Acts 021 – Israel Rejects Her KingActs 3:13-18 • Dr. Andy Woods • May 3, 2023 • Acts
Israel Rejects Her King
May 3, 2023
Dr. Andy Woods
Let’s take our Bibles this evening and open them to Acts chapter 3 and verse 13. Continuing Wednesday evenings are verse by verse teaching through the Book of Acts. Okay. Acts 1 is the ascension of Jesus. Acts 2 is the birth of the church. And now we’re into Acts 3, where it’s a miraculous healing. A man about forty years old who had been lame from birth. Peter, in the temple area, has an opportunity to miraculously heal him. That’s in verses 1 through 11. And there is a great throng of people in the temple area that witnessed that miracle- we studied it last time verses 1 through 11- giving Peter an opportunity to preach his second sermon. The second sermon is recorded in verses 12 through 26. So last time we looked at the healing and now we move into the content of Peter’s second sermon. The sermon basically has two parts to it. Part one, Peter’s point is Israel as a nation rejected her Messiah. Not that individual Jews can’t get saved. They do. We saw that in the prior chapter where 3000 were saved. But nationally, the nation, in terms of its leadership, made a decision to reject their own king, their own Messiah. So that’s what Peter is going to be talking about there in verses 12 through 18. So verses 12 through 18 is rejection. Verses 19 through 26, which I really don’t think we’ll be getting to tonight.
And I heard some people say amen to that. You’re right about that. Not only will we not be getting it to it tonight, probably not even this quarter. No, We’ll definitely be getting to it sooner than that. But verses 19 through 26 is Israel’s responsibility. What Israel has to do to get right with God so that her kingdom can come. And that’s basically talking about what they’re going to do in the distant future. So 12 through 18 rejection. 19 through 26 verses of chapter 3 is responsibility. So tonight we’re focused on her rejection. So there’s an occasion for a sermon because this miraculous healing has occurred and this man who couldn’t walk can now walk. And verse 12 is sort of the occasion of the whole sermon. Everybody was sort of crediting Peter and John for the healing. But Peter and John says, we’re not responsible for the healing. The one who actually did the healing is Jesus. He just is healing from the Father’s right hand. Just as He healed people on the earth, He’s healing now people from the Father’s right hand. So that gets a big crowd of people interested, as you can imagine. If somebody that has a infirmity from birth is instantaneously healed. So that creates the crowd necessary for the sermon. And so you have verses 13 through 15 the rejection by the nation in the sermon. You have verse 16, Jesus is responsible for the healing and then you have a conclusion verses 17 and 18.
So taking a look here at this section entitled Rejection. Their rejection of the Messiah is sort of detailed now by Peter. And that little section there has about five parts to it. So notice what Peter says there in verse 13. Now that he’s got everybody’s attention, he says, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he decided to release Him.” So Peter just gets right to the point here and he says, number one, God sent His Son. You see that there at the beginning of verse 13, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified Him.” So you’ll notice that Peter, in his mind, there’s no disconnection between Jesus and Judaism. I mean, who is Jesus? He’s the fulfillment of God’s program through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is why the early church was meeting in the temple. This is why Peter and John, Acts 3:1 routinely went to the temple for prayer because they didn’t see themselves as, Okay, now we’re believers in Jesus. Let’s dump all this Jewish stuff. They saw Judaism, the Hebrew program as a nation, all of her promises and covenants as pointing to Jesus Christ. So that’s why Peter refers to the God of Abraham, Isaac and of Jacob. He says that God has taken His servant, Jesus and glorified Him.
That was actually something that Jesus prayed in the upper room just prior to His death. In the upper room. He prayed in John 17:15. I think it is. I might have the verse on that wrong. Might not be John 17:15. I think it’s John 17:5 if I’ve got that right. It says, “Now, Father, glorify me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” So Jesus prayed that the Father would glorify Him. And Peter is making the point here that God sent His Son, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And that God, God, the Father glorified God, the Son. He glorified His servant, Jesus Christ. Right there in verse 13: “His servant, Jesus.” And it is interesting to me that Jesus is referred to as a servant, which shows me that man could not have written the Bible. I mean, if God incarnate stepped out of eternity into time, onto planet Earth, if I was writing the biblical story, I would talk about how that God came to subdue and to rule as an authority figure. Not so the way the Bible reads. Jesus came to serve. There’s no story in human history anything quite like this, where God came into our world to serve us. In Mark 10:45, it says of Jesus, “For even the son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,”
Well, how did Jesus serve? It goes on in Mark 10:45, and it says, “to give His life as a ransom for many.” So Jesus was the ultimate servant. Now, don’t get me wrong, He is coming back one day to rule and reign. But the first time he came into our world was to serve. And that’s what Peter is mentioning here in his sermon. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our Father, has glorified Him, His servant, Jesus. In fact, there’s a section in the Old Testament that you might want to know about. It’s in the book of Isaiah. It’s called The Servant Songs. Where it starts to develop the servant of God. And as you move your way through that section, you start to see that the servant is going to be an individual who was going to pay the penalty for the sins of the world. And ultimately bring His kingdom in. And you might want to jot this down. It’s in Isaiah 49 through 57. The final part of the Book of Isaiah consists of basically three about nine chapter increments. And one of those chapters is what we call the servant songs, chapters 49 through 57. And so that’s kind of an exciting thing. And that was written 700 years before Jesus ever showed up. So long before Mark 10:45, which I read to you a second ago, which says, “For even the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
It was already outlined in the servant songs, Isaiah 49 through 57, exactly what Jesus would do and exactly what He would be. He would be the ultimate servant. That’s why Jesus said things like this. If you want to be great in the kingdom, then you’ve got to become the servant of all. And so it kind of shapes our philosophy of life as Christians. We’re not really here as Christians to be served, but we’re here to serve other people. And he goes on and he says, God sent his son in the sermon. And then he says, You, that’s the nation of Israel, delivered him over to Pilate. And you see that also in verse 13. “His servant, Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him.” So Peter here is pretty clear that first century Israel is guilty of rejecting the One Who came as their king. Peter made the same point in his first sermon in Acts chapter 2. He says, “this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you-” That’s Israel- “nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men, and you put Him to death.” So he’s getting in the sermon to the point that Israel rejected her king. First century Israel’s leadership is guilty of doing that.
So God sent His Son. You delivered him to Pilate. And when you did that, you as a nation, Peter is saying, rejected the Holy and the Righteous One and notice, if you will, verse 14, “But you disowned the Holy and Righteous one and asked for a murderer to be granted to you.” Now you notice this expression, Notice when he says “Holy and Righteous One,” he’s giving now titles in the Sermon of Jesus. And I just went through and I made a list of all the titles of Jesus Christ that you can find in this sermon. So if you were to read Peter’s sermon, you would discover six titles. One of them I’ve got listed at the end there that’s already been used. He’s called the Servant. We’re going to return to that when we get to verse 26. But he uses two more titles here. I mean, who is Jesus Christ exactly? He is number one, the Holy One. Number two, verse 14, He is also the Righteous. The Righteous One. So he’s holy and righteous. He is the only one that fulfilled the requirements of the law perfectly. There’s no one that’s been able to keep the Mosaic Law other than Jesus. That’s why Jesus had to be the last dominant figure in the dispensation of the law. Which started at Mount Sinai and ended on the just before the day of Pentecost when the church started.
Jesus had to be the end of that dispensation because He is the only one that could fulfill every single demand of the law. So despite the fact that He fulfilled the Mosaic law in perfection, the nation of Israel rejected Him. But you’ll notice that He is not just the Holy One, but He is the Righteous One as well. And I’m going to keep returning to this list of six because it’s amazing how Peter takes all of these titles and sort of weaves them together into one sermon. And Peter’s sermons, the best I can tell, are not like the sermons you get here where I have a chance to study in advance. You know, I can study and prepare and put my PowerPoint together and put my outline together. The best I can tell, Peter’s sermons, as is Stephen’s tremendous sermon that’s coming up in Acts 7, were totally spontaneous. So this is the kind of thing that Jesus said to the disciples. He said, Look, don’t prepare in advance what you’re going to say because when the pressure’s on, the Holy Spirit is going to give you the words. That’s not to say that pastors shouldn’t prepare sermons. It’s saying that in the midst of fire, in the midst of persecution, in the midst of spontaneity, you’re not going to have a manuscript to deal with or read from. And the Holy Spirit is going to guide you into exactly what to say.
And it’s amazing how those that prediction happened in Acts 2, as Peter preached one of the greatest sermons ever…from total spontaneity. And then in Acts 3, he’s preaching another sermon as a supposedly untrained and unlearned fisherman, totally from spontaneity as a result of the healing. And Stephen, the first deacon in the church- the deacons haven’t been appointed yet. They’re going to be appointed in Acts six. But Stephen, the first deacon, preached yet another tremendous sermon from total spontaneity. And so it’s just amazing how the Holy Spirit works in the lives of these men. So he says to him, verse 14, “But you disowned the Holy and the Righteous One,” And then the second part of the verse says, “[you] asked for a murderer to be granted to you,” And that’s obviously referring to the crowd wanting Barabbas instead of Jesus. You remember the option was given to them. Shall I release Jesus to you or shall I release a convicted criminal, Barabbas? And the Israeli crowd- see how Peter is weaving all of this in to show their guilt? They weren’t interested in Jesus being released. They were interested in Barabbas being released. A stunning miscarriage of justice. Matthew 27:25-26 says, “All the people replied, “His blood-” That’s Jesus’ blood- “shall be upon us and our children!” Then he-” that’s Pilate- “released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus flogged, he handed Him over to be crucified.”
So give us Barabbas instead of Jesus. And that’s what Pilate gave them. And obviously, a nation wouldn’t do that unless they were totally guilty in rejecting their king, rejecting their true savior, rejecting their true messiah. The nation of Israel went so far in their rejection of Jesus that they made this statement. John 19:15. Let me just read the whole verse to you. “So they shouted, ‘Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!’ Pilate,” who’s the Roma, basically trying to talk them out of this. Because remember, Pilate’s wife had a dream. And basically she told Pilot, you don’t want anything to do with this, the crucifixion of this man. This man is innocent. So Pilate sort of kept wiggling there towards the end, trying to carve out some kind of way by which Jesus could be released. Hey, I’ll give you the choice. Do you want Barabbas or Jesus released? And they wanted Barabbas released. And then John 19:15 says, “So they shouted, ‘Away with Him, away with Him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them,” See how pilots trying to get out of this? “‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests-” that’s the religious leaders of the whole nation- “answered [and said], ‘We have no king except Caesar.'” I mean, they’re very clear. We do not want this man to be our king. We do not want this man to rule over us. We do not want this man to reign over us.
And these are the things that Peter is surfacing here in his sermon, explaining very clearly that the nation of Israel is guilty. This is the summation of John 1:11 which says of Jesus, John writing, “He came to his own,” Now, who’s his own? His own is Israel. “He came to his own, and those who were his own did not receive Him.” So He came on schedule, prophetically, right down to the exact day of the triumphal entry- we’ll talk about that in just a second- presenting His messianic credentials to the nation of Israel. Exactly on time. Exactly with the right genealogy. Fulfilling multiple prophecies. Being the right nationality Himself. Fulfilling countless miracles. And He came right to His own nation and His own nation said, you know, we don’t want this man to reign over us. So it’s one of those great tragedies of history. And so all of this is the outworking of it. So God sent His Son, verse 13. But you, Peter says, delivered him over to Pilate. Second part of verse 13. In the process, you rejected the one who is Holy and Righteous. The Holy one and the Righteous one, giving the first two names of the Messiah in the sermon. And then he goes down into verse 15 and he says, You killed the prince of life. You know, you get the idea that Peter didn’t go to a school that taught him how to preach, you know, seeker friendly messages.
I mean, he’s going right for the- he’s going right for the jugular here. You look at verse 15 and it says, “but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.” Now you’ll notice that Jesus here is called the Prince of Life. He is not called the king. He is called the prince. Now, why is Jesus called the prince and not the king? Because He was never coronated by His own nation. And until He is coronated by His own nation, He will not function as king. So other titles are given to Him like Prince. The only crown that Jesus received was a crown of thorns, which was designed to injure Him, ridicule Him, mock Him, et cetera. And so now you can add another title of the many that Peter is surfacing here in this single sermon. Jesus, in addition to being the Holy One, the Righteous One, is also called the Prince of life- not the king, but the prince. 600 years before Jesus showed up, it was predicted by Gabriel, given to Daniel during the Babylonian captivity, that this would happen. Notice what it says here. It says, “Then after the sixty-two weeks,” in other words, in between the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Between that decree and Palm Sunday, there’s going to be exactly 483 years. A Jewish year is 360 days. So there’s going to be 173,880 days.
173,880 days after Nehemiah 2, Palm Sunday would occur. Jesus would come into Jerusalem on a donkey, presenting His messianic credentials. And His own nation would reject Him. That is a very sad reality that took place in the Gospels. But that reality was predicted by the prophet Daniel in Babylon as Daniel received a prophecy from Gabriel 600 years in advance. And here’s what the prophecy says: Then after sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off,” That’s a reference to the crucifixion. Palm Sunday they rejected Him. Not long after that was the crucifixion the following week. “the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing.” When it says “have nothing,” what it’s saying is He will not inherit his kingdom. His kingdom will not be established through Him. His long awaited kingdom will not come to Him. He will be cut off from his inheritance, just like He will be crucified and He will have absolutely nothing. God, as an act of discipline on Israel for doing this would do the following. It says, “the people of the prince who is to come-” Now this is talking about Titus of Rome- “will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” That’s talking about A.D. 70. “And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.” So, 483 years after the decree of Nehemiah 2. Does that mean I have to start all over? Okay, good. I can do that.
Yeah. 483 years after the decree of Nehemiah 2, the Messiah would show up, He would be cut off and He would not inherit His kingdom. That’s why He is called, in this prophecy, the prince who is to come. He’s not the king. He’s not the king because the nation never coronated Him as king. I bring this up because there’s a whole movement within Christianity today called millennialism, which basically teaches that Jesus established His kingdom in spiritual form in the first century. Obviously that cannot be true based on Daniel 9:26, where it’s very clear that the Messiah would be cut off and inherit nothing. His kingdom would not be in a state of cancellation, but in a state of what? Postponement. So He is going to get his kingdom one day. But it’s contingent upon the nation of Israel coordinating their king. So this rejection of Jesus is something that Peter here is bringing up. So that’s why Peter here calls Jesus not the king, but the Prince of life. He’s called the Prince of life because He’s the one that gives life. Even though He’s not king, he has the power at the Father’s right hand to give eternal life to whoever will trust in Him. In John 3:36, it says of Jesus, “[The one who] believes in the Son has eternal life; but [the one who] does not obey the son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
He’s not king. He’s Prince. But He’s still the prince of life because He has the power to give eternal life to whoever will believe or trust in Him. Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes, “The problem Amillennialism faces-” That’s Kingdom Now theology, that’s the belief that Jesus started His kingdom in the first century. Which, by the way, is what most of Christians have believed in ever since the time of Augustine, who started this heretical teaching. Going back to the fourth century. Most Christians, by way of denominational affiliation, are sitting in churches that teach Kingdom Now theology, Amillennialism. Most people are taught it over and over again without really realizing what it is. It’s a very different system than what we teach here at Sugar Land Bible Church. We teach that the Kingdom promises are not spiritual but literal. Israel’s rejection of her king did not cancel those promises, but put them into a state of postponement. We’re waiting for those prophecies to be fulfilled. Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes, “The problem Amillennialism faces is that while the Bible portrays the relationship between Christ and the Church in various metaphors (head and body, groom and bride, vine and branches, foundation and stones of the building, etc.) king and kingdom is not one of them…” The church, in other words, is not described as king, subject. It’s described as head, body, our relationship to Jesus. Groom, Bride, our relationship to Jesus. Vine, branches in terms of our relationship to Jesus.
Foundations and stones of the building, in terms of our relationship to Jesus. But the metaphor of King, subject is not used. “king and kingdom is not one of them…Christ indeed is referred to as the head of the Church, but never its king.” Now, let me be very, very clear. He’s been anointed as king. And He will reign as king. But currently He is not king. He is not functioning in the regal office as king. And the reason He is not functioning in the regal office as king is because the nation didn’t coronate Him when they could have and when they should have back in the first century. So this is why, Peter, as he’s describing these different titles of Christ, is very careful not to call Jesus the king of life, but the prince of life. And believe me, folks, I realize how many worship songs what I’m saying will ruin. Because all these new worship songs coming out today are all about Jesus King and King Jesus, and we’re in the kingdom and we’re building the kingdom. That, theologically we don’t think is accurate at all. We think the kingdom is in a state of postponement, not cancellation. And we today are in the church age. So God sent His son, verse 13. You delivered him to Pilate, verse 13. In the process, you rejected the Holy and Righteous One, verse 14. And you actually killed the Prince of life, first part of verse 15.
And in the second part of verse 15, Peter says, “the one whom God raised from the dead,” even though you rejected Him and rushed Him through your judicial system to get Him killed as fast as possible, to get Him turned over to Pilate for execution. God still vindicated Him- God the Father- by resurrecting Him from the dead. One of the things to understand is that in the first century world, Rome had come to power and they had basically- over the land of Israel- taken away from the Jews the right to execute their own criminals. So that’s why the nation of Israel itself could not execute Jesus. They had to just declare His guilt- and they did it falsely- railroad Him through the judicial system, get Him handed over to the Romans so the Romans could execute Him. And Peter here is calling attention to the guilt of first century Israel for doing this very thing. Yet God, the father, vindicated Jesus by resurrecting Him from the dead. That is a point that Peter makes in Acts 3. It’s also a point that he makes in his first sermon back in Acts 2:25-29. You’ll recall in that sermon that Peter quoted Psalm 16:8-11, to prove that that Psalm predicted Christ’s resurrection from the dead. When you study that Psalm, as we have looked at it, you’ll see that it’s a reference to the bodily resurrection of Jesus written about a thousand years in advance.
Peter quotes it in Acts 2 to demonstrate to his hearers in Acts 2 that Jesus rose from the dead. Peter here in Acts 3 is basically saying the same thing. The nation of Israel rejected him, but God the Father vindicated Him by raising Him from the dead. Rejected by his own nation, yes. But also vindicated by God the Father. So what would you rather be- rejected by men or rejected by the Father? I guess if I had my choice, I’d rather be rejected by men, vindicated by the Father rather than the other way around. And this is what happened to Jesus Christ. You’ll notice there I’m in Acts 3:15, end of the verse. It says, “a fact-” resurrection, in other words- “to which we-” the apostles- “are eyewitnesses.” Paul the Apostle in First Corinthians 15:5-11 explains all the people that Jesus appeared to in His resurrected state after He rose from the dead. He appeared to Cephas, verse 5 of First Corinthians 15. The twelve, verse 5. Then the five hundred, verse 6. Then to James, His own half brother, verse 7. Then to the rest of the apostles, verse 7. And then lastly to the Apostle Paul himself, verses 8 through 11. And it’s in this chapter where the apostle Paul says, you know, most of these five hundred witnesses are still alive. Go ahead and go talk to them. First Corinthians 15:6-7.
It says, “After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep. then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles…” So this is what Peter is getting at there in verse 15. You rejected the Prince of life, but God the Father vindicated Him through His bodily resurrection from the dead. And look at all of these eyewitnesses that testify that He was alive subsequent to the resurrection. So it’s a tremendous set of verses. Verse 13, verse 14, verse 15, as Peter is explaining the guilt of first century Israel. And then you go down to verse 16, and he basically explains there that this healing- Remember, they’re all gathered around in the temple area because of this healing of the lame man. And they’re all trying to give Peter and John credit for the healing. And Peter is saying the healing didn’t come from us. It came from Jesus who’s functioning now at the Father’s right hand. This is his point in verse 16. “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man-” the man born lame- “whom you see and know.” Peter made the same point in Acts chapter 2 concerning the languages that the Apostles were speaking in. People were saying, Oh, that’s just drunkenness, that’s just sweet wine. Peter says that’s nonsense. These disciples have the ability to speak in languages, known languages that they’ve never studied because Jesus is performing the miracle through the apostles from the Father’s right hand.
Now, Peter says Jesus is doing His second miracle from the Father’s right hand. He is the one that, through Peter and John, brought this lame man complete and total healing. So Jesus was a miracle worker. He was a miracle worker when He was on the earth. And now He’s continuing to work miracles from the Father’s right hand in heaven. Acts 2:22 Peter makes the point that Jesus was a miracle worker. He says, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know-” In fact so accurate is the testimony of Christ’s miracles that even the first century historian Josephus, outside of the Bible writing just a shade- a little bit after the time of Christ- makes reference to the historical miracles of Jesus. He calls Him the Christ. And Josephus says, “For he was one who performed surprising deeds.” He was a miracle worker. Anybody that knew Jesus knew He was a miracle worker. And Peter’s point is, just because the nation rejected Him doesn’t mean He stopped performing miracles. He resurrected from the dead. He ascended back to the Father’s right hand. He is now functioning as high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
And although he’s not yet functioning as king. Israel has to coronate Him before he can function as king on the earth. He’s still doing miracles. So the miraculous Ministry of Jesus is continuing in His present session at the Father’s right hand is Peter’s point in verse 16. Now look at the second half of verse 16. There’s a lot of theological controversy that I hope to resolve at least a little bit of it. It says in the faith which comes through him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all. See where it says “the faith which comes through Him”? Let me read the whole verse, verse 16. “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given Him this perfect health in the presence of you all.” There is a doctrine known as Calvinism, Neo-calvinism, which is the idea that the lost sinner, because of their deadness and trespasses and sins, does not have any ability to believe the gospel when it’s presented to them. So what has to happen according to this doctrine is God has to give the gift of faith to certain people. And if God does not give the gift of faith to certain people, those people could never believe and be saved. So man is sort of dead like a rock. He has no ability to believe, even when he hears the gospel.
And the fact that anybody believes the gospel means that God gave the people that believe the gospel the gift of faith. So it really isn’t their faith. It’s God’s faith. Now who gets the gift of faith? The elect do. The small fraction of the human race that God has elected to salvation. Because according to Calvinism, some people are elected unto salvation. Other people are elected unto damnation. John Calvin himself said of people not elected unto salvation, they are doomed from the womb. In other words, it doesn’t matter how many times you preach the gospel to them. If they’re not one of the elect, they’re not imparted divine faith. They have no ability to believe, and they’re just following into their job description of going into hell forever where God is glorified in that somehow. Dave Hunt wrote a book called What Love is This? This is not the love of God. I mean, that kind of teaching is very hard to square with Second Peter 3:9, which says, God is not willing that any should perish, but all to come to repentance. So one of the biggest teachers of this doctrine today is John MacArthur. And in his book The Gospel According to the Apostles, he writes this, “Either way, the meaning is inescapable.” In other words, this is an inescapable conclusion, this doctrine of Calvinism.
“Faith is God’s gracious gift. Jesus explicitly affirmed this truth: ‘No man can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father’ (John 6:65). Faith is also spoken of as a divine gift in Acts 3:16.” That’s why I’m bringing this up right now, because what verse are we in? Acts 3:16. So I’m not just doing a broadside against Calvinists and Calvinism. I’m bringing it up where it’s appropriate in the text. Acts 3:16 says, “the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.” Supposedly this doctrine that faith is a gift is found in Philippians 1:29. “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” And supposedly this doctrine that faith is a gift comes from Second Peter 1:1, which says, “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who received a faith of the same kind as ours.” Faith is a gift. In fact, when I came to Sugar Land Bible Church, this concept that faith is a gift had found its way into the position statements of Sugar Land Bible Church. There was an elder board that got on there subsequent to the original founders of the church. Earl Doyle is sitting right out there. I’m sure he could tell you a lot about it. Earl being one of the good guys, not the bad guys. And they became more of a Calvinistic John MacArthur persuasion and they changed the position statements of Sugar Land Bible Church to teach that faith is a gift.
And so we were fortunate to- when I came and we got the right elders- to change it back to what it originally said. So when you read the position statements of Sugar Land Bible Church, you’re looking at the position statements that go back to the foundation of the church in 1983, roughly, where Sugar Land Bible Church did not teach faith as a gift, did not teach this warped Calvinistic doctrine. So in that particular position statement, it would quote all of these types of verses that John MacArthur is quoting here. And so there’s a lot of people in the body of Christ basically running around saying faith is a gift. You can’t believe on your own. Even when you hear the gospel and you’re convicted by the Holy Spirit, you can’t believe because you’re dead like a rock. And you ask them, Well, how does anybody believe? Oh God has to infuse the gift of faith into a person. Then they have the ability to believe because it’s not their faith, it’s God’s faith. Well, who gets the gift of faith? Only the elect. The small fraction of humanity that’s elected unto salvation. Well, what about everyone else? Well, they’re elected unto hell to begin with. They’re doomed from the womb as John Calvin said. And so as they’re being tormented in hell forever and ever, having really never received an opportunity to believe because they can’t.
As the smoke arises to the nose of God, somehow He’s glorified in that. That’s a sickness, folks. If that’s who you believe God is. I would say you have a very distorted view of God’s love. God loves everybody. Jesus died for everybody. And the whole world is savable. Now they’re not saved until they trust in the Messiah, but they’re savable. And when the gospel is preached, which is the power of God unto salvation, and it’s testified through the convicting Ministry of the Spirit, which Jesus said in John 16:7-11 goes into the whole world. Every human being has an opportunity to believe the gospel. But a lot of people don’t believe that. They think faith is a gift. One of the best articles that I’ve ever read counter arguing against the John MacArthur position was written by my classmate, Dr. Rene Lopez. We were in the doctoral program at Dallas Seminary at the same time. You can find his article. In fact, maybe I should- I think we have it on PDF. Maybe we should make copies of it and put it in the back for people to read. Jim can you look into that? I think we’ve done that before. Thank you, brother. And what Dr. Lopez does is he goes through all of these verses that John MacArthur is using to teach this doctrine that faith is a gift. And he is showing him- showing in the article to the reader that MacArthur is taking all of them out of context.
It doesn’t matter how many verses you can string together to support your doctrine if the verses themselves are ripped out of context. And one of the verses that is ripped out of context, according to Dr. Rene Lopez is Acts 3:16. Because MacArthur wants Acts 3:16 to read- particularly at the end when it says the faith which comes through him. Meaning that this man only believed because he received the gift of faith. That’s how MacArthur wants it to read. Dr. Lopez says there’s an entirely different reading to that verse. And here’s his explanation. Dr. Lopez, responding to Dr. MacArthur, says, concerning Acts 3:16, “…says that the phrase ‘faith which comes through Him’ means that faith is a divine gift. However, in the first part of this verse, faith is the means by which the healing took place, and ‘in His name-‘” quote- “stresses the object (God) [of that faith]. The latter half of the passage is repetitious in order to rule out anything magical about the source of the healing. The man’s faith in Peter’s words resulted in healing through Jesus.” Quote- “‘Such faith was possible through [Jesus]: the proclamation of his power made it possible for people to believe.’ Therefore, nothing in Acts 3:16, supports the gift-of-faith view.” In other words, this man had the ability to believe because of Peter’s proclamation.
Peter made the proclamation. Hearing the proclamation, now, the man had the ability to exercise his own faith, which he did. So I just kind of submit that to you because you’ll find this decent response in all of these other verses that MacArthur is using to support this faith as a gift concept. I mean, ask yourself this question: Why did Jesus say things like this in the gospels, concerning people- Gentiles, for example- that believed on Him? Jesus would say, I’ve never seen such great faith in all of Israel. He would marvel at people’s faith. Well, why would Jesus be marveling at people’s faith? If their faith wasn’t their own? Does that make sense? I mean, if God gave them the faith, there’s no sense in complimenting people for having great faith. So here is the truth of the matter. The gospel is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit will convict people of their need to believe the Gospel, but the Holy Spirit is not going to believe for you. He will bring you to the point of decision through conviction, but He will not believe for you. If God believed for you, He would be overriding how your manufactured. You’re manufactured in His image. And being an image bearer of God means you have volition even in your fallen state, you have volition. Genesis 9:6 tells us that in our fallen state, we’re still made in God’s image. So if God came out, came up with a method of salvation that overrides people’s ability to believe, He’s overriding how He’s manufactured us- you see that? That’s why we at Sugar Land Bible Church reject this faith as a gift idea.
That’s why the elder board that changed the position statements and put that language in- they were wrong in doing so. And it was right for a subsequent elder board to reverse the position statements back to what they originally said. So when you join this church, you read those position statements and you had no idea all of this went on- Right? And some of you are saying to yourself, well, I wish we still didn’t know. Why did you tell us all that? Because words mean things- That’s why. I mean, we’re very serious about what we teach here theologically. You come now to the conclusion of the sermon, verses 17 and 18. The conclusion has two parts. Don’t worry, it’ll go by fast. And this is actually not the conclusion of the whole sermon. This is the conclusion of the first part of the sermon. The second part of the sermon- Israel’s responsibility- is coming next week. But look at verse 17. “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as also your rulers did.” Peter here makes a very interesting point, that the nation of Israel turned Jesus over to Rome for execution out of ignorance. They really didn’t know what they were doing. Now, I believe it was an ignorance that was willful.
They should have known had they investigated. But they really didn’t know exactly what they were doing. Surely some of first century Israel knew exactly what they were doing. I think Judas knew exactly what was happening. Annas and Caiaphas knew exactly what they were doing, but the majority had no idea. They were just swept along with the crowd. Paul the Apostle in First Corinthians 2:8, makes reference to Israel’s ignorance. It says the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood. For if they understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. They wouldn’t have done what they did if they knew what they were doing. They were ignorant. This is why Jesus, when He is hanging on the cross- what does He say there in Luke 23:34? “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And so Peter here is sort of reiterating the ignorance of first century Israel. And even as they were acting in ignorance, the amazing thing about it is they were fulfilling prophecy. They were fulfilling a script that God had preordained for His Son. And you see that there in verse 18. “But the things which God announced beforehand, by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.” The death of Christ fulfilled countless Old Testament prophecies. This is why Jesus in Luke 24:27, it says, when He was walking on the Emmaus Road, after He rose from the dead, speaking to His disciples, “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself and all of the Scriptures.”
And then down in verse 44, it says, “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words, which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.'” Jesus in chapter 5, verse 39. John 5:39, said that the Pharisees, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these-” the Scriptures- “that testify about Me.” John 5:46, “For if you believe Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.” This explains Paul’s ministry. Why he would go into the synagogue first in the Book of Acts to reason with the Jews from their own scriptures. Acts 17:1-3, “Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul’s custom,” this is what he did regularly, “he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reason with them from the Scriptures,” that would be the Old Testament- right? There’s no New Testament yet. “explaining and giving evidence that Christ had to suffer and rise [again] from the dead, and saying, ‘This is the Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.'”
This is why Paul presents the gospel the way he does. [1 Cor. 15:3-4] “For a handed down to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures-” That’s the Old Testament- “and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures.” Hey, when you share the faith with unsaved people, do you include that? That Jesus died for you and rose from the dead according to the Old Testament which predicted hundreds and thousands of years in advance exactly what He would do? Don’t leave that out. That’s an important part of the gospel- the Gospel presentation. Even the first century historian Josephus, who I alluded to earlier, refers to Jesus, the Christ “for the prophets of God [had] foretold these things…” So the manner of Christ’s birth is predicted 700 years in advance. Isaiah 7:14. As is the place of His birth, His nationality, His tribe, the time He would come and the response He would receive to His Messiah-ship. You see all the Old Testament scriptures that are fulfilled. The fact that He would be crucified between thieves, as predicted, 700 years in advance. Isaiah 53:9. As is the fact that He would be pierced. That none of His bones would be broken. That they would gamble for His clothing and that He would be buried in a rich man’s tomb. Psalm 22 is amazing on this. Thousand years in advance predicts that the Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced, verse 16.
None of his bones would be broken, verse 17. That they would cast lots for his garments, verse 18. That’s a thousand years before it happened. Isaiah 53:5, 700 years in advance, predicts He’d be pierced. Zechariah 12:10, 500 years in advance, predicts He would be pierced. Daniel 9:26, that we referred to earlier, predicts He would be cut off and not inherit the kingdom. So this is what is bound up in Peter’s statement as he concludes the first half of his sermon. “But the things which God announced beforehand, by the mouth of [all] the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.” By the way, did you see another title for Jesus there? He’s the Christ. He’s the Holy One, verse 14. The Righteous one, verse 14. The Prince of Life, verse 15. He is also the Christ. What does Christ mean? Is Christ His last name? Hey, Mr. Christ. Can I have a moment of your time? Christ is not His last name. Christ-,christos, means the Messiah. In Hebrew Bible it’s called Mashiach, the Anointed One, the Messiah. In Greek New Testament, he’s called Christos or the Christ or the Messiah. And so look at all of these titles of Jesus just in these few verses here: Holy one, Righteous One, Prince of Life, Christ or the Messiah. You can throw in the very end there, which we’ve already covered.
He’s also the servant. More on that when we get to verse 26. And so what is Peter’s point here as he has this audience because of this healing? He’s basically pointing his finger at first century Israel and he’s saying, you rejected Him. This is who you rejected. Now, fortunately for them, the sermon doesn’t stop there. Because in verses 19 through 26, which we’re going to try to cover next week, he starts talking now in the second half of his sermon about what you, Israel, have to do to get things right. And things need to be made right because you messed it up. And he starts to articulate the repentance that they will have to go through to bring in the times of refreshing and the restoration of all things which is the kingdom- which currently is in a state of postponement because Israel never coronated her king in the first century. Here’s how the coronation is going to happen, though, in the distant future. And he’s going to explain that in verses 19 through 26. So I don’t know. You’ll have to wait for next week for that one.