Heeding the Author of Life (Acts 3:11-26) | Jared Betts

The Purpose of Preaching

Last week we focused our attention upon a lame man who acted as a mirror so that people might ponder the power of the Jesus! Through Peter, God took this man, lame from his mother’s womb, hopeless and incapable of caring for himself, and He defied the natural order of His creation and restored him to perfect health. Peter acted consistently with the will of Christ, on behalf of Christ, and in the power of Christ, and strengthened the legs of this lame man.

We see in our text that while he was clinging to Peter and John, which was no doubt due to sheer excitement over what had occurred to him and not a relapse into his previous condition, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. They were filled with this wonder because they recognized the man as the one lame since birth, who used to sit at the gate everyday begging for charities.[1] They were left in awe because they had witnessed a noteworthy and irrefutable miracle. God had intervened in the natural realm, suspended the natural law, and worked contrary to it for His good pleasure and will.

Peter, seeing the sheer bewilderment upon their faces, humbly calls to their attention that they are mere men. He says:

“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?” 

It was not by virtue of Peter or John’s character, authority, and power that revitalized this man’s lower extremities, but by that of Jesus’ alone. Peter says that God the Father “glorified His servant Jesus.” In other words, through this miraculous act, the Living God manifested the dignity and worth of His Son.

Interestingly, the word for servant can also be translated as son.[2] The Christ promised in the Old Testament was revealed as both a servant and a Son. God speaks of Him through Isaiah saying:

18 Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen;
My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased;
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 “He will not quarrel, nor cry out;
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
20 “A battered reed He will not break off,
And a smoldering wick He will not put out,
Until He leads justice to victory.
21 “And in His name the Gentiles will hope.”[3]

He said through Nathan the prophet to David:

12 When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me.”[4]

He said of Him through the Psalmist:

“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.”[5]

As was said last week, the greatest purpose of this miraculous work was not merely so this man could experience life in his limbs, but so that Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God, would be exulted among the people and proven to possess life in Himself. It was so the people may see that the very One whom they delivered up and disowned, and put to death, had been made alive, and forever lives seated at the right hand of God possessing all power and authority. As Peter says in verse 16:

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.

The perfect health of the man proved the authenticity of the message Peter proceeded to proclaim. It gave credence to the message of life in Christ who lives and reigns forever, which the Apostles which witnesses of.

This is Peter’s second recorded sermon in the book of Acts. Like the first one on Pentecost, we should understand that Luke records for us a synopsis of his sermon. This is evident in the next chapter which describes Peter and John continuing to speak “to the people” and “teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”[6] There were many things that were said, but what we have is just the summation of Peter’s preaching to this crowd.

In our text today we are reminded that true preaching is God exulting, Christ centered, and evangelistically aimed. People are not in need of a higher esteem of self. They need higher esteem for the Living God. The purpose of evangelism is to bring people face to face with the Him, who is clearly explained in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. It is to see people reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus, and the gospel is the only means through which that is accomplished. It is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.[7]

Since it is the sufficient means through which the Spirit of God saves people, we are not to be peddlers of the Word, corrupting it for the sake of gain.[8] We are not to speak, as Paul said, “with flattering speech” wanting to “seek glory from men.”[9] We are not to speak “as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts.”[10] We are to preach as dying men to dying men, and we are not to preach ourselves, but Christ, and Him alone, crucified for sin and risen again.[11] He must increase, and we must decrease.[12]

This is exactly what we see with the Apostle Peter. When all eyes were fixed on him gazing in anticipation, he quickly directs it to God, because the people did not need a former fisherman, they needed the Christ he was an ambassador of. The purpose of the miracle was to validate the message preached, and the purpose of the preaching was to point people to Christ.

As ambassadors of Christ who have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation, we want to consider at least three components that make up Peter’s sermon. Specifically, his dealing with sin and repentance, and his pressing the people to see the necessity of heeding the Author of life. These are all essential components in a gospel presentation. Meaning that if in our attempt at evangelism we do not deal with sin and the requirement of repentance, as well as press upon the minds of others the exclusivity of Christ in salvation and His immanent return to judge the world and save His people, we have not done our job as Jesus’ emissaries.

Seeing Sin, and Loving Christ

Let us begin by looking at the fact that Peter does not shy away from drawing to light the sin of his audience. After he points out to them that the perfect health of the former lame man was due to the Living God glorifying His servant Jesus, he buries the knife saying to them:

“The one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. 14 But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.”

As we recall, Peter did this during his sermon on Pentecost as well:

22 Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”[13]

Peter’s message to this crowd is simple, “God gave His Son. God proved Him to be who He claimed to be, but instead of accepting Him as such, you deliveredHim, you disowned Him, and you put Him to death.

They took the Deliverer God had sent for them and delivered Him over to the power of someone else to do with Him what they will. Not only did they give Him over, but in the presence of Pilate, as Peter says, they disowned the Holy and Righteous One.

The word “Holy” denotes Jesus’ being set apart to God and for Him. It is a Messianic title. We see this in Psalm 16, which depicts the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah saying:

10 For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
11 You will make known to me the path of life.”[14]

In John 6:69, His disciples referred to Him as this saying:

69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

Even the demons referred to Him as this saying:

“What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”[15]

Peter tells them that they rejected their Christ and King who was not only the Holy One, but the Righteous One. In a very broad way, “righteous” means to be upright and virtuous. It speaks of one who is innocent, faultless, and guiltless, and:

“Whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God, and who therefore needs no rectification in the heart or life.”

The fact that Jesus was righteous means that He was completely free from sin. He was innocent and undeserving of death. Pilate himself, the one He was delivered to, repeatedly declared Jesus to be so: “I find no guilt in Him.”[16] “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.”[17] “Take Him yourselves, and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.”[18]

Pilate, therefore, made efforts to release Him, but the Jews manipulated him by playing into his greed for power and prestige. From out of a love for self, injustice was accomplished. John records this for us by saying:

“Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.”

13 Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” 15 So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

16 So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.”[19]

As Peter says, they disowned the Holy and Righteous One, and put to death the Prince of life. This title for Jesus literally means that He is the “Author of life.” He is the source and sustainer of it all. Colossians 1:15-17 says of Jesus that:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

Every breathe we breath is from Him. Every beat of our heart is a result of His sustaining power. He is the Prince of Life!

Pilate gave them the opportunity to release Him, but they asked for the release of a taker of life instead. They hypocritically demanded Barabbas, a murderous man whose name means “Son of a Father”, so that they might put to death the innocent Son of the Father. They took the life of the Author of Life.

The Scripture says of Jesus, the Word who was in the beginning, and was with God, and was God, that:[20]

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.”[21]

They killed Him, and Peter brought their sin to bear heavily upon their minds.

He did this, because in order for them to see the beauty of Christ and their need for Him, they needed to see their sin for what it was. It is impossible for one to be reconciled to the Living God in Christ without first getting a bitter taste of the severity of their sin. Mercy cannot be cherished without comprehending sin and its consequence. A person will never see their need for mercy if they never see their sin before a holy and just God. As Pink said:

“It is useless to preach Christ unto souls until they see and feel their desperate need of him.”

Ryle made a similar remark, stating:

“Christ is never fully valued, until sin is clearly seen. We must know the depth and malignity of our disease, in order to appreciate the great Physician.”

The gospel is good news for sinners. Jesus came to die for the unholy and ungodly, and not for the righteous.[22] He said in Luke 5:32:

“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

            This was Peter’s objective in dealing with their sin. He wanted them to see how great it was, so that they might begin to grasp how great God’s patience and mercy was toward them so that they might repent and turn from themselves to Christ and be refreshed:

17 And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. 18 But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 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; 20and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 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.”

Just as a true gospel call must deal with sin, a true a gospel call must beckon people to repentance. To repent is to have a change of heart, mind, and purpose. It is a shunning of sin, and turning to God. It is when one is burdened by the shame of their sin, thus prodding them to turn from it and confidently towards Christ. To repent is to fulfill the gospels demand of denying yourself, picking up your cross, and following Christ.[23] It is to lose sight of self, and focus on Christ.

The Scripture says that it is the mercy of God that leads to repentance.[24] Repentance begins when one sees the full weight of the penalty of their sin realizing that they have no chance of survival unless God withholds what they rightly deserve. They are like the tax-collector who cannot even look to heaven, but instead is reduced to beating his breast saying, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.”[25] When the Holy Spirit brings a person to this state of conviction, He draws them to see the love of God towards them in Christ, who died for sin, the just for the unjust so that He might bring us to God.[26] It is the mercy of God in Christ that leads to repentance.

Peter first demonstrates them to be guilty, but then beckons them to see that the Lord God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness and forgiveness. He says:

“Brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also.18 But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 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.”

Like the heat on a hot summer day, the weight of their guilt and shame would have been oppressive. Peter seeks to give them a hope that would refresh them and free them from their guilt and shame. Repentance toward God and faith in Christ would do this, for there is no more condemnation for sin for those who are in Christ.[27] Those trusting in Him are saved from the wrath to come.[28] The perfect love of God in Christ casts out all fear of judgment for those believing in Him.[29] He has removed their sin as far as the east is from the west.[30] Though their sins be as scarlet, they are as white as snow, though they be as red as crimson, they will be like wool.[31] Refreshment occurs in a person who genuinely repents and trusts in Jesus, because they understand that He:

“Having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”[32]

Peter understood that their only hope of being freed from the guilt and shame of their sin was through repentance toward God and faith in Christ, and this is produced first through the site of sin and its consequence, and then through seeing Christ crucified for sin. This is what Peter does. He fixes their gaze upon what God has done before them in His Son, and he calls to their attention the atrociousness of their sin against Him, so that they might then see His mercy towards them, and they repent and return and be refreshed in Christ.

One could logically look at it like this: Repentance toward God and faith in Christ leads to life and refreshment. What leads to repentance? The mercy of God does. What leads a person to seeing their need for mercy? The deserved wrath of God does. What leads one to see their deserving God’s just wrath? The sight of their sin does. What leads one to the knowledge of their sin? The Law of God does, and what is the Law, but a reflection of the glory of God’s holiness.

As Paul says, “the Law is holy…and righteous and good.”[33] It is not something that is evil, and worthy of disdain. It is, however, incapable of saving. The only thing it succeeds at is killing us, “for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”[34] The Law exposes our sin. It is that standard whereby one evaluates themselves to see whether they measure up to God’s glory. Since the Law is an expression of His holiness, we all fall short, discovering that we are dead in sin and deserving of damnation forever under His holy fury.[35]

The Law kills, so the gospel can make alive! Galatians 3:24 refers to the Law as our tutor, or school master, which is designed “to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.”

An ambassador of Christ is to wield both Law and Gospel. With the Law we reveal to people that though they physically live, they are spiritual dead and deserving of divine damnation. Though God is merciful, and compassionate and abounding in loving kindness, He is also good and just and He will not allow the guilty to go unpunished.[36] When this reality rightfully thrusts people into a pit of despair with no where to turn, we give them the message of life in Christ. We labor with them to see that the eternal Son of God became a Man to live a righteousness for us according to His Father’s Law. We want them to see that Jesus loved His Father perfectly without flaw, as well as His neighbor; yet He hung upon the cross as if He had never loved His Father or others. He lived an innocent and righteous life yet hung there as if He were guilty and unrighteous. He had become sin. That is to say that the sin of others was imputed to His account. He bore it on His body on the cross so that He might be pierced through for the transgressions of others and crushed for their iniquities. He bore it so the chastening for our wellbeing would fall upon Him. The Father treated Him as if He had sinned and poured out the wrath we deserve for our sin upon His only Son, who came to give His life a ransom for many. Jesus, “died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.”[37] We want them to see that God proved there is forgiveness in His name, and that there truly is hope of eternal life freely for all who repent and believe. He did so by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand. We want them to know that Jesus will not turn aside from anyone who comes to Him for salvation. He says in John 6:37:

“All that the Father gives to Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”

We have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation which is defined as the good news that:

“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.”

To convey this glorious message, we must wield both Law and gospel. If our desire is for people to see the beauty of Christ, and cherish Him, and love Him, then we must teach sin. Those who are forgiven little, love little, but those who are forgiven much, love much.[38] We must hold up the Law, and once it has killed, we must hold up Christ even higher so that He might give life. It was Charles Spurgeon that beautifully said:

“I do not believe that any man can preach the gospel who does not preach the law. The law is the needle, and you cannot draw the silken thread of the gospel through a man’s heart unless you first send the needle of the law to make way for it. If men do not understand the law, they will not feel that they are sinners. And if they are not consciously sinners, they will never value the sin offering. There is no healing a man till the law has wounded him, no making him alive till the law has slain him.”

The Fulfilled Plan and Purpose of God

Notice that prior to calling them to repentance, Peter wants them to understand that God accomplished His redemptive purposes through their sinful actions. He says in effect:

“You acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did, but God has fulfilled what He purposed to come to pass from before the creation of the world, a plan that He foretold through His prophets.”

            Jesus Christ is the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world.[39] Before the world was, the Godhead purposed among itself that the Father would give His Son to be the propitiation of sin,[40] and that the Son would willingly and humbly become a Man to lay down His life for His sheep upon the cross by becoming sin and bearing it upon His body and dying for sinners, the just for the unjust. God revealed this plan of redemption through His prophets. Jesus said that the Scriptures testify of Him.[41] He is the seed of the women promised in Eden, who would crush the serpents head while being crushed in the process.[42] He is the One is Psalm 22 crying out:

1 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning…All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, ‘Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”…14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within me.15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death.16 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.17 I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; 18 They divide my garments among them,
And for my clothing they cast lots.”[43]

He is the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, who Isaiah says was:

Despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised…
He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due

12 He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.”

Jesus said to the Apostles in Luke 24:44-47:

44 These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was the redemptive plan of God from all eternity so that He might be forever praised for the glory of His grace.[44] Peter said in his first sermon that Jesus was nailed to the cross at the hands of godless men, “by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.” Realizing that they had witnessed the fulfilment of Psalm 2, the believers prayed to God in Acts 4:24-28 saying:

“O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said,

‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
And the peoples devise futile things?
26 ‘The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’

27 For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.”

Again, God accomplished His redemptive purpose through their sinful actions.

As has been said before, Divine sovereignty and human responsibility hold their longest kiss at the cross. It is there we see mankind acting of their own volition, and God carrying out His predetermined purpose through it. Man’s injustice is fully displayed while divine justice is fully satisfied. The human will was not violated, but it freely expressed itself making people culpable for their sin while God remained free from it. They meant it for evil, but He meant it for good to preserve many people alive.[45]

Though Peter’s audience was guilty for killing God’s Son, he wanted them to understand that God would freely forgive them on the basis of repentance towards Him, and confidence in who Jesus is and what He had done for them upon the cross that they were instrumental in nailing Him to. Complete forgiveness was possible because it was upon the cross that Jesus Christ purchased eternal redemption with His own precious blood for all who turn from themselves and trust in Him for salvation.

The Peril of Forsaking the Prophet

One of the last things we see Peter doing in this text is bringing to bear upon their minds the importance of heeding Jesus, who is the Prophet Moses spoke of. Peter says:

22 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. 23 And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ 24 And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. 

            Jesus is this prophet. Jesus referred to Himself as a prophet when He said that a prophet is not without honor in His own country.[46] The people considered Him to be a prophet,[47] and many began to understand Him to be the Prophet Moses spoke of. After Jesus raised the dead man of Nain, fear gripped the crowd, and:

“They began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!”[48]

John 6:14 reveals that when the crowds saw the signs that He was performing they concluded:

            “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

After He taught on the Spirit in John 7, some of the multitude  said, “This is certainly the Prophet.”[49]  

Jesus is the prophet Moses spoke of that people are to heed, and it was this Prophet that said:

“Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sin.”[50]

He said:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”[51]

He said that:

“Whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”[52]

He said:

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”[53]

As Psalm 2:10-12 says:

10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Worship the Lord with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!”

Who will be able to stand when He appears in flaming fire dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey His gospel?[54] None will be able to. They will be swept away in eternal destruction, and away from the presence of the Lord forever. Either kiss the Son in faith and live, or forever perish under His fury.

All those who are sorrowful over their sin and confident in Christ, clinging to Him through faith knowing Him capable of saving them for who He is and what He has done, will be freely forgiven all their sin and given the hope of everlasting life. A life in perfect fellowship with God forever, where there will no longer be any death, or mourning, or crying, or pain.[55] By His love and grace, the sinful sons and daughters of Adam will be considered sons and daughters to Him, and He will unashamedly be their God.[56] Christ is the resurrection and the life, and He says that all who believe in Him will have this life even if they die.[57]

Luke records Peter saying in Acts 3:25-26:

“25 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.’ 26 For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

Peter ends by pleading for his kinsman according to the flesh, his Israelite hearers, those “To whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh,”[58] to turn from their wicked ways, and cling to the Living Christ who has proven Himself to be alive by the perfect health of the lame man. Since He lives, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him.[59] As Paul says:

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”[60]

Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me

The glorious message we are to preach to people, and the message in which we are to have received and stand in, be saved by, is that:

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”[61]

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”[62] He did not die for the capable, or the godly, or the righteous, or His allies. The message of the gospel is that He died for the helpless, for the ungodly, for the unrighteous, for His enemies. God demonstrated His love by justifying ungodly people, not on the basis of their works, but on the basis of their faith in the Person and work of His Son, Jesus.[63]

God commands all people every where to repent and believe this message, and He has furnished proof that He will one day return with salvation for His people, and judgment for anyone who does not know God and anyone who does not obey His gospel, by raising His Son back to life on the third day.[64]

 This is the message we are to boldly and unashamedly proclaim, as well as live according to. From the worlds perspective it is utterly ridiculous. As the Paul says, “The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” Not only is the message looked at as foolish, but the means of preaching is as well. What, however, does the Scripture say, but that God was:

“Well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

Pour into understanding the gospel, and preach it as dying men and women to dying men and women, realizing that:

15 We are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.”[65]

Yes, the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, “But to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The proclamation of the gospel is the only means through which the Spirit applies life. Faithfully proclaim it, and remember that everyone ought to give their lives to Christ, but even if people do not, we are still to give Him ours.

Let us close with the lyrics to a song, which I believe perfectly captures a repentant sinner response to the beauty of Christ. It wonderfully articulates a person doing homage to the Son and taking refuge in Him:

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me, 
let me hide myself in thee; 
let the water and the blood, 
from thy wounded side which flowed, 
be of sin the double cure; 
save from wrath and make me pure. 

Not the labors of my hands 
can fulfill thy law’s demands; 
could my zeal no respite know, 
could my tears forever flow, 
all for sin could not atone; 
thou must save, and thou alone. 

Nothing in my hand I bring, 
simply to the cross I cling; 
naked, come to thee for dress; 
helpless, look to thee for grace; 
foul, I to the fountain fly; 
wash me, Savior, or I die. 

While I draw this fleeting breath, 
when mine eyes shall close in death, 
when I soar to worlds unknown, 
see thee on thy judgment throne, 
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, 
let me hide myself in thee.”[66] 

[1] Acts 3:9-10

[2] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; G3816: Pais, Servant

[3] Matthew 12:18-21, Cross Reference Isaiah 42:1-4

[4] 2 Samuel 7:12-14

[5] Psalm 2:7

[6] Acts 4:1-2

[7] Romans 1:16

[8] 2 Corinthians 2:15-17

[9] 1 Thessalonians 2:5-6

[10] 1 Thessalonians 2:4

[11] 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

[12] John 3:30

[13] Acts 2:22-23

[14] Psalm 16:10-11

[15] Luke 4:34

[16] John 18:38

[17] John 19:4

[18] John 19:6

[19] John 19:12-16

[20] John 1:1

[21] John 1:10-11

[22] Mark 2:17

[23] Mark 8:34

[24] Romans 2:4

[25] Luke 18:13

[26] 1 Peter 3:18

[27] Romans 8:1

[28] 1 Thessalonians

[29] 1 John 4:18

[30] Psalm 103:12

[31] Isaiah 1:18

[32] Hebrews 9:28

[33] Romans 7:12

[34] Romans 3:20

[35] Romans 3:23

[36] Exodus 34:6-7

[37] 1 Peter 3:18

[38] Luke 7:47

[39] Revelation 13:8

[40] 1 John 4:10

[41] John 5:39

[42] Genesis 3:15

[43] Psalm 22:1,7-8,14-18

[44] Ephesians 1:6

[45] Genesis 50:20

[46] Mark 6:4

[47] Matthew 21:11,46

[48] Luke 7:16

[49] John 7:40

[50] John 8:24

[51] John 14:6

[52] John 3:16

[53] Matthew 8:35

[54] 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

[55] Revelation 21:3-4

[56] Revelation 21:7

[57] John 11:25

[58] Romans 9:4-5

[59] Hebrews 7:25

[60] Romans 1:16

[61] 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

[62] 1 Timothy 1:15

[63] Romans 5:6-10

[64] Acts 17:30-31

[65] 2 Corinthians 2:15-16

[66] Rock of Ages Cleft for Me, Augustus Toplady; 1776

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