Focus Text: Acts 2
Today’s message completes our study of How God Treats Sinners. Valuable principles have been discussed. Some of these are: 1) God’s love is unconditional, but His pardon is not, 2) How God treats sinners depends upon how sinners treat God, 3) How God treats a person in the physical realm is not an indication of how He sees him in the spiritual realm, 4) It is God’s sincere desire that all men be saved, and 5) God finds no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
Eternal Grace sprouted from the hard craggy hill of Golgotha; in just that manner God used difficult circumstances out of which to grow the Gospel. There is but one perfect man in the entire gospel story, and that includes the gospel in promise and prophecy (the Old Testament), the gospel in preparation (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), the gospel in action (Acts of the Apostles), the gospel maturing (the epistles), and the gospel in eternal triumph (Revelation). Not a single prophet, apostle, teacher, bishop, or disciple ever lived without the need for grace and that from the time of their spiritual birth until the time of their death. Peter was but one of those fallible people who composed the rocky soil in which the gospel had to grow – and he denied Christ less than 60 days before He declared Him to be King of King and Lord of Lords.
Paul made this point in other words; they are, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4.6-7). The treasure is indeed in earthen vessels. Every believer is but a sinner determined to please God while in the flesh and clothed in His grace! We may put on airs, and we may tout our spiritual champions, but we all are but flesh and blood whose salvation depends wholly upon the goodness and mercy of God!
Peter sinned but obviously repented of his error. Judas did not genuinely repent; Jesus said of him, “…none of them [the apostles] is lost except the son of perdition [Judas], that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” (John 17.12). This goes back to the point that the way God treats sinners depends on how sinners treat God. God will punish all sinners who refuse to repent and submit to His will. However, the focus of this series has been to awaken a realization in believers that we are special only because God enabled us to become His adopted sons through His gospel and we availed ourselves of that opportunity. We are what we are because of Him!
We who profess to be believers need to lay aside our pretensions and “get real.” It is totally unrealistic and anti-biblical to see ourselves as better than anyone else. Likewise, we need to divest ourselves of the mistaken idea that our champions are above sin (or at least if they sin, they only commit minor sins). The cold truth is this: Had we been on the “preacher selection committee” for the day of Pentecost, Peter need not apply! Likewise, had we been on the “elder selection committee” for the congregation where Peter worshiped, Peter need not apply (see 1 Peter 5.1). Our earnest desire must be to treat sinners with the same love and respect that God does, to see believers for who they are, but more importantly to see ourselves for who we are!
1. What is an earthen vessel? With what are earthen vessels contrasted? Why did/does God use earthen vessels? (Note: Answer according to 2 Corinthians 6.6-7 and context)
2. What two people did we use in this message to show that God treats sinners according to how they treat Him?
3. What is a minor sin? Who sins? Who sins in a major way? How or why are believers special?
4. Being sinners saved by the grace of God, what is there about which we can boast? How does God treat sinners????
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