We are beginning our study today in the middle of a sermon by Peter. In the first half of the passage, he accuses the crowd of killing the Messiah, so I am sure that the crowd was perhaps looking for some good news for a switch.
I couldn’t help but call to mind some of the good news and bad news stories that I have heard before.
For instance, a guy is in the hospital with two broken legs. The nurse comes in and tells him that there’s good news and bad news. The guy asks for the bad news first. The nurse says, “We’re going to have to remove your legs.” Then the guy asks for the good news. The nurse says, “The guy beside you wants to buy your sneakers.”
I. First the Bad News…
Let’s look at Acts 3:17-18. If you have been with us, you will remember that Peter is with John on Solomon’s porch in front of a huge audience. While he is speaking to these people, he has a man clinging to him that Peter has just healed in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. The main reason the crowd gathered here was to hear the explanation for how this has happened and why.
The first half of the sermon, as I mentioned last week, was completely filled with bad news for these people. They missed the fact that Jesus was the Messiah, and they put him to death. They are being made to realize the depth of their sin against God.
We can learn a lot in this transition between the really bad news and the really good news.
Lessons to Learn About Jesus’ Death on the Cross…
God sovereignly decreed the death of Christ.
The first of those is that according to Acts 2:23, God sovereignly decreed the death of Christ. Foreknowledge is the Greek word prognosis. When you get a prognosis from a doctor he is telling you ahead of time what to expect. This word comes from some root words —- pro which means ahead of time and gnosko which means to know.
So God not only knew ahead of time that these things would happen, he decreed them. And when God decrees something, it is certain to happen.
The purpose of God was fulfilled in Jesus’ death
In Isaiah chapter 53, a prophecy was made some 700 years before the coming of the Messiah. The Israelites were looking for and hoping for the fulfillment of this prophecy ever since that time. It says,
“Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief when his soul makes an offering for guilt. Isaiah 53:10″
This horrible event, probably the most tragic in human history, where the Lord of Glory was put to death as a completely innocent man, was not only foreknown and sovereignly decreed by God. God accomplished his purposes through it.
Men are responsible for the death of Christ.
The third thing that Peter reveals to the crowd is that even though God decreed it, even though it served God’s eternal purposes, these men were responsible. But that is not the end of the bad news. All those who came after Adam are also responsible for the death of Jesus.
We are born under the curse of sin, and we need a Savior to redeem us from this curse. It became necessary for us to have this Savior after Adam sinned and fell from his original condition. Everyone born of Adam is born under this curse and needs redemption.
It was not in God’s plan merely to punish and humiliate Jesus. The plan was always for redemption of mankind. But man is still responsible for the sin of killing him, as well as for the sin that made it necessary to kill him.
The Gospel is incomplete without this bad news.
Finally, if all you ever had to eat every day for breakfast, dinner, and lunch was cinnamon rolls, you would have no idea how good a cinnamon roll can taste to a healthy eater. When that person gets a cinnamon roll, they truly appreciate it for what it is–mystic nirvana!
In the same way, we must have the bad news of our condition before God, ahead of knowing the remedy for it. If we do not hear that part, then we have no way of appreciating the amazing nature of Grace. We have never tasted the bitter that makes this news so sweet.
We have no way of appreciating the true sinfulness of our sin and the unbelievable lengths to which God went to reach us. The story just very simply is not complete. This is why we must tell the bad news first.
II. Good News – Repent and Be Forgiven!
I can imagine them saying, “Wait, so you are telling me there is a way out of this? You are saying we still have a chance when we stand before God?” I would imagine that most of these men were devout Jews.
They were good men for the most part, so this bad news must have been devastating for them to hear. So to hear the fact that there was a remedy must have been music to their ears.
That is the power of the good news of the gospel message, that we are not left without remedy. God didn’t leave us to perish — he made a way. Acts. 3:19
The Gift of God’s Presence
God has made it clear, all the way through his Word, that he has offered certain gifts to us. The first and main one is his ongoing presence with us.
God would have been completely within his rights as creator to abandon us in our sin and not work with mankind to make a way back to himself. But instead of abandoning us, he drew even closer. He is a God near at hand, and not merely a God that is far away.
That gift is appropriated to us. It is handed down to us through the act of repentance on our part. The word ‘repent’ means to change one’s mind or purpose. It is a change of mind that equals a change of behavior.
There is a two-fold turning that happens in repentance. The first is to turn away from sin. But it also involves turning toward God. Acts 17:30
But the power of the gospel in our day to day lives is such that it doesn’t just end with our first act of repentance and restoration. Every day we get up from our beds, we are being saved–Day by day, moment by moment. This is the gospel’s ongoing power in our lives. We are being kept — we are being held.. I John 2:1
How God Works Repentance in Us
He works this repentance in us in a number of ways.
First, he first prompts it in us through the knowledge of his revealed truth in the Word. John 20:31
Second, God uses sorrow in us to bring about repentance.2 Corinthians 7:10 Judas had a worldly grief for what he did that ended up costing him his life. But he never had a grief that led to repentance.
Third, God uses his goodness and kindness to motivate men to repent. Romans 2:4
Then fourth and finally, God uses fear of final judgment. Acts 17:31
The Good News of the Gospel
In all of this, if we are looking for it, we see the kindness of God, from passing over former sins, to warning us of coming judgment through his Word. In allowing us yet another day on this earth to make our peace with him, God shows that he is a loving caring God.
The good news becomes truly good when we realize the depth of our own sinfulness. It’s even better news when we see the lengths that God had to go to reach us, and the grace that is poured out on us every single day whether we walk with God at the moment or not.
Out of all of the good news that we have told you this morning, if you are a believer in Christ today, that has to be the sweetest news of all. We no longer bear the penalty for our sin. Romans 8:1
A Question of Eschatology?
I really wrestled with this part of the passage this week. The issue I faced is that there are a couple of different ways to interpret these verses. Some see this as an ‘end times’ type of passage, when he speaks about the time for restoring all things.
Whether you believe that it will take place physically on the earth in the future in Jerusalem or you believe that it is here now and growing daily is not the most important point.
So with that realization came the question, “What can I say that will benefit you? What will lift up, encourage, and give the grace that the rest of this message has given?
I think the answer lies more in focusing our attention on the fact that there is a glorious kingdom of God. Whether we are in the last days or the early days of the church will not serve us unless we are prepared to meet him either way.
If you are looking for a kingdom — it is already here. Regardless of how you believe the world is going to end the fact is that this kingdom has a ‘right now’ and a ‘not yet’ aspect to it.
III. The Glorious Promise – A Present and Future Heavenly Kingdom
The ‘Right Now’ Part of This Promise – Christ Reigns!
Now, our tendency in that passage has always been to focus on the instructions that he gave the apostles and disciples gathered there.The great commission is given and we have our marching orders. We should definitely pay attention to that instruction.
But I fear that what he says before that is almost missed entirely sometimes. He says, “Alll authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” There is no authority delegated to anyone else that Jesus has not delegated to them. ALL authority in heaven and on earth are now his.
In my estimation of things, this is where Christ essentially begins to rule as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords–right here. He was seated on his throne, after his resurrection, but he began to rule at this point.
What We Can Learn From This
First, Jesus holds the exclusive keys to the Kingdom of God. Many believe and insist that there is more than one way to God.The fact that all authority has been given to Jesus makes that impossible, because he says of himself that he is the only way to the Father. Acts 4:12
Next, He will make good on His promises to Us. One of those promises is to not only save those who place their trust in him, but to take them to heaven one day with him. He is able to make that promise because he is seated right now in heaven in authority and power. Hebrews 7:25
Finally, Through Him and His Power it is Possible for Us to Live a Victorious Christian Life
But having said that, I want to possibly adjust your thinking on what constitutes a victorious Christian life. Because I know that there may be those who immediately begin to think that the victorious Christian life is the one that is depicted by Facebook or by Christian bloggers, or on other social media.
The reason we can’t seem to manage to look like it is because it doesn’t exist. It is fictitious. People always put their best and brightest moments on the internet for others to see. They don’t put their failures and weaknesses on there.
The ‘Victorious Christian Life’
For many of us, there is always that nagging feeling that we just can’t quite measure up in some fashion. Something is always left undone. We never seem to be able to read our bible enough or pray for long enough. It’s just never enough. How do we reconcile these feelings with the victorious Christian life?
We have to depend on him to even make it through the day sometimes. But when we do depend on Christ, we find that He really is our sufficiency. Salvation comes through no other name, not just on the day you are saved, but every day after that. Victory means we discover where the source of our true strength lies.
Christ’s Return and A Heavenly Home With Him
We have not only the ‘right now’ aspect of Christ’s kingdom, but we have the promise of the ‘not yet’ aspect of it. It’s a glorious vision of a future with our king, and he will conduct us safely home after our journey on this earth.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6
It is going to be magnificent, and not because the surroundings will be so glorious, which they will. Heaven will be wonderful, because the majesty, rule, and authority of the kingdom of Christ is going to be beyond anything we have ever witnessed on this earth!
We are destined to receive an inheritance in a kingdom that is beyond our comprehension. Words really can’t do it justice.
Regardless of Your Eschatology, Jesus is Coming!
However you land on it we have work to do don’t we? Every single soul that comes to Christ brings us that much closer to the day when we see him face to face.
Each day we live on this earth, and struggle to become more like him, is one day closer to the day when we will all be presented as a spotless bride to Christ.
If you have repented and turned toward Christ, you will be one of the the millions who get to hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”