Sermon: The God of Great Grace Acts 3:11-26

The God of Great Grace

Acts 3:11-26

Introduction

This passage is basically Peter’s explanation of what the healing of the lame man means.  Remember from last week, the man lame from birth who was healed as he exercised his God-given faith in Jesus Christ.  He leaps up in fulfillment of Isaiah 35, which speaks about in the Last Days when the lame man will leap like a deer.  Now we pick up the story as Peter, John, and the healed man enter the Temple and are standing at the section know as Solomon’s Portico.

Notice with me the similarities between this explanation/sermon and Peter’s first sermon on the day of Pentecost.

Notice also, God’s greatness in offering forgiveness to those who murdered His Son.

Finally, notice how Peter explains that all the OT Prophets spoke about Jesus.

Primary Claim of the Text

By faith, which comes through Jesus, we believe and are saved.

Human Condition Met By the Text

God is not like men.  He is entirely different.  If God were like people, there is absolutely no way He would offer those who murdered His Son forgiveness for the very crime of killing Jesus.

We too must remember that God is not like us.  He is the God of great and infinite grace.

Hosea 11:9 (ESV)
9 I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.
So it is that all mankind from the vilest sinner to the nicest sinner can be saved but it will be on God’s terms.  Each and every human must recon with one thing.  We each had a part in the murder of Jesus.  Our sin was why He went to the cross.  Each person must also give an account to God.  Will we accept and love and trust God’s Son Jesus Christ or will we reject Jesus, as it were, and cry out for Barabbas?  Everything hinges on Christ.

Acts 3:11-26 (ESV)
11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s.
12 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?
13 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.
14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,
15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.
16 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.
17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.
18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.
19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,
20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,
21 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.
22 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.
23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’
24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.
25 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.’
26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

1. Peter’s Explanation

A. Don’t think we healed this man

11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s.
12 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?

It is important that we notice how quickly Peter refutes the idea that it was somehow by his power and piety this man was healed.  Peter wants there to be no mistake here, Jesus healed this man just as surely as if He said the words and took him by the hand Himself.

There was a mad dash to Peter and John, as if to honor them or even in some ways worship them.  They were very quick to deny having anything to do really with this miracle.  This should remind us of verses that declare God is very serious about His glory.
Isaiah 42:8 (ESV)
8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
Isaiah 48:11 (ESV)
11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.
We’ve been reading about Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Daniel who thought that he was responsible for the great City of Babylon.  He was taking credit for something God did.  Or we could look at King Herod.

Acts 12:21-23 (ESV)
21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them.
22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!”
23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.

Peter and John understand and they will not take credit for something that God has done.
What’s interesting, and we’ll get to this text in the months ahead, Lord willing, is when Paul is part of a very similar healing.
Acts 14:8-15 (ESV)
8 Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked.
9 He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well,
10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking.
11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!”
12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.
13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out,
15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.

We too must be very careful to give God credit for everything.  If you are in some way talented or gifted or have certain skills don’t you ever act like it’s you.  God gave that gift to you, to be used for His glory not so people will applaud you but praise God.

The scene is one of amazement, as everyone knew who this man was.  Unlike on the Day of Pentecost, there were no skeptics here.  Everyone saw this man and had seen him before.  Make no mistake, this man was lame and now he is walking.  Luke reports for us that the people, who were in and around the Temple were, utterly astounded.  It is in this split second, this moment in time when the people begin to gather around Peter, he begins to preach the Gospel to them.

They had entered the Temple and the man who was healed followed them.  Probably, he had never been inside the Temple before.  All who were maimed, sick, or deformed were forbidden entrance into the Temple.  So, this man in his excitement follows close behind Peter and John.  Now the place where this happened was Solomon’s Portico or colonnade.

B. You Let a murderer live and murdered the Author of Life
13 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.
14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,
15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.

Peter shows those who are listening that the God he refers to is the God they have already been introduced to by the prophets.  He is the God of their ancestors.  Again the stress, like in Chapter 2 is that God was for Jesus, exalted Him and glorified Him.  While God was glorifying Him, they were murdering Him.

Even when the pagan Governor Pilate wanted to release Jesus, because he could find no fault in Him, they called out all the louder, crucify Him!
Peter is very precise when he uses the title, Author of life…
This word, archegos in context means, God had sent Jesus Christ to them specifically to give them eternal life.  He came to seek out and rescue those who were perishing and they murdered Him.  Can you see the seriousness of their crime?  The very One sent by God to save them was murdered by them.
To further solidify their guilt, Peter adds,  God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.  We can testify and so can many other, Jesus Christ, whom you murdered, God raised from the dead.  Again, we see how they are showing themselves to be enemies of God by killing His only Son.

C. Believe me, Jesus healed this man
16 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, restates the point of his sermon.  We could call this his truth taught…

By faith which comes through Jesus, this man believes and is healthy.

They are all witnesses to the healing power of Jesus because they all see and recognize the man standing before them.  He used to lie outside on his mat, but now he is welcomed into the Temple and is standing with them.  No skeptics here, only those who wonder when God will pass judgment upon them for their crime committed against His only Son.

2. Peter’s Exhortation

A. The Unfathomable Greatness of God!

17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.
18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.
19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,
20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,
21 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.

Even though they murdered God’s Son.  Even though they are 100% guilty and awaiting prosecution.  Even though pagan Romans saw the innocence of God’s Son and they denied it.  Even though they went out of their way to lay hold of Jesus.  Even though they beat and crucified God’s Son…He is offering them salvation through turning from their sin in repentance.
It is true, they were acting in ignorance in the sense of what God was orchestrating but they were not ignorant of their actions.  They knew what they were doing and they are all guilty.  Their hands are dripping with divine blood.
Up against the backdrop of their wickedness is God’s pure white holiness.  When they chose deceit and murder, He still holds out the offer of life.  We must understand, with great offers of grace come great threats of judgment.  To refuse the Son of God is to seal your fate forever as God’s enemy.
We should note here that Peter does not point them to the sacrificial system in the Temple as a means of blotting out sin.  Now, all repentance and forgiveness comes through Jesus Christ, God’s Lamb.  The sacrificial system is now obsolete, null and void because what it pointed to is here, namely, Jesus Christ.
We also should note that Peter does not say as he did earlier, repent and be baptized for the remission of sin, but simply repent again showing the emphasis on everyone repenting in order to receive God’s mercy.
His point is, they had foolishly rejected the Messiah and killed Him.  Now, God offers them another opportunity to come to Him through His Son Jesus, the Messiah.  This is God going the extra mile far more than sinful mankind deserves.  Here we see the greatness and majesty of God.
God’s offer, through Peter, shows that the Last Days are present.  This is a new offer.  In other words it does not come through OT sacrifices, which merely covered over sin.  This offer is that through Jesus the Messiah, their sins are wiped away or blotted out.  This has Last Days significance to it.  Things are different now.  Jesus came, died, and is currently in heaven working through His Apostles and salvation comes only through Him.
In God’s goodness, He heals a lame beggar so that the very people who crucified His Son could be saved and made into the people His Son will receive as His inheritance.  Verses 21-22 speak of the second coming of Christ…when He comes everything will be restored.  For now, the plea of Peter and John is that those listening would repent and trust Jesus, their Messiah and be saved.

B. Hear the prophets and be blessed
22 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.
23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’
24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.
25 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.’
26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

Here, like in Chapter 2, Peter goes back to the Bible to add even more proof.  If it weren’t enough that this man whom they know as the man who used to beg in front of the Temple gate and is now standing and healed…and if it weren’t enough that many of them realize the truth, that God sent Jesus to heal them and they killed Him.  And if it weren’t enough that many of them now know that Jesus did rise from the grave, and if it weren’t enough that this former lame man is praising God and declaring that his healing came from Jesus…

Peter opens up the Bible and proves from the Scriptures that Jesus is the key focus of the Bible.
***Moses spoke about Jesus…Deut. 18:15 & 19…Lev. 23:29

22 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.
23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’
Like Moses was to Israel during the Exodus, Jesus will be to this generation…a Prophet like Moses.  Now comes the moment of truth for those who are listening.  Moses prophesied that God would raise up a Prophet like him.  Peter tells us that the Prophet Moses foretold of is Jesus.   For Moses and all the prophets, Jesus would be a future fulfillment.  The time period for Moses’ prophecies are from his day until they are fulfilled, namely, Jesus’ day or first coming.  Once they are fulfilled, once Jesus came then Moses’ predictions are completed and human history enters the next phase of redemptive history, the last days.

***All the Prophets also prophesied about Jesus.

24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days.
Again, when their prophecies are fulfilled, human history enters into the Last Days…these days.

Then Peter explains that his hearers are the ones who should be receiving these eternal blessings first and foremost…

25 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.’
All the nations will be blessed, starting with the nation of Israel…

Please understand, their eternal future hinges upon what they do with Jesus.  Jesus is the fulfillment of all that the prophets spoke of and it is through Jesus that the covenant, the Abrahamic promise will now transfer to them and other generations.

If they are to prove themselves to be the true Israel, they will embrace their risen Messiah.  If not, the wrath of God will remain on them.

Even though they were the ones directly responsible for the death of God’s Son, to keep in step with His covenant, God sent them the first Apostles and preachers.

26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

God raised up the Prophet Moses spoke of.  Sent this Prophet to His people Israel first.  They rejected and crucified Him.  Even still, God sends Jesus’ followers to announce the Good News that their sins can be forgiven but they must come to God through His Son.

Will they listen?  Will they repent?

Come back next week and see.

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of great grace.  The offer Peter spoke of to the crowd that day is the same offer made today.  In the name of Jesus Christ, repent.

By faith, which comes through Jesus, we believe and are saved.

One big mistake that most make is to say I have already done that so this sermon is for the person over there who has not exercised faith in Christ.  We must always be hearing the Gospel and always trusting in Christ.  This is a daily event.  We must continually be trusting in Christ and continually repenting of our sin.  This is how we have assurance and this is how we grow in grace.

 

 

 

 

 

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