Acts 022 – What Does "Repentance" Really Mean?Acts 3:19a • Dr. Andy Woods • May 10, 2023 • Acts
What Does “Repentance” Really Mean?
May 10, 2023
Dr. Andy Woods
If you all can take your Bibles and open them to the Book of Acts 3:19. Last week in the study, we mentioned this article by my classmate, Dr. Renee Lopez. “Is Faith a Gift From God or a Human Exercise?” So, we told you that we’d get copies of it for you. So in the chair on the back, there should be a copy of this paper that we referred to last time. Those of you that are watching online, you’ll find this article as a PDF under last week’s study. So just go to the archive- Acts- and then last week’s study, last week’s date. Let’s see, what’s the date today? The 10th. So last week would be the what? The 3rd? If you go to the study from last week, May 3rd, 2023, you should find this article by way of a PDF. So hopefully that covers all the announcements. Acts chapter 3, where we are in our verse by verse study through the Book of Acts.
There’s a miraculous healing through the- I mean, obviously God is the source, but He used Peter and John as his vessels. Resulting in a man who had been lame really from birth for 40 years, resulting in his miraculous healing. So we studied that, and that gathers a crowd, as you can imagine, and that gives Peter an opportunity to preach his second sermon. The Book of Acts is known for long sermons. So that’s why I like the Book of Acts personally. His first sermon was in Acts 2, and now here comes the Sermon in Acts 3. And the sermon has two parts. Verses 12 through 18 we covered last time. Peter basically told Israel that she was guilty of rejecting her own Messiah. So we talked our way through that. And then fortunately, he doesn’t stop there. He says, here’s what Israel can do nationally to get right with God. And he starts to describe things that are going to happen in her future related to her repentance, verses 19 through 26. So we can outline the second half of this sermon which takes us to the end of the chapter as follows: The necessity of Repentance for Israel, the Results of Repentance- What’s going to happen when Israel repents. And then in the interim, here’s how God is fulfilling prophecy, verses 22 through 26. So let’s start here with the Necessity for Repentance. And notice what Peter says in Acts 3:19.
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the from the presence of the Lord; So when he says repent, what exactly is he talking about? He’s talking about a change of mind. That’s what the word repent means. In Greek, it’s metanoeó- two words making up one word. So it’s a compound word. Two words making up one word. Meta, as in change, as in metamorphosis or your cancer has metastasized. It’s changed from one part of the body to the other. These are words that the medical world uses all of the time. Comes from “meta,” change. And then “noeó,” which refers to ideas or notions which come out of the mind. And so literally, repentance means a change of mind. And when you understand repentance as a change of mind, it becomes not an antonym for faith or believing, but a synonym. An antonym is a word with an opposite meaning. A synonym is a different word with the same meaning. So when a person trusts in Christ for salvation- which is what it means to believe- they put their faith in Christ for salvation. Their mind automatically changes. They’re no longer trusting in themselves and their and their good works, but they’re trusting in the good work Jesus did. And so that’s how to understand repentance when it’s used in this kind of a context.
I’d like to throw up quotes from theologians from the past just to think you guys- so you guys don’t think I’m making things up. Because most people have never heard teaching on repentance and what it really means. So they think it’s some strange new idea. But Lewis Sperry Chafer writes “This vital newness of mind is part of believing, after all, and therefore it may be and is used as a synonym for believing at times. Repentance, nevertheless, cannot be added to believing as a condition of salvation, because upwards of 150 passages of Scripture condition salvation upon believing only.” So the moment you teach the gospel as two steps rather than one step is the moment you’re contradicting 150 passages that indicate there’s one step necessary to be saved. The single step is to believe. The Bible says that 150, probably as high as 160 times. Well, then, okay, then what do you do with repentance? Repentance then becomes a synonym- different words, same meaning- for believing. Because when you believed your mind was changed. So when I got saved, did I believe or did I repent? And the answer would be yes. I did both steps simultaneously. I heard the gospel, I trusted in it, and my mind automatically changed. And so that’s what the apostle Peter is calling Israel to do. It’s just that we know they’re going to do that yet future. This is going to be in the- as Jim was talking about it praying about it in the prayer time-
This is going to be in the events related to the tribulation period. They will believe/repent simultaneously. They’ll believe in the Messiah as a nation and as they’re believing, their minds will change. What does Israel have to change their mind about? They have to change their mind about Matthew 12:24. Matthew 12:24 is the switch in all of Matthew’s gospel. Once Matthew 12:24 happened, it became very clear that the nation was not going to receive their king. So their opportunity to receive the King and the kingdom was withdrawn in Matthew 12:24. And Jesus, who obviously is God in human flesh, began to switch His ministry and He began to talk about the church and He began to talk about how God is going to raise up a remnant within Israel to be part of the church. And He stopped publicly proclaiming His kingship to the nation. At that point, His whole ministry shifts. And so this Matthew outline, which is set up as what what is called a chiasm. The key point of a chiasm is right in the middle and it shows you where the scene change happened. So what did Israel do in Matthew 12:24 which was so bad? They attributed the leadership, Christ’s miracles, to demons. In other words, He performed a miracle in Matthew 12. You can read all about it in that chapter.
They could not explain the miracle away because it was right in front of their face. So they just said, Well, you obviously did that through Satan’s power. So the moment they did that, everything changes for Israel. The offer of the kingdom, which they could have had, is now taken off the table. And if you’re looking for the definition of the unpardonable sin, because that’s the chapter that talks about the unpardonable sin. I mean, everybody is worried about the unpardonable sin. Everybody thinks they’ve committed the unpardonable sin, but nobody knows what the unpardonable sin is. They just know that whatever it is, it’s really bad. So they read that information in there about the unpardonable sin and they think, is it drinking, Is it gambling, is it, you know, whatever. And so everybody is worried about committing it. But the truth of the matter is the unpardonable sin is national. It has nothing to do with what could happen in your life today. It has to do with the Pharisees taking Christ’s miracles, which could not be explained away, attributing them to Satan. And at that point, the offer of the kingdom is taken right off the table. And it’s now curtains for that generation as a nation. It’s not that individual Jews can’t get saved beyond this point. It’s just that the nation as a whole is not going to receive the kingdom. And they’re moving off into the divine discipline of A.D. 70 when the Romans would come and destroy the city and the sanctuary about 40 years later.
That’s basically what the unpardonable sin is. And when you get into the epistles which govern the church, there’s no warnings for us about committing the unpardonable sin. There’s warnings about grieving the Spirit, quenching the spirit, you know those kinds of things. But there’s no warning about don’t commit the unpardonable sin. Because the unpardonable sin has already been committed by the nation. It’s national. And it deals with what happened to Israel as a nation back in the first century. And so this is what happened. It says, “when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man-” that’s Jesus- “casts out demons by Beelzebub the ruler of the demons.” And that becomes the whole switch in Matthew’s gospel. So when Peter says here in Acts 3:19, after describing Israel’s guilt and then at the beginning of verse 19 says, he says, therefore. So he’s described her guilt verses 13 through 18. Then he says, therefore- meaning here’s how the nation can make itself right in the distant future. What do you have to do? You have to repent, change your mind in other words and return. Repent of what? Repent of that statement right there. The nation has to change its mind about what was said by the Pharisees in Matthew 12:24. And it’s not until the nation changes its mind about that national sin right there.
It’s not until that repentance or change of mind happens that- once that change of mind happens, I should say, then and only then the kingdom will come. So there’s coming a point in time in the tribulation period, post rapture, when the nation of Israel will go through this time of Jacob’s distress. They will understand the gospel nationally. They will believe the gospel as a nation. The individuals within the nation making up the whole nation. And once they do that, they will have automatically changed their minds or automatically repented of what first century Israel did in terms of its leadership, attributing Christ’s miracles to Satan. And so this is what Peter says has to happen. What is being described here in Acts 3:19 is not the re-offer of the kingdom. There’s a lot of people out there today saying Peter was re offering the kingdom to Israel here. That is not true. The offer of the kingdom has already been withdrawn. The offer of the kingdom was withdrawn in Matthew 12. I’m hoping you guys know what I mean by offer of the kingdom. First century Israel had a unique opportunity to receive their King Jesus, who was on the earth at the time. And had they done that, the millennial kingdom would have manifested. That’s the kingdom that’s offered all the way through Matthew’s gospel until Matthew 12:24.
Once they go so far as attributing Christ’s miracles to Satan, the offer is withdrawn. So we teach- the way we teach it here is the offer of the kingdom was taken off the table in Matthew 12. Now, a lot of people will say no, the offer of the kingdom just keeps getting re offered in the Book of Acts. And in prior studies we’ve given a number of reasons why that is not true. Number one, in the Book of Acts, there was no king present. Jesus has already ascended back to the Father’s right hand. Number two, in Matthew’s gospel, there’s language that’s irreversible. That’s where you start getting all of the information about the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which cannot be forgiven in this age or the age to come. Also, in the Gospels, a long period of time has been articulated, an interim age that we’re living in now. We’ve been living in it for the last 2000 years. Where God is not going to be dealing with Israel specifically. They’re not going to be His primary instrument on the earth. It’s going to be a rather a new man called the church. And that’s called the inner advent age. That age has already been announced and it was in full swing already. And to make Acts 3 a re-offer of the kingdom would be like everything Jesus said about the interim age, Oh I take it all back.
So what I’m saying is language has been given in the gospels that’s irreversible. It couldn’t be reversed. Israel is moving off into discipline, A.D. 70 and God is going to set aside Israel for a season and He’s going to work through a new man called the church that we are part of. That doesn’t mean God is through with Israel because they’re going to be given a second opportunity. You’ll see this very clearly in our passage yet future. But at this point, there is no hope for the kingdom coming to the earth through first century Israel. Number four, the word kingdom is used forty-five times in Luke’s gospel. Luke being the prequel of Acts. Acts is the sequel, but the word kingdom is used only eight times in the Book of Acts. Why a heavy use of the word kingdom in Luke’s Gospel? Because the offer was on the table, but now it’s been withdrawn. And so if the Book of Acts mentions the kingdom, it sort of in a faint, more generic sense of the kingdom’s coming to the earth one day. Number five, the expression offer of the kingdom is bound up in the phrase, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That’s what John the Baptist preached. That’s what Jesus preached. That’s what the twelve preached until Matthew 12:24. And what you’ll study in the Book of Acts is that expression is not found anywhere in the Book of Acts.
So Peter, in Acts 2, Peter in Acts 3 is not re offering the kingdom. He’s explaining what’s going to happen to Israel yet future. And he’s largely preaching the personal gospel of salvation. Number six, to make this, Acts 3, a re offer of the kingdom is to co-mingle kingdom truth with church age truth. By the time you get to the Book of Acts, you’re not dealing with Kingdom truth anymore. You’re well into what God is doing in the interim age through the church. Acts is church truth, not kingdom truth. Matthew’s gospel is kingdom truth until Matthew 12. And so if you don’t keep that straight, you’ll drag a bunch of information about the kingdom into the church age and you’ll start mixing two things that really don’t go together. Number seven- and I’m going through these fast because believe it or not, this is review. Does this seem like review to you guys? Can I just get an amen out there from somebody just to make me feel better? The timing of the kingdom has already been fixed by the Father’s authority. That’s what the disciples wanted to know before the Ascension. Hey, are you going to set up the kingdom now? And Jesus says it’s not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father has fixed by His own authority. So the kingdom is coming to the earth one day on God’s timetable.
It would be kind of strange if Peter was all of a sudden saying, Well, here’s another opportunity to receive it right now. Number eight, Peter was merely preaching the personal gospel in Acts 2. Number nine- And this is why I’m bringing this up, because it’s where we are in our verse by verse study. Acts 3:19-21 is laying out the condition by which the kingdom will ultimately come to the earth, and that one condition is Israel as a nation must repent or change their minds about Jesus. Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus, in other words, in the tribulation period. They’ve got to do this nationally as a group. And they’ve got to repent of what Israel did in the first century in Matthew 12:24. Until the nation changes its mind about Matthew 12:24 the kingdom can’t come to the earth. Number ten, the miracles in the Book of Acts do not authenticate the kingdom and how it’s being offered. They authenticate the new church age. So a lot of people say, Well, there’s miracles in early Matthew. Yes, there were. But those were to authenticate the kingdom offer. The miracles in the Book of Acts are not there to authenticate the kingdom offer. They’re there to authenticate the birth of this new man that we’re part of today called the church. Arnold Fruchtenbaum says, “Three observations can be made about Peter’s sermon.” Now, don’t panic. I’m only going to give you one observation.
“The first observation is that it was not a re-offer of the Messianic kingdom. The Jewish people had rejected the kingdom in Matthew 12, and from then on, they were under the judgment of the unpardonable sin, the judgment of A.D. 70. That judgment was irrevocable-” And all attorneys know what irrevocable means. Because you study contract law in law school. For a contract, you have to have an offer. And before the offer is withdrawn, there has to be an acceptance. And there has to be a bargain for exchange of some sort called consideration. And there has to be no defenses to a contract, like somebody made an offer when they weren’t in their right mind or something like that. Under the legal system, contract law, there are certain circumstances where you make an offer and it can’t be taken back. That’s called an irrevocable offer. Most offers are not irrevocable, they’re revocable. They can be withdrawn before the offeree accepts the offer. So when Arnold Fruchtenbaum says that judgment was irrevocable, what he’s saying is what Israel did there could not be reversed nationally. They had committed the unpardonable sin and there was no possibility for change. So if it was- if it was irrevocable, their doom in Matthew 12, how would Peter be able to re offer the kingdom again in the Book of Acts? That really doesn’t make any sense. Fruchtenbaum says, “The prerequisite for the Second Coming and the Kingdom is Israel’s national salvation.”
So what Peter is describing here is what Israel future must do to receive the kingdom. He’s not re offering to them the Messianic kingdom. Fruchtenbaum goes on and he says, “The Messiah left the earth because of Israel’s rejection and will not come back unless Israel accepts His Messiahship. That will happen someday, but Peter’s words were not a re-offer to this generation since they had already committed the unpardonable sin. Because the sin was unpardonable, they could not see the kingdom established in their day, and the judgment of A.D. 70 would come.” So what Peter is doing here, when he says “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come” is exactly what Jesus did at the end of Matthew 23. Jesus did the exact same thing. He said- verses 37 through 39- “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones? Those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children… the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, [but] you were unwilling.” So I came to you the first time. I wanted to establish my kingdom in and through you when I came the first time. But the problem wasn’t Me. The problem was you. You wouldn’t have Me. Because, after all, back in Matthew 12:24, your leadership attributed My miracles, which they couldn’t deny, to Satan himself.
And so the problem wasn’t Me. The problem was you. You were unwilling. So he says, “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! The house is the temple. And that’s interesting because he typically called the temple My house or My Father’s house. Now He says, it’s your house. Why is it your house? Because you kicked me out. It doesn’t belong to Me anymore. Belongs to you. And by the way, the Romans are about to come, and they’re about to take the whole thing apart, brick by brick, forty years down the road. “For I say to you…you will not see Me-” What’s the next word there? “Until,” which is a really important word. Because if the verse just stopped before the word until shows up, we would be teaching replacement theology- right? That God is through with Israel. All of Israel’s blessings have been transferred to the church. The new Israel. And this is what Augustine taught going all the way back to the fourth century. The church has permanently replaced Israel in the plan and program of God. It’s called Supersessionism, meaning the church has superseded Israel’s place. Most Christians by way of denominational affiliation, whether they realize it or not, are sitting in churches that teach this all the time. That’s why they think the church is the kingdom. That’s why very, very sadly, Christianity has a black eye for anti-Semitism, because we look at the Jews as the ones that rejected it.
We’ve taken their place. God is through with the Jew. That sort of fosters a kind of an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic statement. A lot of Christians by way of denominational affiliation look at the modern state of Israel as if it’s a total fluke. They don’t see any prophetic significance to it at all. It’s just an accident of history. Whereas we look at Israel as a miracle. It’s the miracle on the Mediterranean. Its stage setting for what God is going to do in the future. So you notice that Christians don’t agree on a lot of subjects because they look at different things through different lenses. Most Christians look at these things in the Middle East, the rebirth of Israel, anti-semitism as if verse 39 stopped before the word until. But notice Jesus says more beginning with the word until, which shuts the door on replacement theology. “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until-” meaning there’s a condition that they have to meet for the kingdom- which they rejected in Matthew 12- to come to the earth. “until you say, ‘Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!” You’ll notice that “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord is in quotations. That’s Psalm 118:26, which is a messianic psalm. And what He’s saying is, until you say that I’m not coming back to the earth to set up My kingdom in and through you until you say- Now who’s the you? Until you say- who’s the you? Anybody know? You go right from verse 39 where it says you second person, plural.
Go right back to verse 37. And what are the first two words in verse 37? Jerusalem, Jerusalem. He’s speaking to them as a nation. What he’s saying is the kingdom that you rejected in Matthew 12:24 is not going to come to the earth until you, future Israel, acknowledge Me as the Messiah. And when you do that, your mind will have changed because you’re changing it away from Matthew 12:24, the leadership back then that attributed my miracles to Beelzebub or Satan or the ruler of the ruler of the demons. These verses are followed by Matthew 24 and 25, The Olivet Discourse, which is a description of the circumstances that Israel has to go through before her acknowledgment of Jesus as the Messiah becomes a reality. So these verses here, end of Matthew 23, introduce what’s coming in Matthew 24 and 25. Where it’s very obvious that the repentance that we’re speaking of here nationally is not going to happen until Israel goes into, as prophesied, by the way, the time of Jacob’s trouble, the 70th week of Daniel. And it’s then and only then through those circumstances that they will repent, change their minds about Jesus. And then and only then will the kingdom come to the earth.
So when [Jesus] here is making this statement: “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” He’s not re offering the kingdom here. Excuse me. Did I say Peter? When Jesus says this- I may have misspoke earlier. When Jesus says “For I say to you, from now on, you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” He’s not re offering the kingdom. He’s explaining the futuristic condition that will be satisfied to bring the kingdom to the earth. And in context, that condition is not going to be satisfied until the tribulation period. If you can understand that, you can understand exactly what Peter is doing. Peter is doing the exact same thing in Acts 3:19. He’s not re-offering the kingdom for reasons we’ve already explained. He’s outlining the condition that must be met before the kingdom can come to the earth. So we do- Therefore, because that condition is going to be met one day, we don’t teach replacement theology here. We teach that the church is an intercalation or an interruption in God’s past program and future program with national Israel. We’re a unique man, spiritual man living in between Israel’s rejection and future acceptance of the tribulation period in the tribulation period.
So that’s what Peter is getting at. So we don’t teach replacement theology. We teach the Intercalation model. We are- Gosh, how do I put this? Lewis Sperry Chafer said that we are so foreign to the outworking of God’s purposes through Israel that we’re like an abnormal concept thrust right into the middle. I mean, we’re not Israel. We’re really different than Israel. We don’t have a calendar. We don’t offer up animal sacrifices. We don’t celebrate the feast days, although it’s not wrong to celebrate those, of course. It just isn’t mandatory. We don’t have priests. I mean, why don’t we have priests? Because each of us are already- what?- priests. I mean, what the church is, is so such an abnormality in God’s program for Israel, Lewis Sperry Chafer said we’re a disruption of it. We’re an intercalation. So we are in no sense a continuation of God’s program for Israel. And that’s what God has been using to reach the world for 2000 years. That’s what the Book of Acts is about, how God raised up this new man called the church. But one of these days, the age of the church will be over. The event that will terminate the earthly ministry of the church will be the translation of the church called the Rapture. And once that happens- because God clearly has unfinished business with Israel- they’ve got to come to Him, repent in other words, in the tribulation period. After the rapture of the church, God puts His hand right back on the nation of Israel and completes His unfinished work with Israel.
So this is the intercalation model of understanding these things. It’s totally different than the replacement supersessionist model, which says God is through with Israel. All of Israel’s blessings have been transferred to the church allegorically. Notice the only way to get this to work is to move away from a literal interpretation of prophecy. And by the way, very interestingly, they never transfer Israel’s curses to the church. Israel has a lot of curses too. Deuteronomy 28. That’s one of the reasons I’m glad we’re not Israel. We never get those. We just get the goodies. And to get that whole thing to work, you’ve got to deliteralize the prophecies. Make them spiritual and heavenly rather than earthly. So here’s something very important to understand. Please, please hear me on this. The whole world could get saved. Every last person on planet Earth could get saved. But if tiny Israel remains in unbelief, the kingdom cannot come to planet Earth. The kingdom cannot and will not come to planet Earth. Conversely, the opposite could be true. The whole Gentile world could reject Jesus. But if tiny Israel, as a nation comes to faith, fulfills this condition, thereby repenting or changing their minds about what happened in Matthew 12:24, then just like that, the Kingdom of God will come to the Earth.
And when you understand that, you understand the satanic hatred for the Jewish nation. Satan does not want the kingdom to come to the earth because once the kingdom comes to the earth, the Book of Revelation says he’s bound for a thousand years. He loses authority. And at the end of the thousand years, the Book of Revelation says he’s thrown into the Lake of fire forever. So as Olivier Melnick, my friend, says, Satan has read his retirement plan and doesn’t look too good. I mean, it’s like you’re dealing with somebody that’s defeated, that’s going down. So if you think in your corrupted mind- and we know that Satan has a corrupted intellect, Ezekiel 28 talks about that- his understanding has been darkened. If you think you can stop God’s program from happening, which he apparently thinks he can do, then the best way to do it is to take out Israel. I mean, just destroy the Jewish nation. If you destroy the Jewish nation, then there’s nobody left to fulfill this condition. And if this condition is never fulfilled, then Satan remains forever the prince and power of the air. That helps you understand the bizarre hatred for the nation of Israel. I mean, we’re living just a few decades- a number of decades, but short time distance, when you look at the big picture- over the Holocaust and Nazi Germany, when you go to Israel, there’s a museum.
You can go there called Yad Vashem, which is the Holocaust Memorial, which is one of the smartest things the nation of Israel ever did because it proves the Holocaust happened. We now have all these jokers running around saying the Holocaust never really happened or it really wasn’t that bad. And after all, there’s other holocausts in the world. No, the Holocaust is really different than any other genocide. Because what the Nazis did after the Jews, many of them fled the Holocaust. The Nazis went outside the borders of Germany to get the fleeing Jews, to bring them back into Germany to eradicate them. That has never- of course, there have been many genocides in history, but not like that. I mean, that’s like new stuff. And as you go through Yad Vashem, you just say to yourself, I mean, how? That’s what everybody asks when they go through there. And the Jewish tour guides there, who don’t have the New Testament knowledge that we’re going over here, don’t really have much of an explanation for it. You’re going through there and you’re saying, how in the world could this have happened? Before the movie Schindler’s List came out I actually went to Dachau in 1988, I think it was. It was a college basketball trip into East Germany. And we actually went and stood in the actual showers where the Jews- a place called Dachau, famous concentration camp there. They were rushed out of these boxcars, trains.
They’re told to run down the hill and there’s a hot shower waiting for you. And so here they all come, you know, breathing heavily. They go into the shower- and you’ve all seen Schindler’s List. Schindler’s List portrays this poisonous gas comes out, and it’s hard to not inhale it when you’re, you know, breathing heavily because you’ve been running. And they’re just killed just like that. And so here we are, 1988- I was uh 20- early 20 somethings. I think I was at 21 at the time, 22, something like that, standing in the very showers where the poisonous gas came out and massacred all these Jews. And you’re saying to yourself, how in the world could something like this have happened? Of course, back then I really didn’t know that much about the Bible. It was just I had real- no real explanation for it. That’s the kind of question you ask as you go through Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. And what I’m explaining here is the explanation for it. It is not human in origin. It is demonic to its core. The idea of the eradication of the Jews does not come from the human mind. It comes from the fallen angelic realm. And it’s part of Satan’s devices whereby he thinks that if I just blot out the Jews, all of them, and destroy the nation of Israel completely, then the kingdom will never come to the earth.
And I can continue on and on and on as the prince and power of the air. So there is actually a spiritual reason that you have, as a New Testament student, that the world doesn’t have as to the origin of this level of evil. It’s spiritual in nature. The unregenerate Jewish guides that take you through there, they have no concept of what I’m talking about because they’re shut off from the light of scripture. And in fact, when you start to talk like this, they get real nervous. Because we had an open microphone at one of these tours I was in. We just all came out of Yad Vashem and they were crazy enough to give me the microphone. And the question comes up: How could all of this have happened? And I start going into this explanation. And as God is my witness, you could look at our Jewish tour guide. He did not like what I was saying. He was very, very nervous about what I was saying. And he was almost like, you know, Give me the microphone back as fast as I could get it. Because they have no concept of the level of depravity and evil that has been vented against their own people. But little old me, I understand it because I’m a New Testament student and an Old Testament student for that matter. Satan is trying to prevent the “until.” It’s as simple as that.
And that becomes the explanation for anti-Semitism because the rest of the Christian world, they may not believe Bible prophecy, they may not understand Bible prophecy. They might not teach Bible prophecy. But let me tell you something. Satan knows it cold. This is the ultimate chess game here. He knows it cold and he thinks he can stop it. He’s trying to prevent the “until”. And that’s the explanation for anti-Semitism. So I got to pick up the pace. We just have done half a verse here. I have a few minutes left. Acts 3:19. All right. “Therefore-” the therefore follows Peter’s treatment of their rejection of the Messiah. In other words, here’s what you have to do nationally yet future for this kingdom to come. “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” He deals with the necessity of repentance. Now he’s dealing with the results of repentance. What is going to happen when Israel changes her mind about Matthew 12:24 yet future? Four things. Number one, salvation. “so that your sins may be wiped away.” That’s Romans 11:25- right? “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery- so that you will not be wise in your own estimation- that a partial [hardening]. Notice the “hardening” is partial. “…a partial hardening has happened to Israel-”
What’s the next word? “UNTIL.” Now, if you’re an underliner, you should have Romans 11:25, you should have that “until” underlined in your Bible and you should have the one in Matthew 23″39 underlined. Because the “untils” are the explanation as to why we don’t teach replacement theology. God has a future for Israel once her hardening is over. she won’t be hardened forever. “-that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of Gentiles has come in;” Now, that’s the work of God in the church age. There’s a full number within the church age that’s going to be reached with the gospel. Don’t ask me what the number is. Only God knows. But that’s why we give the Gospel every week at Sugar Land Bible Church, because we’re hoping, as we give it, maybe that full number will be reached. And the sooner the full number can be reached, the rapture can happen. So if you want the rapture to happen, start sharing the gospel with the lost. Because the rapture can’t happen until the full number has come in. And what does verse 26 say? “and so all Israel will be saved.” That’s national regeneration. “just as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.'” In other words, it’s a unique situation where the whole nation comes to Christ. Now, to my knowledge, nothing like that has ever happened in Christian history, where a whole nation from the least to the greatest are saved.
And yet that’s what the Bible says is going to happen and that’s what’s going to trigger- everybody’s worried today about trigger words. Don’t trigger me. Well, what triggers God? Have you ever asked yourself that? Does God ever get triggered? What triggers God is the whole nation receives Him as Messiah and He comes to the earth. This is not the rapture. This is something different. The Rapture had already happened at least seven years earlier. Comes to the earth to rescue His nation from the wrath of the beast, who at that point in time is possessed by Satan himself. Once the whole nation fulfills this condition, acknowledges His Messiahship, repents of what happened in Matthew 12:24- here comes Jesus at the end of the seven year Tribulation period to rescue His nation from a satanically energized Antichrist who’s trying to kill them all. And by the way, why is a satanically energized Antichrist trying to kill them all in the second half of the tribulation period? Because it’s part of this chess match where Satan thinks he can prevent the kingdom from coming to the earth. And Jesus says, Checkmate. You lose. And the kingdom of God starts at that point. And the first order of business Jesus pursues as He takes the devil and binds Him in a place called the Abyss for a thousand years. So once this repentance happens, you’ve got national, universal salvation.
I mean, in 2000 years of church history, I have never known of a whole city coming to Christ. I mean, could you imagine the whole city of Sugar Land comes to Christ? Wouldn’t that be something? I hope the Lord starts with the city council, by the way. But every person in the city of Sugar Land is saved. I mean, who has ever heard of such a thing? I mean, that would just be completely off the charts. And yet this is what is designed for Israel, where it’s not just a city, it’s the whole nation. Every single person in the nation is regenerated. Look at verse 19 very carefully. “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away.” Do you see that? How repentance as we’re describing it leads to the wiping out of sins. You repent, believe, in other words. Because repent and believe are synonymous. By the way, look back just for a minute at Acts 2:38. “Peter said to them, ‘Repent.'” Repent. Now look at verse 44 of Acts 2. “all those who had-” what is the next word say? “-believed…” Well, if it says repent in verse 38, why does it say believed in verse 44? Because repent and believed are synonyms- Right? So that’s an even more powerful proof than quoting Lewis Sperry Chafer. Let’s quote the apostle Peter. Peter himself used those two words synonymously.
So you’ll notice that the sins are wiped out after repentance. You follow that? Look at the order again, verse 19. “Therefore, repent and return-” What’s the end result? “so that your sins may be wiped away,” In other words, it’s the repentance, changing one’s mind or believing Jesus that cancels your sin debt. Repentance first, cancellation of sin debt second. Are you guys with me on that? Now, if that’s true, then why are all these so-called evangelists running around saying, in order to get right with God, you’ve got to repent of your sins and believe. That’s not what the Bible says. The Bible never says repent of your sins and believe. The Bible says believe so that your sins can be canceled. See the difference? I mean, when Anne and I first met, we were invited to go watch Ray Comfort out on the Santa Monica Pier. This was a good 25, 26 years ago. He was very entertaining. He’s obviously very talented. He would have an open microphone where he would invite all of these evolutionists and college professors and atheists to come and debate him, you know, live in front of anybody that wanted to watch. I mean, he was really good at it. But the truth of the matter is, as I’ve watched Ray Comfort over the years, He doesn’t preach the right gospel. Why is that? Because he reverses what’s in verse 19. He says, Repent of your sins and believe.
That’s like taking a bath before you take a shower. You don’t get saved by repenting of your sins and believing. In other words, if you think the gospel is clean yourself up and come to Jesus, that’s a false gospel- right? Because the gospel is believe so that your sins can be forgiven. And all of these so called evangelists are extremely sloppy with this language. And they’re out there teaching things that are incorrect. That’s a false gospel. The Bible says a person is not justified by the works of the law. I mean, if you go up to someone and say you’ve got to repent of your sins and then believe, you’re saying their justification is by the works of the law. False gospel. But somehow Ray Comfort and others- he gets away with it because he talks in an accent. Is he Australian or something like that? And it’s like, well, if someone articulates bad theology in a non-American accent, I guess that gives it more credibility. I mean, come on, what did Paul say? What did the Bereans do with Paul? They searched the scriptures daily to see if these things were so. They weren’t so enamored with Paul’s pedigree that they didn’t put him to the test. So why aren’t Christians putting people like Ray Comfort to the test? Say, Ray, you know, I really like a lot of the things you say. You might be really good on evolution and debating college professors and atheists, but your presentation of the gospel is wrong because it contradicts the clear order of Acts 3:19.
You’re teaching a gospel of works. How come we don’t say stuff like that? Well, I don’t know why, we’re very afraid of- well, we have a disease, actually. The late Walter Martin called the disease non-rock-a-boat-is. That’s what he called it, because he was out debating Christians on all kinds of things. And he would say, Christianity is infected with non-rock-a-boat-is. In other words, we don’t want to rock the boat. Well, I would say this, the Bible rocks the boat everywhere it goes. Would you not agree with me? So if you stick with the truth, there’s going to be some kind of division. That’s the nature of truth. So there’s there’s no shame in looking at someone that you can appreciate debating out on a pier in the late 90s- I think that was- refuting evolutionists and college professors. And you could like what they’re saying, but at the same time say, you know what? Your presentation of the gospel is a works oriented gospel because you’re teaching- you’re putting the cart before the horse, Ray. And I just use him because I know a little bit about him. You could use any number of people. Abraham believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness. It does not say Abraham repented of all of his sins, shed some tears, felt really sorry about his lifestyle, and believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.
He simply heard it and he believed it. And God canceled his sin debt. That’s how it works. If you’re saying you got to repent of your sins- by the way, how do you even know if you’ve repented of all of your sins? Can’t there be sins in your background that you forgot you committed? And how long does the repentance have to go for? What if it only lasts for a week or two and you go right back to the same sin? Does that mean you’re not a Christian? What did Jesus say on the cross? It is finished. I mean, that would include all of the sins I’ve committed in the past. All of the sins that I may commit in the future- they’re all taken care of at the cross. All I have to do is just believe in what He said. So there’s a clear order here. Well, my goodness, we only made it through three quarters or two thirds of a verse. So at this time, if you want to hear the rest of verse 19, you got to come back next week and maybe we’ll get to verse 20. Who knows? So if you need to pick up your young ones, now would be a good time to do that. If you are watching live this evening, please stand by for Q&A, which will begin shortly. Give me 20 seconds and we’ll get to it.