Summary: We are heirs of all God’s promises and stand at the end of a long line of folk God has chosen for His own.
INTRO.: Driving through highway construction, you will see many signs: "Men working," "Lane closed ahead," "flag man ahead," "construction area," "slow men working," "fines doubled for violations in construction areas," etc.
If we wanted to associate a slogan with the book of Acts, it might be, "God At Work," or "Construction Under Way." The Book of Acts is the story of how God began to build His Church. It not only records the beginning of the Church but also chronicles the first 30 years or so of the Church’s history.
We can trace the beginnings of this congregation back more than a hundred years, but the Church began long before. It started the year Jesus died and rose from the dead. In this book of beginnings are many patterns and precedents to show us what the Church is and what she should be doing.
But, our text says we are heirs of the prophets and the covenant. This is not true of us in the same way as it is of the Jews, but it is nonetheless true. Let’s examine our text in terms of its historical background and I believe you will see we have inherited something truly wonderful.
I. The immediate context of our text:
A. Acts chapter 1: about 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus:
1. After leaving the promise they would receive power from the Father, Jesus ascended to Heaven.
2. A new apostle was chosen by God to replace Judas, who had betrayed Christ and killed himself.
3. The qualifications: one who had traveled with Jesus and witnessed His resurrection. Two men qualified and God chose between them.
B. Acts chapter 2: the events marking the beginning of the Church:
1. All 12 were together in one place. The Holy Spirit came with visible, audible, intellectual wonders.
2. It was an opportune time: the Day of Pentecost. Many foreigners were present.
3. Peter preached the first Gospel sermon and 3000 were baptized. V. 41
4. Then a tight and loving fellowship developed. 42-47
C. Acts chapter 3: healing of the paralytic:
1. Peter and John performed an undeniable miracle and the people were amazed. 1-11
2. Peter preached a powerful sermon that placed his hearers in direct opposition to God: 12-18
3. Then he called upon his hearers to repent, challenging them to receive three great promises: 19, 20
4. Actually, the events leading to this challenge began to occur even long before Jesus appeared on Earth.
II. The broader background:
A. Mankind’s fall into sin and the consequences of disobedience: Gen. 3
1. Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve first doubted God’s Word and acted upon that doubt.
2. Selfishness was at the core of the first sin.
3. With sin came death. Man was not created to die but to live eternally with God.
B. Abram’s selection by God to establish His national covenant:
1. A remedy for sin and death was necessary, and it took thousands of years in the preparation.
2. God appeared to Abram and called him to the life of a vagabond and through his family established a nation that would know Him as God.
3. Eventually, they became a nation of slaves and lived in slavery in Egypt 400 years.