Tuesday, September 15, 2009

9/15- Acts 2:22-24 Gospel preaching in Acts

Devotional using scripture, Calvin, a thought and prayer for the day- compliments the Jesus in the Gospels Disciples Bible study.

9/15 Acts 2:22-24;

22"Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (Acs 2:22-24- ESV)

Calvin abridged Acts 2:22-24: Peter applies here the prophecy of Joel that the Jews may know that the time of restoration had come. The only way this prophecy would be fulfilled was by the coming of the Mediator. Gradually Peter affirms that Jesus was the Christ- that he was a man sent rom God, proved by his miracles, rising from the dead. He was more than a prophet, but the very Son of God, the repairer of all things. There are three names given to the miracles that testified that Jesus was sent of God; great works- because God shows forth his power; wonders- because they make us astonished; signs- because the Lord will have our minds stay here, but to be lifted higher; 23 “you killed”- the death of Christ is mentioned that the resurrection might be more easily believed. It was well known among the Jews that Christ was crucified. Therefore it is a great and wonderful token of his Divine power that he rose again. He says that they killed him; not that they were the ones who actually nailed him to the cross, but because the people, with one voice desired to have him put to death. And although many of those he wrote too did not consent to the wickedness and cruelty of the crucifixion, yet he speaks to the whole group of us; because all of us have defiled ourselves either with silence or apathy. The guilt which they feel because of his charge is preparation for repentance. “According to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God”- Why should such a wonderful man, then greatly slandered and treated rudely, suffer such a terrible death? It is because the cross is so troubling that Peter says that he didn’t suffer by chance or accident, or even because he chose to die himself, but because it was so determined (appointed) by God. God decrees nothing without cause or rashly. So there was an important cause for Christ’s suffering. It was by God’s plan that the innocent was condemned for our sins, and that his blood was the price for our death. We can learn something of God’s providence for us: that our life as well as our death is governed by it. The foreknowledge and the decree of God are spoken of here by Luke, and should be distinguished by us. The foreknowledge of God is first in order (because God first sees what he will determine), but the plan or decree of God is not left out so we may know that God doesn’t plan anything without thinking of its end long ago. People often rashly decree many things, because they decree them suddenly. So Peter couples God’s plan to His foreknowledge. God doesn’t just know and sit idly by in heaven. The Scriptures teach God’s special care and governance. The Scriptures guide us and keep us from making foolish speculation. For example, some may foolishly ask if Christ’s bones be broken. But It was prophesied, appointed, and determined that they would not be (Jn. 19:36). Thus providence frees us from over-speculation, and sets limits for us. 24- “Loosing the pangs [sorrows/agony] of death”- By the pangs of death I understand something more than the bodily sense or feeling. Death doesn’t have the same power or quality now that if had naturally (in Adam)- because in the victory of Christ the curse is swallowed up (I Cor. 15:54). Sorrows prick at us, but they do not wholly wound us as long as we hold up the shield of faith. The reason why is added- it is impossible that Christ should be oppressed by death since he is the author of life.
Thought: In Acts the message of the gospel [hermeneutic] given by both Peter and Paul contain some basic thoughts- that Christ lived, Christ died, and Christ rose again. In this passage, preached at the birth of the Church (Pentecost), Peter also included a section on how human will and God’s plan interacted. God used even the actions of the wicked to accomplish his purpose. This is an illustration of Romans 8:28 (all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose). The good is seen only by those who believe. For to the secular person- they see only the cross and do not see or believe the resurrection. They stop their belief with death. For the believers, there is another, deeper, better side to life- the side that goes beyond death and wickedness- to our own resurrection and hope- and ultimately to God Himself. The good news is not just the crucifixion, it also is the resurrection.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your providence that brings about your good for our wicked world. Give us grace and strength to stay on your side; keeping our eye beyond the cross and its influence of death.

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