The Book of Acts (Chapter 3:11-26) (Part 8)
No one could deny that a miracle of healing had occurred. The religious leaders were astounded and the people amazed at what had happened. Jewish people are always impressed by miraculous signs as it is in their history as recorded in the Old Testament. Furthermore, in the Old Testament the prophets themselves worked miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Jewish leaders and those who understood the Old Testament scriptures knew that supernatural power would accompany the Messiah when He came. Every prophet in the Old Testament in some aspect of his ministry typified the ministry of the Messiah to come. Remember that Elijah and Elisha both worked miracles and deeds of power including resurrecting someone from the dead. Now through the Apostles Peter and John the ministry of the Lord Jesus was continuing through these men. Their ministry was so powerful and effective that it caused the people to run towards them. For many in that crowd they most probably wanted to see Peter put on another show as it were but Peter did not buy into this sudden burst of enthusiasm and fervour at what had happened. And so we read…
(Vs.11-12) “While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?”
People will always want to see a show. They will always flock to a stadium to see signs, miracles and wonders. Inevitably they want to see a performance that will titillate their emotional antennas. They were often like this with the Lord Jesus who knew what was in man and He refused to put on a show or a performance. He would never dance to their tune or as Matthew writes; “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance” (Matthew 11:17) He was unlike many today who want to put on a spectacular show to draw the crowds in and doing it all in the name of Jesus.
Today we see everything from blowing on people to waving jackets over people or making people laugh in hysterics to the point where they lose control of their faculties and even punching and kicking people yet claiming it is the work of the Holy Spirit. In these kinds of meetings there is no sound exposition of scripture at all but pop psychology with Bible verses quoted here and there and out of context to prop up their pop psychology. The Lord Jesus and the Apostles were never into this kind of thing at all! They would never dance to the tune of the pipers or sit in the circle of the merrymakers! Peter saw the mood of this changeable crowd who had previously called out for the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus but were now clamouring to uplift this worker of miracles. Peter and John, like the Lord Jesus, knew how fickle and changeable people could be and so Peter was quick to give all of the glory and honour to the Lord Jesus alone and take no credit for what had happened.
This same kind of thing happened to Paul and Barnabas after the Lord had healed a crippled man. The crowd called them gods and wanted to deify them as gods and make sacrifices to them. When Paul and Barnabas heard this they tore their clothes and very quickly ran among the people and giving glory and honour to the LORD. Very soon after this the mood of the crowd changed towards Paul with the help of the religious leaders. Paul was very quick to point out the fact that there was no virtue or piety within them that caused this man to walk. They gave all the glory to the LORD. They did not draw attention to themselves or to their gifts as many do today. They never had healing crusades and the like! So then what did Peter do? He preached another sermon based on the Word of God!
(Vs.13) “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him.”
When the Holy Spirit really fills a man or a woman with God’s power to preach or to witness He always points people to the Lord Jesus Christ, not to Himself and this is precisely what Peter did in his second sermon. Like he did on the Day of Pentecost, Peter drew people’s attention to the Lord Jesus Christ and not to himself. When the Holy Spirit is resting on someone witnessing or preaching self-aggrandisement will not even be on the radar of the person witnessing as their whole focus will be on the Lord Jesus and what He has done for and what He can do for the person they are witnessing to.
When the Lord Jesus is being glorified and uplifted the Holy Spirit will go to work convicting the world of sin, righteousness and judgement. He will always glorify the Lord Jesus and not Himself, or His gifts or those whom through He is working. The blessed Holy Spirit will always lift up the Lord Jesus before men. As Jesus Himself said; “However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me by taking from what is Mine and disclosing it to you. Everything that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said that the Spirit will take from what is Mine and disclose it to you” (John 16:13-15). Once again Peter “went for the jugular!” He aimed his words at the conscience. He told them plainly what they needed to hear!
(Vs.14-15) “But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.”
Peter “pulled no punches” and told them that it was their sin of unbelief in Jesus as their Messiah that caused them to choose a man that dished out death instead of choosing a man that could give life. The Lord Jesus said that this was something the Jews were always prone to do, especially the religious leaders who had been complicit in arranging Jesus’ death. The Lord Jesus had said to them at one time; “I have come in My Father’s name, and you have not received Me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will receive him” (John 5:43) This is what the Jews listening to Peter had done. They had chosen Barabbas instead of Jesus. Years later another one would come in the character of Barabbas called Simon bar Kokhba. Multitudes of Jews believed he was the Messiah but in the end it ended in a blood bath for the Jewish nation. Once again they had chosen the man of death over the man of life.
Many Jewish leaders, rabbis and people will do the same thing when the Antichrist himself arrives in Jerusalem. Having received him they will experience another holocaust and this time only the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus will save the nation from extinction but many will die at the hands of the Antichrist. History will repeat itself. Right now Israel as a nation is not spiritually prepared and will choose a man of death if he can promise them life. This is the pattern of Jewish history. Of course there will also be the faithful ‘Maccabees’ who will see what is happening and warn their brethren. Some will take up arms against the forces of Antichrist and wage a Guerrilla war against him as the Maccabees did with Antiochus Epiphanes. Over the centuries many have come to the Jews claiming to be their Messiah and many have followed them to their own destruction. Nothing has changed.
Today, Israel is once more a nation but they are still choosing others to deliver them rather than the Lord Jesus. If someone came to the leaders of Israel right now with a peace plan or initiative that would supposedly secure a peace with their immediate Islamic neighbours they would go for it regardless of the man’s moral and ethical character or his spiritual beliefs. The Jews of Jesus’ time saw in Him the one to save them from the hands of their Roman overlords but missed the real reason why Jesus had come to them in the first place.
Now Peter not only pointed to the death of Jesus but also to His resurrection. Men must first be shown the Law of God and the fact that they are condemned to an eternal hell because they have failed to keep God’s Laws and commandments and have rejected the Lord Jesus Christ. Once they have understood the Law then they can understand Grace. We will never appreciate God’s mercy and forgiveness until we have seen our wickedness and sinfulness of heart. Once we have seen our totally lost condition will we fly to Him whose blood can cleanse us from the deepest and darkest stains of sin. (1 John 1:7-9)
The sin of those listening to Peter was the sin of unbelief in Jesus as their Saviour, Lord and Messiah. The Lord Jesus had said that this is what the Holy Spirit would do first and foremost when convicting sinners. He said, “And He (the Holy Spirit), when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:8-11).
In the work of salvation the Holy Spirit not only convicts people of their unbelief in the Lord Jesus but also their need of imputed righteousness because they have none of their own but are under the dominion of their sinful nature. At the cross Jesus took upon Himself our sin and gave us His righteousness, a righteousness that is bestowed upon us when we repent and believe in Him who shed His blood to atone for our sins.
Furthermore the Holy Spirits convicts the world about judgement to come. Unbelievers have already been judged and when they stand before the Great White throne will appear for sentencing. There are some who will never repent unless they see and understand the judgement to come. Most unbelievers today do not or in some cases will not accept that they will have to give an account to God for the things they have said and done in this life.
The unsaved who have never understood the Gospel are spiritually blind and ignorant and it is only the blessed Holy Spirit that can remove the veil of unbelief over the eyes of their heart. Once He does this then they have the responsibility to respond. The Holy Spirit will lead men and women to repentance but He will not repent for them. This is their responsibility. Peter continued to uplift the name of the Lord Jesus because He knew that God had placed all authority and power in heaven, on earth and under the earth in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. As scripture says; “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place, and gave Him the name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). And so Peter continued…
(Vs.16) “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.”
Once again we see Peter giving all of the honour and the glory to the Lord Jesus and not to Himself. Peter had faith to see this man healed but confessed openly that the ability to see this man healed had come directly from the Holy Spirit. We can pray for the sick and we should but if you are going to tell a crippled person to come out of a wheelchair then you had better have the faith that it will happen. This assurance can only come from the blessed Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God must be present to heal the sick and drive out demons. This was true of the Lord Jesus’ ministry. We read; “and the power of the LORD was present for Him to heal the sick.” (Luke 5:17b)
We can preach and pray for the sick and drive out demons in Jesus name but if the power and presence of the Holy Spirit is not empowering us then nothing will happen. Today we have a myriad of so called “faith healers’ of one sort or another that can never produce genuine results. They have always been around since the time of Jesus and the Apostles but in these last days are multiplying at a fast rate especially with the unbiblical doctrines of the faith prosperity money preachers “profiteering on the Blood of the Lamb!” Jude calls them; “an accursed breed!”
So then faith in the name of Jesus is necessary for any genuine results but it must be from the Holy Spirit. Any other source will not work. There have been many cases of people who were pronounced ‘healed’ but later died. Now God is sovereign and there have been occasions when people have been genuinely healed but it had nothing to do with ‘the preacher’ as such but everything to do with the sovereign will of the blessed Holy Spirit. There are those within the Body of Messiah who have the gift of healing. The norm in the local fellowship is to call for the elders to pray over and to anoint the sick with oil.
(Vs.17-18) “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.”
The Bible says that the unsaved cannot see the truth because they are spiritually blind. Even the crowd to whom Peter was speaking had a veil over their hearts concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. All of us are spiritually blind until the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual sight and understanding. There are two kinds of spiritual blindness. There is the spiritual blindness of ignorance which afflicts all sinners until they see the light in Jesus. Then there is wilful blindness which in most cases is a feature of religious people. Many of the Pharisees who were complicit in the crucifixion of Jesus were wilfully blind. Many of them saw the prophecies in the Old Testament being literally fulfilled before their very eyes but chose not to see.
The Apostle John writes; “Some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard this, and they asked Him, “Are we blind too?” “If you were blind, Jesus replied, “you would not be guilty of sin. But since you claim you can see,’ your guilt remains” (John 9:40-41). On another occasion He spoke about those Pharisees who rejected Him; “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:12).
Once again Peter pointed the people listening to the Bible. He used the Word of God to reach the hearers. The Word of God is the instrument the Holy Spirit uses to produce faith. (Romans 10:17) If we want to see sinners saved and saints sanctified we need to give them the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. Once Peter had pointed out the truth the crowd listening no longer had an excuse. They were now being held accountable for what they did to the Lord Jesus. Peter told them what to do and what would be the result if they responded to the LORD…
(Vs.19-21) “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.”
There are many today who are caught up with signs, miracles and wonders and are speaking about ‘a refreshing’. We have seen this is the laughing revival, the faith-prosperity camp and in many other fringe Charismatic groups. Things like blowing on people or waving a coat over a congregation and seeing people falling down out of control. Then there is the preachers pushing over those who have come out to the front at the meetings. Others advertise ‘Healing Crusades’ of one sort or another and always promising results. They all speak of a time of ‘refreshing’ when they see people laughing, falling down and writhing on the floor in some kind of hypnotic or euphoric state of mind.
There is a lot of ‘meetings’ happening today where pop psychology laced with Bible verses here and there, usually out of context, are being perpetrated on the Body of Messiah. The Internet and the Christian TV industry are rife with this kind of thing. The refreshing Peter is speaking about here has nothing to do with the extremes we see today by those who quote this passage to justify their unbiblical behaviour and unscriptural manifestations. It has everything to do with repentance and turning back to God.
The times of refreshing spoken of here is the spiritual restoration from the Holy Spirit, a spiritual restoration and renewal that follows repentance. It never precedes repentance! In its context the refreshing is speaking about the salvation of sinners being born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. Peter speaks about “sins being wiped away” and people being prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus. The restoration will come but not until the millennial reign is inaugurated on earth after the Lord Jesus has come back. This is the context. No repentance, no revival, no refreshing! This is the truth of the matter!
In these days we need to be preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom which includes the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone wants to know about the future. Using Biblical Eschatology in witnessing to the unsaved is a very powerful tool in evangelising the lost. We need preaching about repentance, righteousness received through faith alone and coming judgement. Peter quoted Moses because the people he was speaking to were Jewish and many undoubtedly religious at that and regular synagogue attenders. And so he continues…
(Vs.22-23) “Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’”
The problem for unsaved Jews today is not that they do not believe that the Lord Jesus existed, Many do, however the problem is not that they do not believe Jesus but that they do not believe Moses because if they did they would see that the prophet Moses spoke about like himself to come in the future was the Lord Jesus Israel’s Saviour, Lord and Messiah. The Lord Jesus spoke to the religious leaders who had insisted they were disciples of Moses. “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, in whom you have put your hope. If you had believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” (John 5:45-47).
This is the problem with the religious Jews today. They do not really believe Moses in relation to what he said about the Lord Jesus because if they did they would become His disciples. Peter’s preaching was no ‘seeker sensitive, seeker friendly’ sermon as such but a call to repent, to change from a Messiah hating, Messiah rejecting way of life and to a Messiah loving, Messiah accepting way of life! This is at the heart of repentance! When you look at the preaching of the prophets and the Apostles and the Lord Jesus Himself they always emphasised repentance before spiritual renewal and restoration. This is missing in most of the modern day preaching in many churches today in the western democracies. Instead we are plagued with “Purpose Driven,’ ‘Seeker Sensitive,’ ‘The Immerging Church,’ ‘the laughing revival’ or the ‘Lakeland fiasco’ or the ‘faith prosperity money preachers’ on TV to name just a few all plying their trade in the House of the LORD and all at the expense of the sheep! Peter does not stop there but speaks about all of the prophets.
(Vs.24-26) “And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. It is you who are the sons of the prophets and 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.’ For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”
The Lord Jesus Christ is revealed from the book of Genesis all the way through to the book of Revelation. He is the Living Word of God made flesh! The Bible is a revelation of Him. In fact it is all about Him! He is the grand theme in all that the prophets and apostles wrote. If we miss Him then we miss everything! Peter reminds them of the Covenant God made with their forefathers promising them that in their seed would come Israel’s Messiah and their saviour. The religious leaders should have seen this. Some undoubtedly could see this because they were more than well acquainted with the scriptures concerning the Messiah but chose not to see it.
However, the majority of people Peter was addressing were not even saved. They were still in the ignorance of spiritual blindness. He ends his message with an appeal to them to embrace the Lord Jesus so that He, through His Spirit, could bless them by turning them away from their wicked ways. He was more than willing to do this for them as He is for all sinners everywhere in every nation. The only condition is repentance. If you are reading this study and you are still not saved and have never repented you cannot be saved! You can believe in Jesus but unless you first repent you will most certainly perish! God can wipe away your sins and turn you away from wickedness but are you willing to let Him do it for you now?
As it is written; “Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, And saw My works for forty years. “Therefore I was angry with this generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they did not know My ways’; As I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest’” (Hebrews 3:7-11). The only true and lasting rest is found in the Lord Jesus Christ and must always be preceded by repentance. Following repentance there is blessing and true rest in the LORD. The Lord Jesus Himself said; “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened (with the weight of sin), and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28) Will you come?