Focus Text: Acts 2
This message is the first of five in the miniseries that will complete our study of the general subject of How God Treats Sinners. Regardless of what else we may have discovered in this series, I think we can all conclude that God does not always treat sinners the way we would treat them, and for that, we ought all to be thankful! Jonah, an otherwise godly man, would have preferred to have the Ninevites lost rather than have to go and preach to them. On one occasion James and John wanted to call fire down from heaven to destroy a group of Samaritans (see Luke 9.51-54); Jesus went out of His way to teach and convert a number of Samaritans (see John 4). Jesus put it succinctly when He said, “For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” (Luke 9.56).
This final view of how God treats sinners will be taken in its entirety from Acts 2, the chapter that records many, many firsts. For the first time the gospel was preached as a realized plan and not merely in promise; for the first time, the salvation that was made possible by the blood of Christ became a reality; for the first time the doors of the church were flung open by the apostles and this in keeping with the authority Jesus gave them; for the first time Jesus was announced as being at God’s own right hand occupying the throne of David. This great chapter has been styled The Hub of the Bible because, like the hub of a wheel, so many things come together in Acts 2.
Every generation and culture of man loves to think of itself as the enlightened generation or enlightened culture. We love to compare ourselves to those who have gone before, sometimes scoffing at the ignorance of our predecessors and vowing that “…we would have never done anything like that.” However, whether we want to admit it or not, almost every generation has a large contingency that loves to think the worst of each and every circumstance. When the apostles began to speak in the various languages of the crowds gathered on this particular Pentecost Day, some of this ilk were around; they said mockingly, “They are full of new wine!” (Acts 2.13). I would like to think, I would never have done anything like that, but I wonder…!
On this, the most solemn of days, men literally made fun of God’s methods and pointed accusing fingers at His spokespersons. Had I been God, I think that might have just “tipped the scales” enough to cause me to withdraw all offers of grace and wipe out the whole miserable bunch! However, when I consider the fact that He had already endured far more than that, I see why He could withhold swift punishment and opt for second chances to be extended to these scoffers. It is never a light thing to mock God or His ways (Galatians 6.7), but sometimes God allows it, especially when His purposes are far bigger than the foolish deeds of the moment. Such was the case on this Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
We will continue our thoughts from Acts 2 as it relates to How God Treats Sinners, but one point that we have seen time and time again is that God is a God of second, third, fourth, and ad infinitum chances. When our patience has been exhausted, His is fully intact. The time will come when there will be no more time, but because of the way He treats sinners, that time is yet future.
1. Summarize in one short sentence, Jesus’ purpose here upon the earth.
2. Why is Acts 2 sometimes called the hub of the Bible? List some other firsts in that chapter.
3. What was observably strange about the actions of the apostles on Pentecost?
4. Why did God not dealt severely with the scoffers on Pentecost? What larger purpose did He have in view? How did Peter react to these accusations? Did he go on preaching in spite of the scoffers? How might you have reacted?
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