Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Acts Transition, Part 10

Today we continue our study in Acts 2:37-41.

VERSE 37: Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? As a result of Peter's words, they are now convicted by the accusation that they had just killed the Son of God and asked what they needed to do now.

VERSE 38: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Anyone who can read can clearly tell that Peter's response is clearly not one of grace. He did not say you must believe in the death, burial, and resurrection. Instead, he said you, every one of you, need to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. Remember the offer of the Kingdom required national acceptance.

That is very different than what Paul preached. Look at Acts 16:25-31 where it recounts the story in which Paul and Silas prayed and sang in the prison. After this, an earthquake occurred and the prison doors were opened and the keeper of the prison thought it best to kill himself since it was going to happen anyway with the escape of the prisoners. To which Paul shouted that they were all there and it wouldn't be necessary. Upon which the keeper asked him, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Note Paul's answer was nowhere near Peter's. Instead, it was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." It must be understood that while under the Gospel of the Kingdom which Peter preached, national repentance was required. However, under the Gospel of Grace which Paul preached, it was simply an individual's belief that was required. Unbelievable how this has confused so many today in the Body of Christ. WE ARE UNDER THE GOSPEL OF GRACE!

Side Note: Remission or Forgiveness? Now, some would argue that remission and forgiveness are two different things because their definitions are slightly different. Remission being "the cancellation of a debt” and forgiveness being “to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake”. However, that is still up in the air for me. Worthy of further study for sure.

It is also worth pointing out here that Peter told them that they must repent and be baptized to receive the Holy Spirit. However, later when God commanded Peter to go to Cornelius, a gentile, he received the Holy Spirit simply by believing. Notice that it says in Acts 10:44, while Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. Did you see it? They received the Holy Spirit simply by believing! No repentance and no baptism. I am not sure that Peter totally grasped what was going on because he then felt the need to baptize him. This was obviously just a glimpse that God was giving to Peter that the Gentiles were also going to be saved, but not the same way.

VERSE 39: For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. At this point, many will immediately assume that this verse is referring to Gentiles. Not so fast, we are still in chapter 2. Peter had not been introduced to Cornelius yet. Nor had Paul was raised up yet. Those who "are afar off" could only have been understood by Peter and the others to be the Jews who were still scattered to the nations as a result of the "diaspora" which refers to Jews are were living outside of Jerusalem.

VERSE 40: And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. The "untoward generation" refers to those Jews who still did not believe.

VERSE 41: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. As a result of Peter's message, only three thousand received it and were added to the assembly that was continuing to grow there in Jerusalem. This is not to be confused with the Body of Christ that would later develop under the teaching of Paul.

Bear in mind, this was an offer of national salvation to Israel, not individual, and it was being rejected. Three thousand was not enough! That number alone shows that many still did not believe. Later on in Acts 4:4, we are told that their number had risen to five thousand. Historically, I have no idea how many Jews were present, but I have heard as many as 250,000.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Acts Transition, Part 9

You may listen to the audio version of this study on SoundCloud.

Today we pick up our study through the book of Acts in Acts 2:22 where it says, Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Make no mistake here. Peter is still addressing Jews (v.14). The language clearly indicates that he is still addressing the descendants of Jacob whether they be from the Northern Kingdom of Israel or the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Of course, Rome ruled at the time, but they knew to what tribe they belonged.

Hear these words literally means "listen to me". He is making the point that Jesus was approved by God because of the miracles that he had done in their midst. Paul also pointed out that the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom in 1Co 1:22. Peter clearly forcing them to a decision as to who the one they had just killed truly was.

VERSE 23: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: God had already determined Christ's crucifixion. It was not optional to the narrative. God, in His foreknowledge, knew that they would crucify him. After all, they had to in order for a legitimate offer of the Kingdom could be made. Far too many in the church today do no understand this fact. Instead, they will say that once the Jews crucified their Messiah, God immediately turned to the Gentiles. Friend, that simply is not the case. Christ had to die before a legitimate offer of the Kingdom could be made. Read Hebrews 9:15-17 slowly. And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Jesus had to die first to forgive the sins that Israel had committed under the first testament in order for the second to be offered! And no, it was not offered to Gentiles. We, the Body of Christ, do not live under a covenant.

We need to understand just how bad this confusion is today. Think of the number of churches and ministries that have words like Covenant, Testament, New Jerusalem, Kingdom, Bride of Christ, etc. in their names. These are all misunderstandings of Scripture. All of those words have to do with Israel. We are NOT Israel, folks!

VERSE 24: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. In other words, you can't blame Pilate or Rome, you killed him is what Peter is saying. It is interesting that only the Jews are accused of killing Jesus and never the Body of Christ.

VERSES 25-28: For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Peter now shows from the Old Testament that their actions were fulfilled prophecy. He is quoting from Psalm 16:8-11 to show that Christ had to die and be resurrected. This was a fact that even the Apostles had overlooked (Luk 18:31-34).

Note: The word Hell is also a subject of debate because it is a transliteration from Psa 16:10 where it means grave or the world of the dead.

VERSES 29-31: Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. He continues to prove that David was not writing about himself in the previous verses. His point is that David saw Messiah being raised up to sit upon his throne. Of course, to be raised up, he must first have died. Understand something, Christ could not have assumed the throne without first having been crucified. I know, it is a lot of reprogramming, because we have always heard it taught incorrectly. I have done it myself!

VERSE 32: This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. His point is that this very one who David spoke of has resurrected from the dead as many witnesses have already testified.

VERSE 33: Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. In other words, Jesus is no longer in the grave but sitting at the right hand of God. And the promise of the Father is the Holy Spirit that some of them said was the result of drunkenness, but instead was a fulfillment of Joel 2:28-29.

VERSES 34-35: For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Peter refers to another Psalm, Psalm 110:1 to show that the prophecies were not about David, but Christ.

VERSE 36: Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ (cf. Acts 3:25). Here is the point of the sermon: the one you crucified is both Lord and Christ (Master and Messiah). Of course, his point was made because in the very next verse they asked Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?