Peter and John had gone to the temple to pray. This was their daily practice but this day turned out to be very different. Walking towards the beautiful gate, once again they saw a beggar who was laid there daily. He was very fortunate that day because they had no money! All they had was faith in the name of Jesus! The man was not just healed he was transformed by having all of those atrophied muscles made strong. He took Peter's word and stood up and began walking and leaping and praising God! Today we come to the next part of the story. As the crowd gathered Peter took the opportunity to explain what had happened.
Let's read the story from the book of Acts…
Acts 3:11-26, While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
Peter, preacher of the gospel, took advantage of the gathering crowd to tell them the truth about Jesus. A man, over forty years old, had been healed and given a new life! He was given that gift as result of an act of faith — faith in the name of Jesus!
This act of faith glorified Jesus. Peter wanted it very clear that this healing came from God because of faith in Jesus Christ. However…
The people looked to Peter and John. They did not realize that never has man provided deliverance. Listen while I read, Zechariah 4:6, Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. God wanted his people to understand that it was not in the abilities of men to solve problems or meet needs. It is only by God's Spirit that our needs can be met. Listen also to what Hosea had to say,
Hosea 1:7, But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.” David, the Psalmist, said, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.”
None of the things that people normally look to can answer their real needs. It is by the Lord God that we are saved spiritually, materially or physically, our healing comes from God. Peter wanted it very clear that Jesus was to be glorified as a result of this healing.
We often tend to glorify the human agent. All glory goes to God! He told Isaiah, 700 years before Christ, that he would give his glory to no one else. God does not share the stage! He will be glorified and we should remember that.
Peter had an excellent opportunity to get glory for himself. There were eyewitnesses to the apparent fact that he had healed this man. The word spread like wildfire and a great crowd gathered. All Peter needed was a PR man, a tent and some signage! But he knew better. He knew the source of the healing and he would only give glory to God through Jesus Christ.…
Peter pointed them back to God. In our actions and in our talk we must keep God central. Listen while I read, Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Peter wanted them to know that it was only by faith in the name of Jesus that God had healed this man. Without faith it is impossible to please God! And not just a faith that believes God exists. God does exist. He does not exist because we want him to he exists in spite of the fact that humanity really doesn't want him to. From Adam onward mankind has always wanted to be the center of attention. Self-centeredness caused Adam to eat the forbidden fruit because he believed the lie that eating that fruit would make him like God. So Peter wanted the attention taken off himself and put in the right place. He pointed them back to God…
And to the Author of life. The Greek word translated "author" in the ESV is translated "Prince" in the KJV. The same word is used in Hebrews and translated "founder" (ESV) or, "captain" (KJV). Peter wanted to point to the fact that Jesus is the author, prince, founder or captain of life. Years later John, who was present that day, would write these words , John 1:3-5, All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. In Jesus, on this earth, was life — a life that was the light of men. A light that shined in darkness and overwhelmed the darkness. However, look at verse eleven, He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. Jesus came to his own possessions, or his own country by being born the son of Mary and living as a man. But, having come to his own, his own people did not receive him. Pilate had decided to release him but his people denied him. Jesus was the holy and righteous one who had come to save his people. Now his people denied him and used the Romans as a tool to nail him to the cross.
Peter spoke very strong words that day to indict the people of Israel for the crime of crucifying Jesus. Then, he softened the indictment by saying that he knew they had acted in ignorance. But we need to remember…
Ignorance is not bliss. Somehow people seem to think that they are not guilty of what they are ignorant of. I suspect that may be the reason some Christians don't study the Bible in detail because they believe they will only be responsible for what they know. A well-known legal standard is, "Ignorance of the law is no defense."
Ignorance is not bliss but ignorance is…
A lack of knowledge. From the cross Jesus prayed for those who were crucifying him. Luke tells us about it, Luke 23:34, And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
The Roman soldiers certainly did not know what they were doing. The Centurion in command of the execution realized at the end something of what was going on when he said, "Truly this was the son of God."
The crowds who stood before Pilate's judgment seat did not understand what they were doing. Many of them would never understand. Many of them were present on the day of Pentecost and three thousand of them understood and placed their faith in the living Lord Jesus Christ.
Ignorance is a lack of knowledge and…
A common condition. Listen to what Paul wrote to the Ephesians in, Ephesians 2:1-3, And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Paul writes to the Ephesians to remind them that before they came to faith in Christ they were dead in trespasses and sins. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. We are all born in trouble. When we take these verses together we can see that the common condition of all men is an ignorance of God. In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians we are taught that the God of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers. Yes, ignorance is a lack of knowledge and a common condition but…
Ignorance can be cured. The psalmist tells us how to cure our ignorance. Psalm one hundred nineteen honors the word of God in every verse but specifically listen to, Psalm 119:10-11, With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Clinging close to his commandments and storing the word in our hearts is a cure for ignorance. There's an old saying about the Bible it goes like this, "This book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book." We need to know the word of God and we need to store it in our hearts. God gave us a promise through Jeremiah…
Jeremiah 29:13,You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. This promise is for us as well as the people of Jeremiah's day. Just before this God had said, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." When we store his word in our hearts and seek him with all our heart he will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. The enemy, Satan, will do anything he can to keep us from coming to Christ for salvation or, if we are already saved, keep us from growing in grace and the knowledge of the Lord.
Throughout history people have acted in ignorance. They still do today because the God of this world has blinded their minds to keep them from believing. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge and a common condition but ignorance can be cured by knowledge.
Knowing something is true and acting on it are two different things. The majority of the people on earth believe that there is a God. At the same time, the majority of people on earth are unsaved. To know that God exists is only half the answer. One must also believe that he rewards those who seek him. That is, put faith in him, or, trust in him for salvation…
Knowledge is not enough, repentance is the way out. Faith and repentance go together as two sides of the same coin.
Even the demons have knowledge. But it does not change them. Listen while I read, James 2:19, You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Believing in God, or, as James put it, believing that God is one, is a good thing. I don't know how a person can look at the universe and all the intricate balance of nature around us and not believe in God. The evidences of intelligent design are all around us and should prove without a doubt the existence of the designer. The other night I was watching a program on either the Science Channel or Discovery. The whole plot of the program was all of the necessary elements that come together to sustain life on earth. Earth is the right distance from the sun. Earth has a large moon that affects the movement of tides. Even the planet Jupiter serves as a giant gravity magnet to pull asteroids and comets off their path to keep them from striking Earth. We need the right balance of elements in the air so that we can breathe and plants can survive. Hundreds of necessary ingredients go into the ability of life to survive on earth. Both Venus and Mars are in the zone where life could exist but are missing major elements that Earth has. You think there was not a Designer? Yet the very makers of the program would deny God's existence. The god of this world has blinded their minds.
Some knowledge is necessary. Paul wrote to the Romans, "how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?" (Romans 10:14) However, knowledge and approval is not enough by themselves. Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night, had a certain knowledge and certainly approved but he still had to put his personal faith in Jesus Christ in order to be born again.
Yes, the demons believe. Why should they not? They were there in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth. They were among the sons of God that sang together until Lucifer rebelled and they fell with him. Yes, the demons believe — and shudder!
The demons recognized Jesus when he walked on earth and feared him. Before Jesus cast a demon out of a possessed person it often proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God. He had to order them to be silent several times during his ministry. The demons have more knowledge about Jesus then we do and yet they do not, or cannot, repent. Knowledge is not enough and approval is not enough. In order to have salvation one must repent and turn back so that your sins may be blotted out.
Jesus and John the Baptist both proclaimed "repent".
"Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" was the common message of John the Baptist and Jesus. Repentance is not just being sorry for sin. Even grieving over our sin is not enough. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10) Unregenerate people feel sorrow when they have done wrong and if the wrong is especially harmful to other people they may also feel great grief. Godly grief produces saving faith. Saving faith is trust in Jesus Christ as a living person for forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God.
Head knowledge is not enough! Even the demons have knowledge. Repentance is required and…
True repentance involves saving faith. There is more to salvation than simply being sorry for sin and recognizing the existence of God. The book of Acts records the words of Paul when he was speaking to the Ephesian elders on his way to Jerusalem for the last time. He reminded them that he had been faithful among them. Listen while I read from that account. Acts 20:20-21, ...I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Repentance and faith are linked together. A problem with that statement is the modern understanding of the word "faith". Today, faith often refers to an irrational or illogical belief in something that cannot be proven. One can believe that the world is flat or that the moon is made of green cheese! Such belief, no matter how strongly it is held, does not make it true. When everything is falling apart around someone a friend may say "have faith" and mean something like, "be confident that something good is going to happen." Friends, that is not saving faith! In fact, that is superstition and ungodly. Anytime a person is in trouble we could encourage them to "have faith in God" but not simply a vague "have faith".
Peter, seeing the crowd gathering around, and being guided by the Holy Spirit, immediately took the opportunity to tell the truth about Jesus Christ! First, he told them that the God of their fathers had healed the man they saw before them. Then, he reminded them that God had sent the Author of Life, Jesus, and they had rejected him and condemned him to death. After that, he recognized their lack of knowledge and called them to repent by turning away from their sins and turning to the Lord Jesus Christ. His goal that day was that they ALL may be turned from their wickedness. Well, not all of them believed but the number of men who believed that day came to about five thousand! (Acts 4:4)
Are you ignorant of what God has done for you in Christ Jesus? Ignorance can be cured by knowledge. Have you come to know that Jesus died for the sins of the world? Are you willing to act on that knowledge by repenting and receiving God's grace by faith? I pray you will do so, if you have not already.
All scripture quotes are from:The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.