Summary: When you have an opportunity to share the Gospel, you need to know which basics to target.
The Brass Tacks of Christianity
1. PHOENIX (Reuters) – In a brazen attempt reminiscent of a medieval siege, Mexican smugglers tried to use a hefty catapult to hurl drugs north over the U.S. Border, authorities said..
Surveillance video taken by National Guard troops deployed to support the Border Patrol caught a group of men apparently attempting to pull down a metal beam and load or test the catapult, which was powered by powerful elastic and mounted on a trailer close to the metal border fence.
2. People expend great effort and try to avoid the law in the hopes of getting rich, in this case, through the sale of drugs.
3. Yet sometimes believers who are trying to do something wonderful – evangelize the world and make disciples – can be lackluster and unprepared to share the Good News with those who have interest. Our efforts may be equivalent to this medieval catapult.
4. If you had the opportunity to share the Gospel with a captive audience who had invited you to do so, what would you share?
Main Idea: When you have an opportunity to share the Gospel, you need to know which basics to target.
I. The Verification of Our Faith: FULFILLED PROPHECIES Centered Around Jesus (26-37)
A. The Hebrew Scriptures PREDICT identifying details for Messiah (26-31)
1. Belief in Jesus is CONSISTENT with Judaism (26)
2. The people of Jerusalem did not RECOGNIZE Jesus as Messiah (27a)
• Because most in Jersualem did not recognize him does not mean most hated him or wanted him crucified
3. Jesus' ENEMIES fulfilled the very prophecies they studied (27b)
• In the Bible, people are always blamed for not understanding the Scriptures; the fault is never the Scriptures themselves
• We call this the clarity, or perspicuity of Scripture;
• If it were not, how could it be a canon by which we measure truth?
• We can slam our Bibles shut, or patiently move on, hoping to better grasp
4. The Messiah's DEATH and RESURRECTION is crucial (28-31)
• This event was verified by eyewitnesses, more than 500 at one point in time; men who gave their lives and held to the end that Christ lives!
Note the broad brush summary of 27-29. Paul was probably more nuanced and detailed, but this is a summary. It was most of the people of Jerusalem who did not recognize Jesus, but it was only the corrupt rulers and their crowd of friends who asked him to be executed. Not all or most of the people of Jerusalem approved of this or participated in this; they were distracted with the Passover, which is precisely why Jesus' enemies chose this time.
Jesus' enemies did not lay him in a tomb, but permitted him to be carried away by others. Again, Luke does not want to give us a detailed picture, just a summary. He assumes that the readers of Acts, including Theophilus, knew the details from Luke's Gospel.
The lesson here is that the Scriptural authors presuppose familiarity with what was written before their books. This is why we must get comfortable in the First (Old) Testament and interpret Scripture in light of the Scriptures the original audience had.
B. The RESURRECTED Christ Is the Prophesied Victor Over Death! (32-36)
1. The concept of DOUBLE fulfillment
2. Jesus is the more LITERAL fulfillment
The Targum of Psalm 2:7 reads, " I will tell of the covenant of the Lord. He said: 'You are as dear to me as a son to a father (abba), pure as if this day I had created you.'”
Psalm 2 is about a royal coronation, more exaggerated in its initial historical use, but more literal of the Messiah.
• We have studied many prophesies that were fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. So many that the greatest prophecies, Isaiah 53, is still the greatest reason for mainstream Jews to believe in Jesus Yeshua.
Application: How fluent are you in locating key prophecies of the OT? You need to know at least Isaiah 53 if you are ever going to use the Sword of the Spirit.
II. The Crux of Our Message is JUSTIFICATION by Faith In Jesus Christ (38-41)
A. FORGIVENESS through Jesus (38)
1. guilty conscience takes its toll, downward spiral…since I've done this or that…
2. Some not in touch with conscience; guilt directs lives but unaware of it.
3. In Pilgrim's Progress, Pilgrim feels the weight of his sin; it was always there, but the Holy Spirit made it painfully heavy…
B. FREEDOM through Jesus (39a)
Everyone of us desperately needs to be forgiven and comfortable with forgiving
C. JUSTIFICATION through Jesus (39c)
"According to the Mishnah, 'There are thirty-six transgressions for which the Torah specifies the punishment of karet,' that is, being 'cut off' from Israel… For these, the Torah provides no 'clearing'; no sacrifice or punishment named in the Torah provides atonement or restores fellowship…" [David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, p. 270].