucifixion.

What’s amazing to me is how today we think that this doctrine is too difficult for people to grasp.  There are folks who have been sitting in churches for decades who have never even heard this before.  Then there are those who have heard it and wrote it off as too difficult to grasp.  This is a difficult doctrine.  God’s determined plan and foreknowledge are concepts that we cannot quite get our minds around.

We must see something here.  This is Peter’s first sermon and he is preaching to lost people who have never heard the Gospel before.  This is an evangelistic sermon and he gives them the undiluted truth in all its glory.  He doesn’t hold back.  Peter’s evangelistic call to repent and call on the name of the Lord has at the foundation God’s decree and foreknowledge.  In other words, He does not say, all you need to is ask Jesus into your heart and pray this prayer with me.  Perhaps, in our modern attempt to make everyone feel good and be comfortable we have drifted away from the realities that the Apostles clearly and boldly proclaimed.  Perhaps the reason we don’t hear of people who are cut to the heart cry and out is because the phrase “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” doesn’t challenge people to consider their sin and is simply not true for people in their lost condition.  The reality is for those who are still in their sin and outside of Christ, God does have a plan for them and it involves complete and utter condemnation in a horrible place called hell where they will endure the wrath of God forever and ever with no relief and no end.

Here again we see a deadly contrast.  Notice what Peter says.  You killed Jesus but God raised Jesus from the dead.  DO you see how this is another way in which Peter shows them that what they did was to kill God’s only Son and what God did was to raise Him from the dead?  These people are God’s enemies and they are guilty of murder.  In the Last Days as Joel tells God will issue white-hot judgment on all who reject His Son…and they killed Him.

They say the disciples who are speaking forth the Gospel in every langue are drunken fools…God’s perfect Son whom He gave His full endorsement was thought of as a joke and treated with contempt…now, they killed God’s only Son and then God raised Him from the dead.  They are completely and clearly shown to be opposing God like no one ever has opposed Him.  They didn’t just ignore God and continue in their sin, the murdered God’s Son because He called them to repent.

4. Old Testament Prophecy Proves God’s Eternal Plan

It would be really easy for Peter to claim that the cross was in God’s determined plan and foreknowledge.  Anyone could make that claim.  But what Peter does next is proves it to them.

Notice what he does…he shows them some of the texts that they were familiar with but in a new light.  He shows them that what they have read and learned from infancy about David and the Psalms is really proof that God had a plan from the beginning and David spoke all about God’s plan.

A. David Foretold the Resurrection of Jesus

25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,
31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.
32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.

Here is Peter’s second OT quote that He says is all about Jesus.  He quotes this as proof that the crucifixion and specifically here, the resurrection were a part of God’s eternal plan to save a people for Himself.

To prove this fact, Peter quotes a portion of Psalm 16.  In this Psalm we understand that King David is explaining the fact that he puts his trust in God.  One quote to sum up this Psalm would come from verse 8 which Peter quotes from…
Psalm 16:8 (ESV)
8 I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Because God is at David’s right hand, He is very close to David and David is not afraid.  David will go on to even write that because God is the One he trusts and because God is ever before him…omniscient, he will trust God even in death.

Peter explains that what David understood in his own live and relationship to God was true for him but he was really acting as a prophet and pointing to Jesus in the future and testifying of the resurrection of Christ.

30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,
31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.
32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.

Paul, referring to this verse explains further…
Acts 13:36-37 (ESV)
36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption,
37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption.

God’s plan of salvation was from eternity and is proven as Peter and Paul explain these verses.

            B. David Foretold Jesus’ Ascension

33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
It was ten days prior to Peter’s sermon that Jesus was taken up into heaven before the watching eyes of His followers.  Everyone that saw it could verify the truth of the matter.  Peter, though wants not only to prove it actually took place, but much like the resurrection, he sets out to prove that the ascension was also part of God’s divine plan decreed in ages past.  He does this by reaching back again into the Psalms and pulls out a portion of Psalm 110…

Peter presents a logical proof…He has already told us that David did not rise from the grave, we still have his tomb among us but Jesus did because His tomb is empty and we are all witnesses to the fact.  He goes on to explain that it was not David who ascended to heaven but Jesus.  Ten days ago they all saw it happen and he also wants everyone to know that 100s of years ago David spoke about it. .. “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
Peter is presenting rock solid truth and verifiable facts.   It happened, we all saw it.  It was part of God’s eternal plan because the Prophets years ago wrote about it.

Not only did they crucify Jesus, but Peter further explains who Jesus is.

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Peter finishes his sermon and draws a logical conclusion…He tells the people listening…Let all of Israel know.

All of Israel…everyone who considered themselves an Israelite had to recognize their part in the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In the Last Days every person must place their trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, Jews and Gentiles alike.  No Israelite, even if they can trace their lineage straight back to Abraham himself, will be saved apart from trusting in Jesus Christ for salvation.

Here we have yet another contrast… God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.

Let Israel know she crucified her Messiah.  For centuries Israelites waited for God to send their Messiah and when He did, they killed Him.

5. The Sinner’s Right Response
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”
41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Luke next writes, 37 Now when they heard this…

They heard the truth about what they initially thought was drunkenness in the disciples.  In reality God is offering an opportunity to be reconciled to Him.  Peter proves that the last days are here, a time of great grace and great judgment.  He proves beyond any doubt that they are responsible for Jesus’ death.  Even when God endorsed Jesus and through Him did all that the Messiah was to do and even when He went all over Palestine healing, caring, and preaching repentance they still murdered Him in cold blood.  There was a mob that came to arrest Him, sham trials, mockery, beatings, spitting at Him, punching Him, abusing Him, and crucifying Him.  They knew that everything Peter said was true.

The truth cut them deep.  But this wound was necessary for reconciliation to take place.
Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Because the evidence against them is irrefutable, they are guilty before God.  Their response is… Brothers, what shall we do?

In this response we see that they understood that there was nothing they could do in their own power to effect any change in God’s guilty verdict.  So, they cry out in terror and seek some possible aid from the Apostles.

When sinners are under the Holy Spirit’s conviction they will not try and reason their way out of their condition.  They won’t say well we’re not all that bad.  Or try to deny their sin.  Here is an example of the Holy Spirit being poured out on the disciples, they have boldness and even as it were on those hearing the message, they see their guilt and cry out for mercy.

Here we also see that it takes a believer to lead an unbeliever to forgiveness through Christ.  They don’t know what to do on their own.

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Peter responds…well, I’ll tell you, you are guilty and there is nothing left now except for God to condemn you to the Lake of Fire forever.  Did he say that?

Repent- This is another place where Jesus’ message and Peter’s line up (And John the Baptist).  The remedy for sin is repentance.

The imperative repent implies that the Jews turn from the evil they have perpetrated, have an intense abhorrence for the sins they committed, experience a complete turnabout of their lives, and adhere to Jesus’ teaching.[1]

Be Baptized- There are those who would tell us that baptism is a precursor to salvation, in other words, you cannot be saved unless you’re baptized.  Often, they use this verse to prove their point.

Is that what Peter means? Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The idea is that everyone who was cut to the heart and was in distress asking what shall we do, was to follow Peter’s remedy.  Be broken and cry out to God in repentance.  At that point, they would receive the Holy Spirit in salvation.  This was the baptism John the Baptist taught about.

The Greek for repentance is in the plural form, meaning Repent every one of you and then on an individual bases, be baptized which is singular.  We see that this is always the order in which the two are spoken of.  Repentance and Baptism are connected in a very real sense but the focus is always on repentance.  Acknowledging one’s guilt before God.  Then concluding that there is not one single thing we could possibly do on our own to remedy the situation, and then relying completely on God’s mercy and trusting Christ alone.

Peter has already instructed all who heard his words to call on the name of the Lord to be saved and part of this calling on the name of the Lord is found in repentance.  Then he tells them, in addition to calling on the name of the Lord, now be baptized in the name of the Lord…in the name of Jesus Christ

True baptism is the outward picture of what Christ has already done on the inside.  In calling on Jesus and repenting we are saved.  We are baptized with the Holy Spirit we are cleansed spiritually.  We are clean.  Our baptism is the outward sign of the inward reality.  We must also see that salvation and baptism are very closely connected in that no true believer should reject being baptized.

The reality here is that through repentance and obedience as seen in baptism these guilty sinners would be given the gift of the Holy Spirit just like the Apostles had.  This is the promise of the Father.  Not only is God willing to forgive them as they now turn from their sin a love Christ, the One they crucified, but their children are also included in the NT covenant.

Through Jesus Christ not only are we saved but through Jesus Christ, our children can also be saved.  The next generation can also be saved through trusting in and loving Christ.

The Last Days are days of great power and great exciting advances in God’s Kingdom.  It begins with faith in Christ, which leads to repentance and obedience.

I pray we all have placed our hope in Jesus Christ the One we crucified.

Christ centered preaching…pointing out sin…and offering the only true remedy…coupled with Holy Spirit conviction…produced a great harvest of 3000 souls.

The Day of Pentecost, the Israelites would offer God the first fruits of the harvest was the perfect day for God to offer His first fruits of the eternal harvest…3000 souls were cut to the heart, believed, repented, and obeyed in baptism…the NT church was born and the world was forever changed.


[1] Acts by Simon Kistemaker page 105

 

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