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The Case of Israeli Jews (Acts 2:32-47)
Sermon Notes
Sunday, 10 February 2013 00:00

The Bible often uses human experiences to picture or illustrate spiritual realities.
When I moved to Oregon in 1980 our church secretary had been married on May 23rd, which was also her birthday! It seems to me that it would be a very nice thing to be married on your birthday because, after all, what two events of normal human life and experience are more important than birth and marriage?

For you and me, our spiritual “birthday” occurs on the same day and at the same moment in time as our spiritual “wedding day.”

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring us into the family of God by new birth. When you and I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that takes place at the moment of faith in Him.
But so does something else. At the very same moment in time, the Holy Spirit joins us to Christ in His Body and that is a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ which is best compared to marriage (Romans 7:4) Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another – to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.

And wonderful as it is to be a member of the family of God ~ to be a child of God (and that is indeed wonderful!), it is even more wonderful to be so intimately related to the Lord Jesus Christ that there is a deep spiritual union between ourselves and Him created by the Holy Spirit ~ a union which is so intimate that the best human comparison is the experience of marriage. And out of that deep intimacy with Him, says Paul, “fruit should be borne to God.”

So, for you and for me, our spiritual birthday and our spiritual wedding day occurs at the very same moment in time.

Now even though our secretary had been married on her birthday, I am quite sure that she would never have confused the experience of being born with that of being married!
Nor should we confuse these things when we are thinking in the spiritual realm.
Although for us these things are true at the very same moment in our experience, it does not follow from this that they should always have occurred at the very same moment ~ and in fact they did not!

For example, two Sundays ago we considered the apostle Paul’s experience, when he met the Lord Jesus in His risen glory, on the road to Damascus.

We saw that there is reason to believe that Paul did not receive the gift of the Holy Spirit until three days later when he also received the forgiveness of sins (comparing Acts 9:8-9 to Acts 22:13-16).

In light of this fact that if the spiritual birthday of a man and his spiritual union to Christ can be separated by three days, then it is certainly conceivable that these two things might occur on the same day, but not at the same moment in time, and that is what we actually meet in Acts 2.

The powerful punch line – the conclusion – the climax of Peter’s penetrating sermon in Acts 2 comes in v. 36: 36“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

I believe it was at this point that the light went on for them! They got it! They were convinced by Peter’s message that the Man Jesus is the Christ. We know from John 20:30-31 and 1 John 5:1 that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. It was at this point that they gladly received the Word (2:41) which they had previously opposed in their spiritual darkness. They were now amongst those who had believed Peter’s message (Acts 2:44).

And so they ask in Acts 2:37, Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and (and having believed and realizing what a treacherous deed they had done to Jesus) said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

Then Peter said to them, 38“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I stated on Sunday that Acts 2:38 means exactly what it says: that those who were listening to Peter needed to repent and to be baptized in order to have their sins forgiven. Then they could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Question: “What does Acts 2:38 say about eternal life?”
Answer: Nothing! Acts 2:38 says nothing about eternal life!

Remember last Sunday’s message, in which we distinguished between what the Bible says about eternal life and the forgiveness of sins.

I realize that many of you are accustomed to making a very strong identification between eternal life and the forgiveness (remission) of sins. So strong, perhaps, that in reality you almost think of them as two sides of the same coin. Am I right? I used to think that way. That is the way we frequently think about these two things. But if you make that kind of an equation here, you wind up making this verse say that the hearers of Peter had to be baptized in order to be regenerated. In other words, you wind up with baptismal regeneration!

Our problem is that we have been making an equation between these two things in our thinking and that creates a difficulty that ought not to exist, because Acts 2:38 says absolutely nothing about the conditions for eternal life.

The Bible says clearly that whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God (1 John 5:1; John 20:31). There are no exceptions to this anywhere in the Bible!
Wherever the Bible lays down for us the condition by which we may receive eternal life – that condition is always and only faith in Christ.

If you will keep that clear in your thinking, and not allow an (erroneous) equation between eternal life and forgiveness of sins to confuse this issue, then I think it will be obvious that for the Jews there in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, the moment they accepted the fact that Jesus was indeed the Christ ~ as Peter has been pointing out in his sermon ~ at that moment they were born again into the family of God – that was their spiritual birthday.
But their wedding ~ their union with Him in the Church, did not occur immediately.
First, they had to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
Then, they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Only then, would they be baptized into the Body of Christ, the Christian Church.

Do you know that as a Pastor I have never married a fellow and a girl who were in the process of having a quarrel? Some guys and girls have been pretty nervous, for sure, but none have been in the process of a quarrel. If a couple is quarreling just before the marriage, usually the wedding gets postponed or called off all together.

God had a special quarrel with the Jewish people who were living in Jerusalem and had taken part in His Son’s crucifixion (Matthew 27:25). Yet He was willing to bring them into His family by simple faith in Christ ~ just as He has always been willing to do ~ but God was not willing to allow these people to come into fellowship with Him and to be united in this deep spiritual union with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, until the quarrel was settled.

What was this quarrel?
The people who lived in Jerusalem and in the land of Judea and who traveled there from time to time for the feast days had enjoyed a very special and unique opportunity and privilege.
Before the Lord Jesus had appeared on the earthly scene, God had sent to Israel, to the land of Israel, the greatest of all of Israel’s prophets – John the Baptizer (Matthew 11:11 ~ “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.”)
It was John’s special responsibility to prepare the way for the coming of Christ ~ and he did this through baptism. Luke 3:3 ~ And he (John Baptist) went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,
And people came out to John. They went down into the waters of baptism, confessing their sins.
John was trying to get them ready to receive the Lord Jesus Christ when He came.
So when Jesus was introduced to Israel, He was introduced through the medium of John’s baptism.
And then Jesus began to baptize ~ not Jesus personally, of course, but His disciples ~ for 3½ years the Jews of Israel had been confronted with the testimony of God being presented to them through two baptizers – first of all through John and then through the disciples who baptized in Jesus’ name.
And at the end of those 3½ years, the Jewish people rejected the Lord Jesus Christ and turned Him over to the Roman authorities to be crucified. In doing so, they were rejecting His ministry and testimony; they were rejecting the ministry and testimony of John the Baptist; they were rejecting the baptizing ministries that had been going on for those 3½ years.
And that was God’s special quarrel with Israel!

God is saying here to the Jews in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost, “Before I will allow you to come back into harmony with Myself, and enter My Church ~ go back to square one ~ and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.
Then God was willing to draw them not only into an ordinary fellowship with Himself through the forgiveness of their sins, but into an extraordinary fellowship with Himself through the baptism of the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, the Christian Church.
So for these Israeli Jews who had rejected Jesus’ ministry, their spiritual birthday and wedding day occurred on the same day, but not at the same moment.

 

 

 

 

 

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