Summary: I preach expository messages, and this is the seventh in my series on the Book of Acts.
“The Joy of Change”
Acts 3:11-26 6.10.07
The Joy of…books:
o Sake (rice wine)
o Sox (Boston Red Sox)
Nature Channel – “Pigs”
And that’s just with 3 pages of Google searching. Today, let’s look at the “joy of change”. We don’t like change. Particularly, Christians don’t like change. 62% of Americans, according to research, have what is termed “passive” personalities. 85% of professing Christ-followers have “passive” personalities. People with passive personalities are drawn to the familiar and the safe as opposed to the dangerous and the untried—which is one reason many churches struggle to adapt to cultural shifts. And yet change is necessary to life, to health, to growth. Show me something that isn’t changing, and I’ll show you something that is dying. And thus we say, at Red Oak, that the story will be told in the lives that are changed. That excites me, gets me going, gives me energy: the idea that people’s lives are being impacted by the gospel of Christ and changed, not just temporarily or for life, but for all of eternity.
Such a man is the man who was healed by Peter and John. As we saw a couple of weeks ago, this lame beggar sat at the Jerusalem gate known as the “Beautiful Gate”, hoping to receive alms from passers-by, but the divine intersection between this man’s need, God’s ability, and Peter’s faith produced in this man a complete and total healing. The man who’d been lame from birth, who’d never even walked, now was running and skipping and leaping for joy, a true miracle of God.
It’s worth pointing out again that something incredible, miraculous, unbelievable was again attended by the proclaiming of the truth of God and the gospel. God doesn’t perform parlor tricks to amuse and mystify; He works in order that lives might be changed by the gospel, and it’s all about life-change at Red Oak; the story will be told by the lives that are changed!
This isn’t a polished message, frankly; it’s not something Peter had planned (and we all, Peter reminds us, need to be ready to speak up for Christ at any moment). Peter gave the message with a tremendous visual aid: the healed man was clinging to him so as to not let Peter get away, even if he wanted to. Pretty powerful, huh?
It was delivered from Solomon’s Portico, or Solomon’s Porch, which was an outer area of the temple lined with columns and covered with a cedar roof. It is delivered to a Jewish audience, of course, one that would understand its references and was familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures. Honestly, I could go deeply with you into some of the Jewish symbolism contained here—and probably lose most of you to Snoozeland in about 3 minutes. But there are some basic points contained in it that are instructive to us:
I. It’s all about God and His glory.
According to the text, immediately after the healing, Peter and John developed an extensive mailing list; initiated a media ministry featuring television and radio; bought a Lear jet; had their hair coiffed; and wrote a self-help book. No, they gave credit to God. As I’ve mentioned before, I just get really itchy when I see books or billboards or church websites emblazoned with big pictures of the preacher. Peter basically said, “what, you think we did this? You’re kidding, right?” In a nutshell, the difference is between the pastor to whom you listen, and you say afterward, “what a great preacher!”, and the one to whom you listen, and say afterward, “what a great Jesus!”
The starting point of the gospel, for so many, is “you are a sinner” (that’s where the Romans Road starts). No, that’s part of the message, but not the first part! The very first part of the gospel involves God doing what only He can do—creating the world and all that is in it—and then His own satisfaction that everything He’d done was “good”. He was pleased with His work, and every part of it demonstrated His own glory perfectly. Everything He does, He does for His own glory, which is appropriate, since His glory if of highest worth. And He glorifies His only Son, Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity.
II. We all stand guilty before God.
Peter is in their faces about this. He isn’t soft-pedaling, holding back, giving them the soft-sell; no, his bony finger is crooked in their noses and he’s giving them the what-for. Now, as we’ll see in a minute, he also extends to them the possibility of the amazing grace of God. Hey, maybe we don’t really think of grace as being all that amazing because we don’t see our own sinfulness as being all that bad. Maybe we’d be in better shape, understanding and appreciating God’s grace more, if we really grasped how bad off we are without Him. If we’re only sorta bad, then maybe grace is only pretty good. But Pete pulls no punches! He condemns their