Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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The ACTS Files – Repent therefore and turn back that your sins may be blotted out – Acts 3:17-26

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The ACTS Files – Repent therefore and turn back that your sins may be blotted out – Acts 3:17-26 – 05/09/2016

Acts 3:17 (ESV) “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.”

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article looks at an account where Peter and John went to pray and God used them in a mighty way. My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in chapter three verse seventeen…

V17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.

We come into this sermon midway through (beginning is at the following link) and Peter acknowledges that the order to kill Jesus by crucifixion was done without the knowledge of God’s eternal plan to redeem mankind. Peter explains this because although they are guilty of the blood of Jesus and they are guilty through their sin nature, God used that sin nature to achieve his will in this situation. The ignorance was taken into account but it still was sin.

V18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.

Despite their motives to get rid of Jesus it was all done that prophecy may be fulfilled and despite the best efforts of them as individuals they could not stop God and stop the will and plan of God. Christ, even in his sufferings fulfilled what was written of old about him.

V19 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.

Peter makes a call to repentance here and that is one of the things I love about many of the good pastors I listen to is that despite where the core verse in the bible they are teaching that they always come back to Jesus and repenting of your sins and the core tenants of the gospel message. Peter also does this and I think that is important because you may always get someone who has never heard the gospel listening to you for the first time and it is important that everything circles back to Jesus.

Peter repeats the call to repentance that he made in Acts 2:38 and calls them to take a u turn in their thinking and as Christians we all understand that because when I reflect on where I was, say 10 years ago then I fully understand about a Holy Spirit changed life. Repentance is not a bad thing because in Christ we have an assured hope that we did not have without Him. Peter is also asking that they be converted to follow Jesus to become that new creation and take advantage of God’s grace so their sins could be blotted out, erased and wiped off any record of our offense to God. What a glorious free gift this Salvation through Christ is!

Jesus will come back and rule the earth in the perfect form of monarchy and righteousness, if you are bummed about your choices for First Minister/President/Prime Minister (delete as appropriate) please be assured that a king is coming who is a glorious king who will have a 100% approval rating and will reign is grace honor and truth. That will be a time of refreshing and Peter goes as far as to say that if the nation repents then God would send Jesus Christ but until then Jesus will remain at the right hand of the Father until the restoration of all things. That Jesus would return and Eden’s curse would be lifted for evermore. This world will continue to get worse until that happens.

V22 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.’

Peter quotes Deuteronomy 18 which states the following…

Deuteronomy 18:15 (ESV) The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

And Peter was sure speaking their language because they delighted in their knowledge of the scriptures and loved to boast in the facts they knew of God, that danger is still there today as we become more “fact aware” about the bible and not allow it to permeate our heart. Peter ties in “the prophet” as being the Messiah Jesus Christ that they should indeed listen to and follow. Peter also advises verse 19 was unfolding before their very eyes and was a stark warning to the people at that time. It is true that those who reject Jesus whether they be Jew or Gentile would suffer the same fate.

V24 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.’

The message was consistent through all of the prophets that there would be a Messiah and as sons of the prophets they should have known better as descendants of their spiritual father Abraham that was promised in the book of Genesis and this alone was a real faith tester because Abraham wasn’t much change off of 100 years old and had no kids at that point. His wife was also well advanced in age and if that happened today it would be worldwide news.

If we look at the genealogies in the gospels you will see that the messiah came from the line of ABRAHAM! He was there to bless ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE WORLD. Yes us Gentiles too! First the Jews but also the adopted or grafted in branches to that natural root and that is why I have biblical reasons to doubt a replacement theology position because if we were the replacement to the natural root then the plant itself would not stand as there would be no foundation.

V26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.

And Peter confirms what I just said that Jesus was sent to the Jews first, to the ones who should have known better but the ones who reject the messiah will open the door by extension to the Gentile nations. Christ is a blessing and is an extension of God’s desire to bless his creation but he also desires first and foremost an intimacy with his creation and we have to be reconciled to God and trusting in Jesus to save you from your sins, the same is true for you dear reader today. I desire to see you as a dear brother or sister in heaven today and if you have not made that commitment then I desire that you do so because “now is the accepted time, today is God’s day of Salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter four verses one through twelve when we see the reaction of the captain of the temple and the Sadducees to what was preached that day. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:42-47 – Devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers

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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:42-47 – Devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers – 03/28/2016

Acts 2:42 (ESV) And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article is the new believer’s response to “Peter’s Sermon”. We see here how the church started and look at lessons we could use today. My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in verse forty two…

V42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

After 3000 were added to their number we learn something really dynamic about this new and fledgling church and that was that they were not just about the Pentecost experience. They devoted themselves to teaching and desired to know more. They were keen to know all about this messiah Jesus and searched out the information, they were single minded in their devotion to seek out the truth of God from the apostles teachings and doctrine. This is paramount in the spiritual maturity and development of the new church that they get their doctrinal ducks in a row. That they be unified in a common faith and nail the basics from day one. That way they can avoid contentious arguments.

Not content with that basic fundamental, but they continued in fellowship, they invested in one another in a real way that we just don’t get in the Western church. In the Bible study I started under the direction of God I instituted a safe place where people could be real, not polished with a “Sunday smile” Much like a recent article (link) that I did talking about the comfort of God and the need for us in fellowship to be comforting one another and bearing one another’s burdens (another article in Galatians) and so fulfilling the law of Christ, see the full text in Galatians 6:2

Galatians 6:2 (ESV) Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I get all of my best ideas from the Bible! I want to see that idea replicated in our churches that we are real, that we are honest at where we are even if it sets us back in our ministry goal. Imagine the power that could be unleashed if we are proactively praying for the burdens that we do not know about. If you believe in the power of prayer and restoration then what is stopping you? If you don’t trust your church leadership then maybe it is time to reconsider going to that church.

And lastly, they broke bread and prayed together like a real family. Do you have any idea what an honor it is to be invited to dine at another’s table? The Greek word “koinonia” means participation, communion, fellowship, harmony and sharing in a common bond. Is that the type of association you are looking for in your church? Let me tell you that it starts with you! Yes it would be beneficial if the leadership of the church bought into it but if you set the example then that may be enough to start a change of culture in your fellowship.
They broke bread and prayed, with that common bond they also shared a common faith and when the people of God came together they were strengthened by prayer and for me that is a non-negotiable in any fellowship that I wish to participate in that prayer is important. They had such a strong foundation even though this was the first draft of the church, how simpler our lives would be if we followed this basic formula for church planting!

V43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.

After all of the foundations were laid for a dynamic work of God it is hardly surprising that God blessed it! Often times we will try to push things along in our own speed and wonder why it is not what we thought it would be. How often do we cover it in prayer in the belief that God can handle this and leave the results up to God?

The evidence is in the reaction that awe (or fear) came upon every soul, a true conviction of the wrongdoing of man and a genuine repentance and also many signs and wonders were done and what tangible evidence of the blessing and power of God!

V44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

How I long for that in any fellowship I attend! They showed hospitality, served one another and looked for commonality in the fellowship they shared. Many of these new believers traveled to get to Jerusalem so the inhabitants would have shared their space and much more as we read below…

V45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Would you do that for your fellow believers? Sell your prized possessions for Jesus? Is there something you wouldn’t give up for Jesus? Maybe something you might want to look at there. I am of course not asking you to sell your stuff for Jesus but look at the change in people’s lives that helping their fellow brothers and sisters in the faith was better than having some expensive trinket in their house. Jesus was evidently number one in these people’s lives because their actions were fruit of their beliefs.

Some may equate this to an early form of Communism but in my view it cannot be described like that because it was something that was undertaken by the individual believer and was voluntary as we don’t see the apostles or leaders telling them to do so and we will see in Acts 5 what happens when some folks decided to fake benevolence on a grand level.

V46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Some people might be uncomfortable with this level of interaction but I love this idea. They were all singing from the same sheet, they realized that they were meant to be together, the early church did life together and it wasn’t what we are used to with only having a weekly interaction, so much more can be achieved in growth, in reality and in that common bond. They lived together, worshipped together, ate together and had great joy together. Sounds great huh?

For those of you who poo poo the idea and state “that could never work in today’s society” I am here to tell you that it can. I was part of a missions plant church in Glasgow that promoted these very ideals and it came from the Pastor down to the newest person in the church where if you wanted this level of involvement you could literally go through the week and fellowship all week if you wished. It got to the stage that we were bummed if we went more than 3 days without seeing someone from church. That was in 2007 not 37 AD!

You will also notice that those who received from others abundance received with “glad and generous hearts” and we observe that there was no drama from either the ones who gave or the ones who received. There appears to be no “lording it over” a fellow believer those who had more than others and the ones who required assistance praised God for having favor on all the people. We see no-one starving because the command to “love one another” was played out beautifully and literally in this new church blueprint.

God added to the number daily, what is important not that he added to the physical numbers but he added to the maturity of the believers also. What was not to like about this church? They looked after their own, they had a common bond and they loved one another. They had their doctrinal ducks in a row, they fellowshipped and they covered everything in prayer. If I ever set up a church plant I know this would be the formula that I would want to use and follow the will of God and leave the results up to him!

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter three verses one through ten where Peter and John encounter a lame man on their way to prayer. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG