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Acts #12 (chapter 3:19-26)
The Book of Acts
Confronting the Murderers of Christ, Part 2
Acts 3:12–26
We are looking at the first section of the third chapter of Acts where Peter is preaching to "the men of Israel."  The opportunity to preach was created when a man who was born crippled was healed by Peter outside the Temple in Jerusalem at what was referred to as the Beautiful Gate.
He creates quite a commotion by walking and leaping and praising God.  So much so that the people who are familiar with him want to know what's going on. 
So through this miracle, God draws a crowd together to give Peter the opportunity to talk about Jesus and make sure He receives glory for what is going on. 
His sermon divides into two parts.  First, he talks about the guilt of those who crucified the Lord, and he really lays it on thick.  In just a couple of sentences, he refers to Jesus as the Son of God, the Savior, the Holy One, the Righteous One and the Prince of life, and then declares that the people of Israel had denied Him, delivered Him, and executed Him. 
The very One whom the one true God, the God of of Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob, had glorified, they had killed. He also reminds them after they had done their deed, God raised Him from the dead.  He is alive and it is His power that is on display in this miraculous healing they witnessed.   
Mow, that they were guilty and knew it is not as obvious as with the first sermon where they asked,  “Brethren, what shall we do?”, but it is implied by Peter's statement in
verse 17
Maybe Peter says that to calm them down.  They had just heard the most frightening message their ears had ever heard.  They know they are guilty of killing their long-awaited Messiah.  And now, He's come back to life. 
That’s a frightening reality because if He’s now alive, surely He is going to deal with what they've done!  So this is terrifying reality and having been there himself, Peter wants to very quickly provide a way out of the mess they're in. 
So he acknowledges that what they did was done in ignorance.  And there is where he moves from the guilt to
2.  The Grace
Just as obvious as their guilt is God's grace and the first hint of that grace in this sermon is here in verse 17.  In fact, what Peter says to them is extremely similar to what we hear Jesus saying from the cross when He said, “Father, forgive them; – ” why? “ – they don’t know what they are doing.” 
Now just so we're clear, his reference to their ignorance is not in regard to their intellect, but to their spiritual understanding.  The situation here is very similar to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:6.
 “Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”  Simply put, they were ignorant. 
And here's the good news for all of us:  where there is ignorance, there is the possibility of forgiveness.  That was true of the Old Testament law where the law provided different punishments for premeditated versus unintentional sins. 
It's what the writer of Hebrews had in mind in chapter 10 where he says that if you sin willfully after the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice.  In Acts 17, Paul said to a Gentile audience, while preaching on Mars Hill, “The time of iniquity in the past God overlooked, but now commands all men to repent because He has unveiled His Son.” 
And the principle we find in those passages is that grace is available to the ignorant guilty, and there we find illustration of that as an offer of forgiveness is made to those guilty of the worst crime ever committed. 
Then in verse 18, Peter returns to the idea of the sovereignty of God.
verse 18
He said a similar thing in chapter 2, verse 23
It was sinful.  It was wicked.  It was heinous. But it was ignorant and it was in the plan of God.  And in spite of what they did, in fact, because of what they did, God’s plan was perfectly fulfilled. 
And that's what he's referencing when he talks about the Old Testament prophets.  it is rather ironic, sin't it, that rather than stopping the plan of God, they actually fulfilled the plan of God.  Rather than the death of Jesus disqualifying Him as the Messiah, it is what validated Him as Messiah.  It happened exactly like the prophets said it would!
And then comes a very important word.
verse 19
From that transition, we move from guilt to grace.  “Therefore repent and return.”  Repent!  Turn and go the other way!  Reverse your verdict on Christ.  Reverse your attitude about Him.  .  Reverse the judgment you made on Jesus.  Go the very opposite direction. 
Repent and return. Receive Him as Messiah and the Lord, Savior, Redeemer, Son of God, abandon your false religion and embrace Christ. 
And then, beginning in verse 19, Peter gives them five motivations to repent and come to Christ.  And I'll just give you the list, then take a closer look at them. 
- sin will be forgiven
- the kingdom will come
- Messiah will return
- judgment will be avoided, and
- promises will be realized
So what you have from verse 19 onto the end of this brief sermon are the specific promised God has made to Israel if they will reverse their opinion regarding Christ and follow Him.
1. Sins Will Be Forgiven
Now the Israelites, if they understood nothing else, should have understood God's opinion regarding sin and the high price of forgiveness.
The old Levitical system covered sins up, but it couldn't and didn't remove them.  There was nothing in the old system that could pay the penalty.  All they could do was offer a sacrifice and push things forward for a little while. 
But God had promised there would come a day when He would wipe out their transgressions and remember their sins no more.
So Peter's word are very deliberate and significant.   
When he spoke of their sins being blotted out, he was referencing that very prophecy given through Isaiah.
As Paul said to the Colossians 2:13, the handwriting against us has been wiped out and nailed to the cross.  It has been erased and blotted out and forever removed.
Is that not a motivation to repent?  Why should I turn to Christ?  Because your sins will be wiped away forever.
2.  The Kingdom Will Come
verse 19
What are “times of refreshing”?  Go down a little bit to verse 21 and you’ll notice another phrase there.
verse 21b
These two phrases refer to the coming and promised kingdom.  So follow Peter's thinking:  The Messiah is alive.  He has sent His Holy Spirit.  He has empowered His preachers, and the first thing His preachers say is if you will have the right view of Christ and commit your life to Him, your sins will be forgiven.  And if you do that as a people, if you do that as a nation, the kingdom will come. 
Now there are some people who say there is no future kingdom for Israel.  Then explain to me what Peter is offering them!  And remember, this is said after they killed Christ.  This is after the church has already been brought into existence.
He is talking to the people of Israel and He is saying that the times, the period, the era, the predetermined fixed event of the great kingdom of God will come and it will come from the presence of the Lord. 
It’s not an earthly kingdom.  It’s not orchestrated by men.  It comes from God to us and it is based on the faith of Israel and their Messiah.  And this is a promise to the nation of Israel, even after they have crucified Christ.  If they will repent and return, the kingdom will come.  The long-awaited kingdom with all the promises given to Abraham and David and through the prophets, the golden age they’d all been waiting for and expected the Messiah to bring will come to them from God.
We don't have to time to elaborate on the Kingdom.  Maybe we'll do that soon, but jsut suffice it to say, "It's Coming!"
And obviously, if the kingdom is coming, then, third motivation to repent,
3.  The Messiah Will Return
verse 20
Obviously, there won't be a kingdom without a king.  The promise of millennial blessings cannot come apart from the return of Christ.
So as you look at the future of Israel, in the future they will finally believe.  They’ll look on the one they’ve pierced, mourn for Him as an only son, be cleansed, and the Messiah will come and establish His kingdom. 
Notice, verse 20, talks about the “Jesus Who was preached to You", but i think a better rendering of the thought is "Jesus, the Messiah who was appointed or ordained for you.”  It literally reads as “the having already been appointed Messiah.”
He was preached to be the Messiah by the prophets and John the Baptist and the apostles only because God had alread appointed Him to be the Messiah.  See what I'm saying?  He wasn't the Messiah because He was declared to be so.  He was declared to be so because He was the Messiah. 
And Peter is just reminding this crowd, and us, God has not canceled His promises to Israel.  He was reiterating them right here through the apostles.  And he makes it very clear. 
Notice verse 21
Get the picture?  If you will repent, you will be part of a process decided by God that includes the kingdom coming and Jesus being received as Messiah.  And he's going to remain in heaven until what the prophets said about all of this is fulfilled. 
So repent, turn, follow Christ and do it quickly.  When you do, your sins will be forgiven, the kingdom will come and Messiah will return. 
4.  Judgment Will Be Avoided
verses 22-24
Now remember, we're talking about motivations to repent.  I know of no greater motivation that avoiding the judgment of God!
Notice how Peter frames his comments regarding judgment.  He makes sure to mention that all the prophets, beginning with Samuel, all talked about judgment.
But he points the spotlight on Moses by quoting him and the quote is from  Deuteronomy 18:15 to 19 where Moses says God will raise up for another Prophet like he was. 
Moses was prophesying of a coming Messiah.  He says, “Messiah is coming and He will be a prophet like me. And His message is so critical that not listening to Him will result in destruction.”
The final motivation is
5. The Promised Blessings Will Be Realized
verse 25
It's almost unbelievable!  The crowd Peter addresses that day had denied and crucified their Messiah and yet, they are still referred to as the sons of the prophets and the sons of the covenant.
He doesn’t say “You used to be the sons of the prophets, but you’re canceled out and all the promises are now shifted to the church.” 
He says, "You are, present tense, sons of the prophets.”  You are “sons of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
verse 26
Hear what he's saying?  He's telling them, "The prophesies are still yours!  The covenants are still in effect!   You are still in God’s plan and you will be blessed in the day that He turns every one of you from your wicked ways."  What an encouragement to repent!  Israel, just change your mind and receive forgiveness, and the kingdom, and the king, and deliverance from destruction and all God’s blessings. 
Well, what was the response?  Chapter 4:1-4
What did Paul say?  But where sin did abound, grace did much more abound!"  That’s always the gospel message.  Israel as a nation has not yet believed.  They will in the future.  But in the meantime, every Jew or every Gentile who turns toward Christ and goes after Christ to follow Him receives all these things. 
We have forgiveness of sin.  We are members of the kingdom.  We are cared for, protected, ruled by the king.  We are delivered from destruction and we have inherited all God’s promised blessings.  We’ll all be there in the kingdom and all the blessings of eternity after the kingdom is over.  It’s all for anyone who repents, turns from rejecting Christ to receiving Christ, pursuing Him.
This is still the gospel message.  Nothing has changed.  This is still the message God's send to Israel, but it is also our message to anyone and everyone.  Repent, return, and enter into all that God has provided, first to the Jew, but also to the Gentile. 
Let’s pray.
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