The Gospel: Devotional Commentary for June 6-12
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
And Peter continued to speak to the people.
17Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers.
18But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.
19Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
20and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,
21Whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
22For Moses truly said to the fathers, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you.
23And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.'
24Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.
25You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, "And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'
26To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities."
After strongly rebuking the Jewish authorities and the crowd gathered with him for their part in the execution of Jesus of Nazareth, Peter continued his address with a more conciliatory tone. He acknowledged that both the people and their rulers did not know what they were doing and why. However, the people's hatred toward Jesus was deliberate, passionate, and evil. They did what they did intentionally. But they did not know the divine Purpose behind their murderous disposition and wicked actions.
After holding the people accountable for their rebellion and ungodliness, Peter drew the attention of the people toward the hope they could have in the Son of God. He explained the sure way to true freedom through the One Whom they hated, persecuted, and killed. Even though they were driven by intense animosity, their hostile ill will toward Jesus was instrumental in fulfilling God's plan of redemption. Their murderous disposition and wicked actions were God's means by which the Lamb of God was put on the Cross at Calvary.
Peter's statement was a reiteration of what the Scriptures already affirm about Jesus' sufferings at the hands of wicked men, His ultimate death, and Resurrection. That is not new information to the people. The Prophets, the Psalms, and the Law should be familiar to them. What the Prophets said could not be strange to their ears.
But Peter's reference to the Prophets was not vindictive or condemnatory. He urged the people to repent and receive redemption from God through His Son Whom they persecuted and killed. He admonished them to turn to Christ and have their sins removed so they would be ready to meet Jesus when He returns to restore His Kingdom.
Peter urged the people to look to Jesus for their salvation even though He was not physically with them. God sent Jesus back to earth in the Person of the Holy Spirit while Jesus Himself physically remains seated on His Throne in heaven until the time of His Second Coming. Peter assured the people that this Jesus Who healed the crippled man in their presence is also offering them salvation, if they would repent of their sins and accept Him as the Messiah Who came to earth to save the lost, according to the Prophets, the Psalms, and the Law.
Peter was candid and persistent with the people. He reminded them what Moses, Samuel, and other prophets said about Jesus, the coming Messiah. Moses told the children of Israel that God will raise up a Prophet like him from among them and that they ought to listen to Him. Those who listen to the Prophet and obey His Words will be safe. But those who disregard His Words will perish.
That prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus came as a humble baby to do His Father's Will: to preach the Gospel to the poor, and to save the lost. Peter reminded the people that what the Prophets told their forefathers was now fulfilled in their presence. The prophets spoke about Jesus, His Sufferings, Death, Burial, and Resurrection. They foretold of His glorious return and the Great and awesome Day of the Lord. Instead of condemning them for their evil deeds against Jesus, Peter offered the people new life in Jesus Christ.
Peter was conscious of the people he was addressing. He reminded them that they are the children of God's covenant with Abraham. They are God's chosen people. Abraham and the Prophets were their forefathers. They should remember their words and heed all the precepts declared in those spoken words and prophecies, including those relating to Jesus.
God told Abraham that by his Seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed. And Paul explained that the Seed Who descended from Abraham is Jesus Christ, the Jesus Who healed the crippled man and the same Jesus Whom the people and the Jewish authorities persecuted and killed. It is the same Jesus Whom God raised from the dead and has Him seated on the Throne in heaven at His right hand. It is still the same Jesus by Whom the lost are saved.
Peter assured the people that God's favor still rested upon them. God sent the risen Jesus to them first, in the Person of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost. They were the first to hear Jesus' Words: "it is finished". They were the first to hear the good news of Christ’s resurrection. They were the first to receive the invitation to repentance. They were the first to witness the exuberance of Pentecost.
Paul affirmed this enduring truth in His letter to the Romans: "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek," that is, Gentiles. So Peter concluded his message by urging the people to repent and accept Jesus as the Messiah Who was sent by God to deliver them from eternal damnation. He earnestly exhorted them to respond to God's Grace.
We just concluded our journey through Peter's second sermon in the book of Acts. Both sermons provide the best example of biblical preaching. His focus is Jesus the Christ and what God has done for us through Him. God redeemed the lost out of His just judgment through His Son's finished work. That is the Gospel message.
Peter clearly delineates man's need for deliverance and God's redemption offered by Grace through faith. Man is lost in sin, hence God's judgment. But God is gracious, hence forgiveness and redemption through His Son. Evil is intense and destructive. But God's Grace is infinite and His Mercy is boundless. Evil hates and kills. But love gives life, regenerates, and restores.
Peter calls the people to come and receive forgiveness and restoration. He encourages them to overcome the evil in them and come to Christ. He urges them to come with all their burdens and receive rest from God through Jesus Christ. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the Good News that Jesus preached to the lost and to those who persecuted Him. This is the true and unadulterated message calling to life those who are dead in sin, and to light those who are treading in darkness.
Certainly, Peter and the entire Scripture set an impeccable example of biblical proclamation of the Gospel. Sadly however, our churches have been turning into institutions of religious pride, embarking on a self-assigned exclusive mission of nurturing establishments that cater to organizational activities which result in the crippling of the proclamation of the clear and unvarnished truth of the Gospel. Institutions and organizations are good when they genuinely and exclusively serve God and His Purposes alone. But when they become the end of all Christian objectives, the Body of Christ continues to plunge into lethargy and spiritual ineptitude.
The Gospel is simple and clear. Man is lost in sin. The only remedy is Redemption. God has judged sin. But He placed His judgment for sin on His Son Jesus and granted redemption for those who would respond by accepting the substitution.
So Peter calls the people to repent and accept Jesus as the Messiah Who was sent by God. Likewise, the Body of Christ should be fully focused on calling the lost to repentance. We must continue to faithfully declare the Gospel which breathes life into the lost souls of men and women. Whatever our individual vocation or walk of life might be, that is the Gospel, and that is the calling of the Christian.