Focus Text: Acts 2
This series on How God Treats Sinners has “covered a lot of ground” in the previous thirty-six lessons. It will close with two closely related messages also taken from Acts 2. However, these two messages will have a bit of a twist to them; they concern a fact that is all too frequently overlooked in a study of Acts 2. In the context of this study, one of the most amazing verses in all of Holy Scripture is Acts 2.14; it reads, “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them…” Why is this one of the most amazing biblical passages? Read on!
The event to which Luke is referring occurred in Jerusalem less than two months after Jesus had been crucified there. Of course the apostles had been present at His trial, at the crucifixion, and after His resurrection. But, so had many of the people listening to Peter on this special Sunday; some of them had even participated in the unlawful deeds which led to Jesus’ crucifixion. Recall that Peter said that some of them had “taken [Jesus] by lawless hands” and had crucified, and put Him to death (see Acts 2.23). Also, consider the fact that Peter stated that God had raised Jesus “…of which we are all witnesses.” (Acts 2.32). No, the events of the previous Passover were well known and widely witnessed events; they were not done in a corner (see Acts 26.26).
From Pentecost, travel back 7 weeks to Passover. Hebrew pilgrims ascended to the great city just as they had done for centuries. However, this particular Passover was to be one which marked the end of a great era and the beginning of an even greater era. The objective of the Mosaic dispensation was being fulfilled in the Christian age which was being birthed. However, on the fateful night in which our Lord was betrayed by Judas, still another shadow moved stealthily in the traitor’s moon; that figure was Peter! He warmed himself by the fires of the enemy and when confronted about his association with Jesus, swore that he did not so much as know Him! This denial by Peter seems almost a contradiction of Peter’s personality and outspoken ways, yet in our Lord’s darkest hour of need, Peter turned his back on Him!
And now, back to our discussion of How God Treats Sinners. When we consider the events of Pentecost as they pertain to our current study, our minds typically go to the 3000 or souls who received the remission of their sins on that day (see Acts 2.41). However, as we conclude our study of this subject, I want us to force our minds away from the masses and toward one man, i.e. the apostle Peter. “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them…” Peter was God’s first public spokesperson for the realized gospel, but this same Peter denied the Christ some seven or so weeks earlier. As if that was not bad enough, it is entirely possible that some of the very people that heard curse and say, “I do not know the Man!”(Matthew 26.34), were now hearing him say, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2.36).
As a reader, I hope you can see where we are going with this. Peter was a sinner just as his hearers were, maybe even to a greater extent (in man’s perception). Yet, God chose Peter as the primary spokesperson to deliver the first realized gospel sermon. More will be said tomorrow, but this pointed question is posed, “Does God treat sinners the way I do or would?”
1. On the night of His betrayal and arrest, why did Peter deny Christ? What motivated him?
2. Is it possible that some who heard Peter on Pentecost also heard him at the Passover? If so, what excuse might some of them have used for not listening to Peter in Acts 2?
3. Multiple choice question: If someone refused to hear Peter on Pentecost because of Peter’s denial on Passover, who would bear the final responsibility for that refusal? (A) Peter, (B) God, (C) The individual hearer, (D) All the above, or (E) none of the above
4. From what source is it acceptable for me to refuse to hear truth? THINK!!!
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