Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Forgiveness in the Name of Jesus

34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”(Acts 10:34-43 (ESV)
“Truly I understand that God shows not partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.“  This has to be spoken up front. It’s the point of the gospel that Peter is going to preach, that God accepts gentiles.  Now Peter is going to explain how he arrives at this conclusion concerning the gospel. It actually makes for a great sermon outline, gospel, law, gospel, if you will. Not as trendy as the law gospel law, but much more helpful in communicating the gospel. Peter doesn’t mean that one makes himself acceptable to God by works. But by fear of God he means faith in God, which always has an aspect of fear to it. And this faith isn’t of our doing but is a work of God in and of itself, it is something he works through the gospel. Works apart from faith are as dead as faith is that is separated from works.
So he recounts in short order the life of Christ. He knows that they have heard of him having had lived in this vicinity, he doesn’t go into great detail here. He recounts that Jesus was anointed by  the Holy Spirit and went around doing good. This is an important look into the motivation of Christ. Miracle means sign and we often are trained to think, “Look Jesus did a miracle! Here he is showing us his divinity! Look at his power!” All well and fine. Jesus does show us his divinity in miracles, but the divinity isn’t shown so much in the supernatural power he possesses but in the good will he shows to man by going around and doing good. Jesus wasn’t trying to show off his power so much as he was acting out of his divine goodness and mercy apart from any merit or worthiness in the people. That’s because we have not merit or worthiness in us by which we deserve anything but the hell of fire. He went around doing good and healing those oppressed by the devil because God was with him. And it is in the nature of God to love, and care for his creation. He shows us this in many ways every day that we suffer in this evil world as he showers us with our daily bread, giving us all that we need to support this life, and often times quite a bit more than that to boot.
Then Peter recounts our thanks for all the good God does in our lives. “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.” You have to be a little bit careful when you recount who they are, Jews and gentiles alike conspired for this to happen. Those who find Jesus to be a stumbling block, and those who find him to be folly. Whatever side of the coin you fall on there, this is your reaction to Christ. You kill him. We were all part of it one way or another, all having sinned and falling short of God. If you had opportunity to be there, you would have driven the nails, cracked the cat of nine’ tails, thrusted the spear. But God raised him up, and commanded the disciples to preach the gospel.

And that gospel is what all the scriptures testify of Jesus Christ, and here is meant the Old Testament, that all who believe in Jesus Christ receive the forgiveness of sins in his name. This means you, whether gentile or Jew. This means that whether you are inclined to think the whole gospel to be folly, and can’t make sense of it, or are scandalized by the forgiveness of sins. Still, despite your sinful inclinations, You have forgiveness through Jesus Christ. 

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