Summary: Expostion of the last part of Peter’s sermon in Acts three about the exaltation of Christ through the forgiveness of the people who killed Him
Text: Acts 3:17-26, Title: Exaltation Through Forgiveness, Date/Place: NRBC, 8/5/07, AM
A. Opening illustration: Old Joe was dying. For years he had been at odds with Bill, formerly one of his best friends. Wanting to straighten things out, he sent word for Bill to come and see him. When Bill arrived, Joe told him that he was afraid to go into eternity with such a bad feeling between them. Then, very reluctantly and with great effort, Joe apologized for things he had said and done. He also assured Bill that he forgave him for his offenses. Everything seemed fine until Bill turned to go. As he walked out of the room, Joe called out after him, “But, remember, if I get better, this doesn’t count!”
B. Background to passage: this message is the third part of chapter three and the end of Peter’s sermon to the masses at the temple on the day of the healing of the lame man. Do a quick catch up on the situation. Peter’s message takes a real evangelistic turn in these last ten verses. And after a quick acknowledgment of the ignorance of the people and the sovereignty of God, Peter gives us several blessings that accompany salvation. And of course the most God-exalting event in the entirety of scripture is the saving of wretched, rebellious, godless men through the sacrificial atonement of Christ on the cross,
C. Main thought: And so in the message this morning we will see the sovereignty of God and the blessings that come from Him through salvation, thus exalting the name and fame of Christ.
A. God always accomplishes His purposes (v. 17-18)
1. After Peter has squarely placed the blame upon these hearers of his message for the death of their own Messiah, he acknowledges that they did it in ignorance. And even though ignorance of the law is not an excuse in our day, the OT provided for the possibility of forgiveness when sins were committed unintentionally, instead of in out and out rebellion. So with the weight of the responsibility of the death of their long-awaited Messiah upon them, Peter implies forgiveness is possible. In fact, he goes on to say that God fulfilled exactly what he said would happen. Peter says that even though what they did was evil, God was fulfilling his purposes through it.
2. Psa 97:1, Gen 50:20, Ex 9:16, Isa 43:13, 55:11, Job 42:2
3. Illustration: Charles Spurgeon, the 19th century pastor, writes this about the sovereignty of God—
There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought to more earnestly contend to than the doctrine of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne...for it is God upon the Throne whom we trust.
4. There is nothing in this world that can thwart the purpose of God. Ungodly men can’t stop Him, nor can natural disasters, unexpected tragedies, Satanic attacks, heart attacks, cancer, unexpected pregnancies, “accidents,” nor “coincidences.” God uses all of these things to bring about His purposes and plans for us and for the world. So the next time that these unplanned, yet sovereignly directed, events happen in your life, rest assured that God is big enough to control them all, in fact, He is controlling them all. He controls the length of a trial, its depth, its intensity, and he promises never to put upon us more than we can handle with Him at our side, and He will provide a way of escape (although not always deliverance). So think and so live as those with an unwavering confidence that their God is large and in charge, sovereignly bringing all things to His desired end. This means that we don’t fall apart when things don’t go as we planned, whether it is an event, a driver that cuts you off, a job that doesn’t turn out, or a diagnosis that is not favorable. We trust Him, and thank Him, and love Him, because He is working. So much more…
B. Therefore, surrender and be blessed (v. 19-26) – Peter asked them to acknowledge their sin, claim their Messiah, and seek the forgiveness of God. And when they truly did, these would be the results…
1. Blotting out of sin (v. 19) – the ink of that day had no acid, so it didn’t bite into the paper, and could easily be wiped off with a damp sponge. This is the promise to all those that put their faith in Christ completely to save. Your sin will be removed as far as the east is from the west, nailed to the cross, buried in the sea of forgetfulness. A Sunday School teacher had just concluded her lesson and wanted to make sure she had made her point. She said, “Can anyone tell me what you must do before you can obtain forgiveness of sin?” There was a short pause and then, from the back of the room, a small boy spoke up. “Sin,” he said. God will never bring up your sin against you again. Our consciences hold us captive constantly reminding us of all those things that we have done, but not Christ.