Acts 03(21)–04(12)


We noticed the last time that chapter 3 has the same basic structure as chapter 2. In both chapters, something remarkable and miraculous happened. In chapter 2 it was the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. And the Spirit enabled the people to speak in different languages. In chapter 3 it was the healing of the lame man. He was able to jump to his feet and walk and jump about. Then, in both chapters, a crowd gathered, because the people were amazed by what had happened. How was it that these Galileans were able to speak so many different languages? How was it that this lame man could now walk? And then thirdly, in both chapters Peter stood up and preached. And in his sermon he explained what had happened and then he went on to tell the crowd about the Lord Jesus. And we noticed that the focus is always, always on the Lord Jesus. And the focus is always, always on the Lord Jesus, because everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved.

We finished last time at verse 20 of chapter 3. Peter had just explained that when anyone repents and turns to God, their sins will be wiped out; they will enjoy times of refreshing; and one day, of course, the Lord Jesus will return.

Verses 21–26

In verse 21 Peter goes on to say that the Lord Jesus must now remain in heaven ‘until the time comes for God to restore everything’. And he’s referring to how God will restore everything to the way it was meant to be. Think of how God made the world. And everything he made was good, even very good. But then, because of Adam’s sin, everything changed. Adam and Eve, and all their descendants after them, fell into a state of sin and misery. And because it’s a state of sin, we now sin naturally. And every day we do things we’re not meant to do. And we break God’s holy law. And our lives — and all our relationships — are spoiled because of the sins we commit every day. But then, it’s not only a state of sin; it’s a state of misery. Our life here on earth is spoiled by all kinds of suffering and sadness and sorrow and trouble and trials and heartache. And, of course, we’re cut off from God, who is the source of all that is good. And we’re liable to his punishment in this life and in the next. But the good news of the gospel is that God did not leave us in our sin and misery. He sent his Son to deliver us from it by his life and death and resurrection so that all who believe in him are delivered from this state of sin and misery and we’re brought into a state of salvation so that our sins are forgiven for ever and we have peace with God for ever.

But here’s the thing. We still sin. And we still do what’s wrong. And there’s still so much suffering and sadness and misery in our lives. But, we have the promise that Christ will return. And when he returns our weak and frail bodies will be glorified. And we will be with the Lord for ever and ever and there will be no more sin or suffering. No more sin. No more suffering. God will restore this fallen world to the way it was supposed to be. And, in fact, the healing of the man was a kind of visual aid, or an anticipation, of what will happen then. Here was a man who, of course, was a sinner, because we’re all sinners. And his life was filled with misery. Think of how miserable he must have been, because he couldn’t walk and everyday he had to beg. But then he hears about the Lord Jesus from Peter and John. And he’s healed. And we read in verse 8 how he jumped to his feet. And he began to walk. And he went into the temple courts, walking and jumping and praising God. And that’s what we’ll all do, one day. We’ll come into the presence of God, freed finally of all our sin and misery, and we’ll joyfully praise the Lord for ever and ever. And this has always been God’s plan. Look what Peter says at the end of verse 21 and into verse 22. God promised these things long ago through his holy prophets. And Peter refers to Moses who spoke of the day when God would raise up a prophet like Moses. And we were thinking about this a couple of Sundays ago. Remember how the Jews came to John the Baptiser to see was he the Christ? No. Was he Elijah? No. Was he the prophet? Was he the special prophet God had promised to raise up who would be able to declare God’s will to his people as never before? Well, it wasn’t John the Baptiser. It was the Lord Jesus, our Great Prophet. And those who listen to him and to the good news of salvation about him will be saved. But those who will not listen will be completely cut off, says Peter in verse 23. And how could it be otherwise — because they have turned away from the only Saviour. They’re turned away from the only one who is able to save us.

In verse 24 Peter refers to Samuel and all the other prophets in the Old Testament who also spoke of these things in one way or another. And that reminds us that the Bible is all about the Lord Jesus and his work. The Old Testament foretold what he would do. And the New Testament tells us what he did when he came the first time. And it looks forward to the time when he will come back. So when we read the Bible, we must look to see what it says about him. All of those Old Testament stories we teach the children about David and Daniel and Gideon and Esther and Ruth and all the judges and all the kings and all the prophets and priests and sacrifices, and everything else, they’re all there to teach us about the Saviour who was coming into the world.

And so, look at what Peter says in verse 25. Right there, at the beginning of the Bible, in the story of Abraham, when God called him to leave his father’s household and to go to the Promised Land, right there, God was revealing his plan to restore all things by his Son. When God spoke to Abraham about his offspring and how the whole world will be blessed though Abraham’s offspring, God was talking about the Lord Jesus, Abraham’s offspring, his descendant. And how God would bless us through him. And how does God bless us through him? By enabling us to turn from our wicked ways and to turn back to God. The message of salvation through faith in Christ came to the Jews first. And afterwards, it came to the rest of the world. And this salvation was part of God’s plan, his covenant of grace, which he revealed in the beginning to Abraham. His gracious promise to deliver us from our sin and misery by a Redeemer, Jesus Christ his Son and Abraham’s offspring.

Chapter 4 verses 1 to 12

A dark cloud descends in chapter 4 in the shape of the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees. The priests served in the temple. The captain of the temple guard was the highest ranking priest after the High Priest. He assisted the High Priest with his duties, while also serving as the chief of police in the temple area. And the Sadducees were a party made up of various priests and elders. And they didn’t believe in the resurrection — which is why they were so sad, you see. Well, all of them came up to Peter and John and they were greatly disturbed for two reasons. First of all, because Peter and John were teaching the people — and who gave them the right to teach the people? And second, Peter and John were proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead — and the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection. And, of course, they didn’t believe in the Lord Jesus either. So, they seized Peter and John and put them in jail until the next day. Nevertheless, despite the opposition, many who heard Peter and John’s message believed. On the Day of Pentecost 3,000 believed and were added to the church. Now the number rises to 5,000 men — and presumably there were women and children who believed as well.

On the next day, the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met to examine Peter and John. This was the Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, the same people who examined the Lord Jesus and sent him to Pilate for execution. Annas the high priest is there, as well as Caiaphas. Both are mentioned in the gospels and Caiaphas was the real high priest, while Annas had been the high priest earlier, but he appears to have continued to exert an influence on the Sanhedrin. And there were also two men named John and Alexander and other unnamed members of the high priest’s family. And they want to know one thing:

By what [spiritual] power, or by what name, did you do this?

In other words, who gave you the authority to do this? The Lord Jesus was asked the same question. And so was John the Baptiser. So, they’re being put on the spot. What will they do? What will they say? Peter, of course, had not so long ago crumbled when put on the spot and he had denied knowing the Lord Jesus, not just once, but three times. But now, he’s filled with the Holy Spirit, and with the Spirit’s help, he speaks up and he says that this man who was lame has been healed by the name of the Lord Jesus.

But he doesn’t leave it there. He says about the Lord Jesus:

You crucified him.

And they had. They had examined him and condemned him and had sent him to Pilate for execution.

You crucified him. But God raised him.

And then he quotes from Psalm 118 — and again this reminds us that the Old Testament is all about the Lord Jesus — he quotes from Psalm 118 about the stone the builders rejected but which became, in fact, the most important stone in the building. What’s he saying? The Lord Jesus is the stone you have rejected. But God has raised him up and made him the capstone, the most important part of the church God is building. And, of course, the Lord Jesus, used that same Old Testament text in the gospels in the parable of the wicked tenants. Do you remember the parable? The landlord sent various servants to collect the rent from his landowners. But they beat them and sent them away. So he sent his son. And what did they do? They killed him. And the Lord was foretelling how the leaders of the Jews would kill him, the Son of God. But, even though they rejected him and killed him, God would raise him up and make him the capstone.

And then we have verse 12 which is wonderful and with this I’ll finish. Peter says:

Salvation is found in no one else.

Notice that salvation is available. Sinners can be saved from the condemnation we deserve. But salvation is found in only one person. Under heaven, Peter says — and he means in all creation, or throughout the entire world — there is no other name given to men by which we must be saved. Salvation is found in no one else but in Jesus Christ.

Some people believe they don’t need a Saviour. They can climb up to God and to eternal life by their own good deeds and hard work. And others believe that every religion in the world provides a path to God and to eternal life. One person goes to God one way. Another goes to God another way. But no. The Bible is clear. There is only one God. And there is only one way to God. But that one way is available to all and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. And that’s why the focus must always, always be on the Lord Jesus. He alone is the Saviour. And when we go out into the world to make disciples, we must tell the people we meet about Christ: what he had done for sinners by his life and death and resurrection and how he is coming again to restore all things to the way it was meant to be.