GOD ESTABLISHES HIS CHURCH IN THE WORLD
Divided by the Gospel
Jerry A Collins
v Is Jesus Christ the focus of all of history?
v Does Old Testament prophecy point to Jesus Christ?
v What difference does faith in Jesus Christ Make?
Great movements of God have often been accompanied by great preaching of Godís Word. For instance, the preaching of the reformation of Luther, Calvin, Knox, and Zwingli brot the lite of truth to the church after centuries of darkness. The preaching of John Bunyan, Richard Baxter and John Owen inaugurated the puritan revival of 17th century England. The 18th century great awakening in both Great Britain and New England was fired by the preaching of John Wesley, George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards. Some of the greatest preaching was in the nineteenth century from men like Charles Spurgeon, Alexander McClaren and Joseph Parker. The 20th century continued the legacy of powerful preaching from Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Charles Fuller, Dr. MR Dehann and many others. However, an even more exciting time when the greatest preaching was taking place was in the early years of the church. The church was born on the day of Pentecost when the apostle Peter preached. The Word of the gospel spread into Samaria thru Philipís preaching. As the gospel spread into the Gentile world, the catalyst again was the powerful preaching of the apostle Paul. In this message it is the person and work of Jesus Christ that takes center focus. There are three facets to this message and it is still relevant today.
1. GOD WAS GRACIOUS TO ISRAEL IN THE PAST 13-25
In vss 13-15 Paul continues his 1st missionary journey traveling a few hundred miles by sea and then by land arriving in present day turkey in the city of Pisidian Antioch. Before they began the difficult trip on land, John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem vs. 13. Whatever the reason for leaving, Paul considered it a defection and a fault (Acts 15:38). Upon arriving in what became a pattern for Paulís ministry, on the Sabbath they went into the Synagogue and sat down vs. 14. It was in this setting that Paul preached this message. He begins by reflecting on Godís grace to Israel in the past in at least 8 ways: 1) Election 17; 2) Elevation 17; 3) Deliverance 17; 4) Restraint 18; 5) Inheritance 19; 6) Generosity 20-21; 7) Provision 22; 8) Salvation 23. With this salvation God renews His grace to the people. A new era has opened up to them if they will only receive it. The Old terminates and the New begins in Christ. In this section:
(A) cp vs. 21-23. Saul was a man of tribe of Benjamin but David a man after Gods own heart. God gave Saul to them but He raised David to them. Davidís value is seen in his obedience to God while Saul did his own will to the harm of the people. In Saul God generously gave what was asked for but in David He sovereignty provided what they needed. Their need was for God to rule the one who ruled them. The quotation in vs. 22 about David recalls Godís commendation of His Son at His baptism who would fulfill all of Godís will. David, then, a prototype of the Son of God to come, is emphatically linked with him in vs. 23 from the offspring of this man.† (B) 2 facts about Jesus coming prepare way for 2nd part of Paulís message: (1) Johnís baptism, preached before Christís entrance into official ministry, was one of repentance to all the people of Israel vs. 24. So they must be prepared to repent and disassociate from the sinful rejection of their fellow-countrymen vs. 27ff. (2) Johnís testimony vs. 25 to Christ magnified his greatness so they must sense the magnitude of guilt in rejecting one like this. C) This section simply ends with Johnís ministry. All the law and prophets were until John. He culminates OT history and Christ inaugurates NT history. We still live in this period inaugurated by Christ. 1. It is a period of freedom. 2. It is a period of grace. 3. It is a period of good news. 4. It is a period of HS. 5. It is a period of opportunity (rewards). 6. It is a period of discipleship. 7. It is a period of anticipating His return.
2. GOD IS OFFERING SALVATION NOW† 26-371) The legitimate heirs of the gracious dealings of God are addressed and in 27-29 it is as though God puts the issue to them--will they endorse or will they reject the action of their brothers in Jerusalem and bring judgment upon themselves (40-41). They should heed the same OT prophets their brothers rejected. 2) The proof of Godís triumph is witnesses 30-32. Specifically the apostles and Paul senses his special mission among them to the people. This self-conciosness of mission may account for Paulís elevation into the spotlight at this point. 3) 4 times Paul refers to Jesus resurrection 30, 33, 34, 37. (A) The resurrection brings the promise of deliverance vs. 32 to complete fulfillment. Jesus cannot be unresurrected and Psa 2:7 assures this complete triumph. Jesus Sonship is affirmed in resurrection. (B) Because of resurrection--irrevocable in its effect on Messiah--God offers the holy and sure things of David vs. 34. These are the benefits of this salvtion like forgivenss of sin vs. 38, and freedom from performing the Law as way to stay right with God vs. 39 never before possible. C) David here is prototype of Jesus and while Messiahís body was for brief period dead it actually never saw corruption and it is no longer possible for Him because of resurrection vs. 35 (Psa 16:10). These statements cannot be applied to David for he served only his own generation vs. 36, died, buried and decayed. But Jesus resurrection makes salvation absolutely sure for every generation. He can guarantee salvation to Israel and to us as David could not do, because he saw corruption.
3. THE APPEAL TO BELIEVE THE GOSPEL† 38-42
Two things are offered. First is forgiveness vs. 38 and second justification vs. 39. Your sins can be forgiven and you can be in right relationship to God. The warning of vs. 40 is followed by the clear implication of judgment if this message is not believed. Those listening are called to decision. We notice three responses.
(1) This message aroused Gentile hunger and Jewish faith vs. 42-43. These were urged to continue in the grace of God. Not to continue in His salvation, that was certain, but in the sphere of His grace. The Jewish believers would especially need this but so all of us. How swiftly after salvation by grace we drift into living by law (Galatians written about this and to this area).
(2) The Jews never had such success and jealous of the crowds. At once they oppose this Gentile faith in Messiah. First, they were contradicting Paulís message. Second, they were blaspheming, cursing the message of Paul 44-45. Paulís response is that Jewish privilege entitles them to a first hearing of the gospe. But Godís purpose according to Scripture include Gentiles hearing.. The one who thrusts this aside only passes judgment upon himself vs. 46-49.
(3) Religious women, socially prominent ones and leading men of the city were aroused by the Jews drove them away but does not prevent disciples from continual filling of the HS and joy. God is on control.
A. The only message we have is forgiveness and freedom is found in the resurrected Christ. No-one else preaches this message.† B. Always expect a mixed response urging those believing to continue in Godís grace and those not that there is only judgment left.