Category Archives: Growth Group tips

Ezekiel 37:15-28 – One King and One Temple

Context

TIP: When you pick up a book and read it from where you last left off, say chapter 10, you want to recall all that’s happened previously otherwise chapter 10 won’t make any sense. You don’t begin reading a book at chapter 10! But you don’t need to recall everything – you only need to recall the things pertinent to chapter 10. So, recalling context for a bible passage doesn’t require spewing out every fact you know about the book so far, but to recall the bits that will shed light on the section you are looking at. That’s why we start with context and choose to talk about the bits we do.

Abraham had a son named Isaac who, in turn, had a son named Jacob. Jacob came to be known as Israel, therefore, Jacob and Israel are the same man. Jacob/Israel had twelve sons (and a daughter) who later made up the twelve tribes of Israel. So, the nation of Israel consisted of twelve regions. See Genesis 35:23-26 for a list of the twelve sons including who their mothers were. It might help if you draw up a family tree.

While David served to rule as king over all of Israel, David’s grandson, Rehoboam, created a division in the kingdom which resulted, under God’s sovereignty, in two kingdoms: the Southern Kingdom and the Northern Kingdom.

The Southern Kingdom contained two tribes: Judah and Benjamin.

The Northern Kingdom contained the other ten tribes including Joseph whose son was Ephraim. (Small confusion: the twelve sons included Levi and Joseph but the land division excluded Levi, since his was the priestly line and was given no land – Joseph had no land named after him but his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, were given land each. So there are 12 sons and 12 land divisions but Levi and Joseph are substituted with Manasseh and Ephraim.)

The Southern Kingdom was known as Judah and followed the kingly line of David while the Northern Kingdom was known as Israel and followed the kingly line of Jeroboam, an Ephraimite (1 Kings 11:26).

The Northern Kingdom (Israel) was destroyed and scattered in 722BC. The Southern Kingdom (Judah) went into exile in 586BC and this is who Ezekiel is speaking to.

Ezekiel 25 and 33 marked the day that the Southern Kingdom with the Temple was destroyed by Babylon.

I see that this is a lot of info to digest but it makes the reading of Ezekiel 37:15-28 much easier to understand. Judah and Joseph became heads over two divided kingdoms. But they were both brothers under Israel.

Observation

  • Verses 15-17 – A visual prophecy
  • Verses 18-23 – The visual prophecy explained
  • Verses 24-28 – One King and One Temple!

Verses 15-17

“Take a stick of wood…” Earlier in Ezekiel, the prophet was instructed to perform various tasks which would be a sign to the people he prophesied to. They were all for the warnings against Israel and their idolatry. Now, the prophet is asked to make a sign which is for the blessing of Israel. As an exercise to get people in your group talking, you might ask for a list of things Ezekiel has previously been asked to do.

“Belonging to Judah/Belonging to Joseph…” See the context for the explanation of how this refers to the Southern Kingdom and the Northern Kingdom respectively.

“to Ephraim…” again, see the context above.

“…and all the Israelites associated with him…” In both cases, both sticks ultimately represent two halves of the one kingdom: Israel! Whether Northern or Southern, all have family ties back to Israel (Jacob).

“Join them together…” The conclusion of Ezekiel’s demonstration is for the two sticks to become one stick. The visual prophecy is pretty straight forward: there will no longer be two kingdoms but one. The rest of the passage will amplify this simple message by expanding on the implications.

Verses 18-23

The first few verses here, 18-20, are straight forward. Given the context above, I see nothing to add to these verses.

“I will…” Firstly notice who will make this happen: The Sovereign LORD. Simple point worth making.

“…take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone.” Both sticks are a representative of Israel as a whole. Both the North and the South have been taken one way or another – by being scattered abroad, by taken captive in exile in Babylon, by a very small remnant fleeing from attack. But God will see them as two kingdoms no more!

“…back into their own land…” This brings back the covenant made by God to Abraham which included both a great nation and a promised land. God is not changing his mind but remembering his covenant.

“…one nation…one king…never divided…” Verse 22 is the key verse I suppose. Taking up the heart of what will happen as well as the key to the unity – they will be under one king. Verses 24-28 will take up this further.

“…I will save them from all their sinful backsliding and I will cleanse them. They will be my people and I will be their God.” This is a wonderful promise but raises the question of how God will do it. These are exactly what went wrong with Israel to begin with. They backslid and became mixed with the other nations and defiled by their practices. They let go of the covenant relationship and committed adultery with other so-called gods. How will God prevent this from happening again?

Verses 24-28

“My servant David will be king over them…” Without declaring that Judah was right, God sets straight that the kingdom that he had established was David’s. So, the heir to the throne is in the line of David and not Jeroboam. But more importantly, we are told that David will be the king. Now, since he has been dead for hundreds of years, what could this mean? It is to do with the promise to Judah (Genesis 49) and to David (2 Samuel 7) that there will be a forever king on the throne. When he comes, the throne will never be taken away from him. It is impossible for the kingdom to divide once the true Davidic king comes. His name is Jesus (Philippians 2).

“…they will live in the land of Jacob…” Remember that it is no longer two kingdoms called North and South but one kingdom now – the whole land of Israel.

“I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant.” God promises peace that is eternal. Jesus will be the king and peace will be the flavour of the kingdom.

“…and I will put my sanctuary among them forever…” Now, if this promise were literal, then we would find King David being the king – risen from the dead and seated on his throne. We would also see the Temple or sanctuary of God rebuilt and forever remaining. Neither of these things have come to pass in a literal sense. But the purpose of the sanctuary was to illustrate that God is dwelling with his people. Therefore he says, “My dwelling place will be with them…” Ezekiel 10 described the withdrawal of God from the Temple to show his disgust with the people of the promise. Now he promises eternal peace, with an eternal king ruling the one kingdom forever. And in this kingdom, God himself will dwell with the people. And there will be no end to this promise.

Meaning

God promises to reverse the many years of idolatry and rebellion by recovering his people into one nation with one king and the return of the sanctuary with God dwelling there forever. God will gather his people from everywhere to be the holy people of Israel.

New Testament Perspective

Now, in 2015, Jews are scattered all over the world, Israel is a war zone, no king is seated on any throne in Israel, the Temple is torn down and peace is quite unlikely in any age. But there is one man who is descended from David (Matthew 1) who is called Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), God With Us (Matthew 1:22), and who John spoke of as “the Word become flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

When Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God he said that it is here (Mark 1:15) and called people to repent. He spoke with a Samaritan woman from the northern region of Israel and said, “Woman, believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” In saying this, Jesus declared that no mountain or building will be the sanctuary of God but that every true believer will know the presence of God. The fulfilment of Ezekiel 37:15-28 is not to be found north, south, east or west of here but with the Spirit of God dwelling in us. This was the promise of Ezekiel 37:14. This is how God will cease the backsliding and rebellion. It will not be the kingdom of God based on human descent but by the Spirit. See Paul’s words on this in Romans 9! “…it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.”

The promise goes beyond the nation of Israel and into the whole earth. Anyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved. The people of God will be one people with one King and one eternal destiny which is called ‘peace’.

Application

  1. Ezekiel 37:15-28 is a key passage used by the Mormon church (Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints) to show that the book of Mormon is also part of God’s word. They say that one of the sticks represents the scriptures of Judah and the other stick represents the scripture of Ephraim and those Israelites who ventured to America. By telling Ezekiel to perform this prophecy, he is letting us all know that these two scriptures are part of the one word of God. Do you think they have a good argument? Which makes more sense: that the sticks represent two books or two kingdoms? One lesson from this passage is that the true people of God will come together because of the one king, one shepherd, one promise. The Mormon church does not represent this kingdom. Their church claims to be part of the Christian faith but their teaching discredits them. One commentator on Ezekiel, Iain Duguid writes, “We are not to welcome all professing Christians indiscriminately, as if what you believe was a matter of small importance. Instead, the New Testament teaches us that we are to refuse to have anything to do with those who teach false doctrine (2 John 10-11).”
  2. Jesus and the believer as the Temple. John 1:14 tells us that God became flesh and dwelled among us. It says that God “tabernacled” among us. Jesus compared himself to the Temple when he told the Jews to tear down the Temple and he would rebuild it in three days. We know that he was referring to himself (John 2:19). Jesus was transitioning our thinking away from bricks and mortar and to himself as the very place where God dwells since he himself is God. Believers are said to be the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) because the Spirit has made us alive in Christ. As we read through the book of John later this year, we will hear Jesus promise the coming of the Holy Spirit to dwell within the believer. This all points to the incredible closeness between God and his saved people. Our backsliding and rebellion can indeed be stopped because God is working in us to be his new creation (Ephesians 2:8-10). We don’t need to worry about what is going on in any particular place in the world as if God will recreate something special there because God is recreating something tremendous right here in our hearts.
  3. Jesus as our King. This is where our unity is found and where division flees away. When the true body of Christ looks to the head, then we can be united and get busy building one another up in Christ! We don’t find unity in common language or social backgrounds. Not in personal likes or hopes to make a better world. No, our unity comes when we call on the name of Jesus as King. Is Jesus your King? Do you salute him, listen to him, talk wisely about him, share the good news about him, rejoice with others who also call him their LORD. Every small obstacle is laid flat when we stand together to call Jesus the King. Our opinion on matters is not what is king – Jesus is King. Our connections with people is not what defines us as a people – King Jesus calls you to live in peace with him. The activities we do at church do not make us the people of God – Jesus is our King who saved us to gather as the people of God and worship him in Spirit and in truth. Knowing how to serve Jesus and how to know him in truth is the only way to inherit eternal life.

Prayer for the week

Father of all creation, we give you thanks and praise for your promises to all mankind – that in Jesus Christ your Son, we can know and find peace. Please teach us to live in peace and unity with each other in the church because we call on the name of Jesus to be saved.  Thank you that Jesus is our peace, our saviour, our shepherd and the very presence of God. Teach us to love and obey you, through your word, by your Spirit and through your Son. Amen.

Acts 2:42-47 – The growing church

We have fewer verses to cover today but I’m sure that there’ll be plenty of discussion coming from them in your groups. What are we to take from this section as a description of what happened and which parts are we to adopt as a prescription for us?

Context

Jesus was exalted to the right side of God and sent the Holy Spirit to be poured out on all who believed (2:33). Peter convinced about 3000 people to repent and turn to Christ to be saved. They were all baptized into the name of Jesus and so the age of Christianity began. Jesus had chosen 12 men (including Matthias) to be apostles – his witnesses to take the good news into all the world.

Observation

The whole section (42-47 and even including verse 41!) seems to give a snapshot of the church following the sermon by Peter. It reads like a Segway to the next scene in the book of Acts or of the Luke-Acts narrative. In particular, the phrase: ‘the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ There are no speeches in this section or details of events but a broad brush stroke of what was happening at this stage of the account – a little like a montage in a movie. There are several ‘transition’ texts like this in the book of Acts: 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20; 28:30-31. Not only do they provide a Segway but also move the story further along the Acts 1:8 progression.

Verse 42 – the heading for this montage!

‘They devoted themselves…’ This devotion captures the idea that the hearers of Peter’s message, the ones who were then baptized into the name of Jesus, they were not just idle Christians now. They threw themselves into this new teaching. They were ‘devoted to’/’persisted obstinately in’ four things: 1) the apostle’s teaching, 2) the fellowship of believers, 3) the breaking of bread and 4) to prayer.

1) Apostles’ teaching: it was Jesus himself who appointed the apostles. Matthias was appointed through godly discussion and prayer with God having the final say on who will be part of the 12. The apostles main project was to bear witness to the risen Jesus (1:8) but this was done through the teaching of scripture as we’ve seen Peter do. Jesus himself had time to take the apostles through the scriptures to show how they speak about him (Luke 24:27; 44-45).

Notice that the new believers were listening to all of the apostles’ teaching and not just to Peter. We too, today, are to devote ourselves to the apostles teaching. This is what we do when we open our bibles to read from both the old and new testaments. We read the New Testament to listen to the apostles teaching directly (perhaps not their own hands but their very teaching). And we open our Old Testaments with the lens of the New teaching us.

Verse 44 describes how God continued to accredit the apostles as working in his power. Just as Jesus had been approved by God through signs and wonders (2:22) the apostles were being given a similar support from on high. These powers and wonders were strong with the apostles and there is no encouragement in the later New Testament pages that Christians are to look for these powers past on to future leaders of the church.

2) The fellowship: this reflects the common unity the believers had. They were not in conflict with one another – something that Paul would need to remind the church to embrace and work hard at doing later on.

Notice that they embraced the idea of being together. They were devoted to it. And Hebrews 10:24-25 gives us the charge to not stop doing this.

Verses 44-45 describes the type of fellowship enjoyed: They were together and shared everything in common. The ‘fellowship’ was so strong – the community was so real – that possessions and material things were placed secondary. Is this prescriptive or descriptive? Should we take this as a lesson for how we enjoy fellowship together? Mi casa es su casa? Well, wouldn’t it be great! I think the answer is yes and no – the reality is that it’s too complicated. But what a beautiful picture of true fellowship! Stuff does not matter! What matters is being together in the name of Jesus! Sounds like heaven.

It seems that they didn’t really just throw everything into one corporate pool and live collectively but that they had the heart to look out for one another. Those in need were helped. It’s still amazing to read how things were sold in order to give to those in need. Note that the ‘anyone who had need’ were those enjoying this fellowship and who were in need – not just a broad giving to the needy. We may touch on this more in chapter 3.

Verse 46 tells us that they met daily in the Temple courts. This tells me a couple of things. Firstly, that they didn’t just meet in private but openly. They wanted their fellowship to be known and ideally, to grow as it describes in verse 47. Secondly, they met in the Jewish Temple courts. They were not seeing themselves as a religion. They aligned their worship with the Jewish teaching. Thirdly, the Temple was still standing at this time and while it was there, the apostles saw no reason to remove themselves from it – once the Temple was destroyed at 70AD, the Christians had no trouble continuing to spread the word since the presence of God was now with them and not in the Temple.

3) The breaking of bread: our minds might go straight to the Lord’s Supper (Communion) at this point but the passage has in mind the simple idea that they ate together! See Acts 2:46! Putting food on the table is always an ingredient for fellowship. Some growth groups enjoy this every week as part of their routine – not just a supper but a meal! It’s not the same thing as sharing communion together.

Verse 46 describes the breaking of bread as a cheerful and enjoyable time of fellowship. Homes were opened to meet together and eat and praise God. I worry about the place that communion can be elevated to and structured which misses the real joy of meeting together in the name of Christ. One application to correct this is for us all to devote ourselves to inviting people to our places for lunch on Sundays! And when we meet, how good would it be that we praise God for our fellowship and common faith in the risen Lord.

4) Devoting themselves to prayer: Verse 47 says that they praised God in their prayers. It is a great habit to thank God in our prayers but it is also excellent to simply praise him! The difference between thanking him and praising him lies with one being for specific things that God has done and the other being who he is! It’s a good practice to lead into our prayers, especially in Growth Groups, with praises to God for who he is before we throw our anxieties at him.

The other aspect to prayer in the bible is that we shape our prayers around the promises of God. Of course, we can ask God for whatever we dream of, but do we call on God to fulfill the things that he has already promised. Things like returning soon! Like working in us to create new hearts and minds that love like God loves (Eph 2:8-10). Like praying for God’s kingdom to come and for our daily bread.

Prayer has come up quite a few times already in the book of Acts (1:14; 1:24 and presumably in 2:1). Prayer demonstrates a dependence on God where only God can help. To put off prayer is to be devoted to our own courage, strength and power and to deny the need for God to be with us and to be our God.

Verse 47 – the church grew

With all the positive activity of the early believers – apostle’s teaching, fellowship, breaking bread and prayer – it is the Lord who added to their number. It’s not the actions of the church that drives it but the Lord who adds to the number.

‘The Lord’ is the one who has been exalted to the right hand of God! His name is Jesus! The Lord Jesus Christ is actively growing his church.

‘those who were being saved’ – there is a sense of progression here. Not so much that salvation is a progression (although this could be playing into the idea of perseverance and purification that Hebrews and other books address) but that the number of people saved kept growing. They were not saved until they were confronted with the apostle’s teaching and called on the name of the Lord.

Meaning

The gospel exploded into the first church – people with one mind, one heart and one Lord. The message of the gospel was expanding through both the teaching of the disciples and the actions or response to the gospel of the first believers.

The Christian church has begun.

Application

  • The early church were fanatics. This is not a negative term or an insult! They responded to the message of salvation through Jesus Christ like it was their lifeboat – no other thing would do. How deep do people need to go before they recognise your devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ and his teaching?
  • The pouring out of the Holy Spirit did not create a church filled with ‘spiritual gifts’ as some might know them, but a church growing through the apostle’s teaching – affirmed by the power of God among them. It’s the apostle’s teaching that people were devoted to, not their powers and wonder.
  • Nothing seemed to matter any more to the believers except to understand God’s word and meet together in cheerfulness and sincerity. This is what a revival looks like. If you want to be part of a revival, then devote yourself to what the early church devoted themselves to. And don’t let material things get in the way.
  • Hospitality. What would it look like to be meeting together in homes and enjoying food and good Christian company? What should it look like at church to be cultivating this further. It’s not more rosters and scheduled programs that we need but a heart to share time and conversation together.
  • The early church prayed. How can you cultivate the prayer time in your group better? Ask your group directly how you can improve in this area. Here’s a few ideas to help:
  1. get everyone to write down a prayer that they would like prayed and then hand the paper to someone else in the group (to their left?) and then everyone pray the prayers on their paper;
  2. break into pairs and pray;
  3. as leader, write out a prayer or print out the prayer of the week below and get everyone in the group to pray that together;
  4. ask someone in your group to take ‘ownership’ of the prayer time and see what they do with it!
  5. explain to your group that you are going to pray through a set format like the A.C.T.S. prayer and then during prayer time, direct the group through that format – ie, everyone pray only for ADORATION – praising God for who he is; then CONFESSION where we admit that we are not living like today’s passage suggests; then THANKSGIVING where we thank God for things we can name and finally SUPPLICATION when we ask God for help with various things.

Prayer of the week

Our Lord and our God, we praise you for growing your church through calling people to be saved. You have shown us what a great heart you have for the lost and we confess that we often think more about our own survival and lifestyle than we do for your glory. Thank you for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. We ask that you would help us to practice the closeness of the gospel that your early church experienced. Amen.

Acts 2:14-41 – this ‘Jesus’

One discipline to keep in mind when preparing studies is to read more than one translation of the text. As you read and re-read the passage, and meditate on the meaning yourself, read it in the ESV and see if you notice anything different.

Context

The book of Acts picks up the account of all that God is doing in the world through Jesus after his resurrection and ascension. Jesus instructed the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until he sends them the promised Holy Spirit to empower the gospel mission into all the world (acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost when God-fearers from all over the known world were represented. Everyone present heard the 120 believers declaring the glory of God in languages that could be understood. This loud event left all onlookers either scoffing the disciples as drunk or asking “what does this mean?”

The present passage immediately follows that question.

Observations

The structure of this section might be broken up like this (I say “might” because it is part of the readers decision regarding structure. The original Greek text didn’t have spaces between words let alone paragraph markers. I look out for clues in the writing for the breaks – time changes, location changes, new idea type words like ‘for’, ‘now’, ‘therefore’. This passage could be divided based on the logic of what Peter is saying but I will be using his recurring phrase: ‘fellow Israelites, listen…’ to help the structure…)

  • 14-21 Peter addresses the crowd to preach Joel 2 – this is the last days.
  • 22-28 Peter continues to preach Psalm 16 – this Jesus was accredited by God.
  • 29-36 Peter continues to preach Psalm 110 – This Jesus is both Lord and Messiah.
  • 37-41 Peter calls the people to repent and be saved.
Verses 14-21

Then Peter stood up with the eleven not only is Peter taking the initiative to preach the gospel to the crowd, but the eleven are distinguished from the other 120. These were, one way or another (see acts 1 on Matthias), chosen by God for this mission. Peter shows more courage now than he did at the time of the crucifixion when he denied Jesus thrice (I hope you like that word). Keep in mind that the disciples are growing and learning in their faith as we read the accounts in Acts.

Raised his voice and addressed the crowd I suppose many will wonder what language Peter used to speak to the crowd of so many different languages. Was this speech a miracle of languages too? It’s likely that he spoke Aramaic to his fellow Jews or perhaps Greek. It’s possible for many people to share a common market language while each having their own language of origin. Peter raises his voice to address everyone and call people to attention. From this day onward, Peter and the eleven will be recognised as the leaders of the Christian church.

…not drunk…it’s only 9 o’clock! A straight forward response to the accusation from verse 13. The people shouldn’t dream up some absurd conclusion but should ask the question: what does this mean (v12).

By the prophet Joel Joel 2:28-32 is used by Peter as the passage for his sermon. It’s possible that the word ‘Joel’ was not included in the original by Luke and added later by copiers who knew clearly where this prophesy came from. The addition (if it is an addition), although true, hides the actual author who Luke does name in the text! As he quotes from Joel, he attributes the message to God: “in the last days, God says…” The point is that these are the words of God, the promise from God, not a prophet.

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. The passage quoted is from Joel 2 and marks this event as the last days. These last days, which we still live in today, began at the resurrection and Pentecost and will continue until CHRIST returns.

The sign of the last days is the pouring out of God’s Spirit. Isaiah 44:3 and Ezekiel 39:29 also promise the pouring out of God’s Spirit when God acts to restore his people. And note my favourite OT reference on the Spirit in Numbers 11:24-30. Why don’t we have more people named Eldad and Medad?! Listen to how Moses rebuked Joshua for wanting to stop people working through God’s Spirit: “I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (Num 11:29). This prayer of Moses is answered at Pentecost and to all who believe in Jesus as CHRIST and Lord (John 7:37-39).

Verses 17-18 uses poetry to repeat the one message: the Spirit is for all people – sons, daughts, men, women, you and your children and so on.

Verses 19-20 could describe some events of Jesus’ earthly ministry but it seems clearer to read it as describing the second coming (Luke 21:11; Matthew 24:29). When the Old Testament refers to the last days it often calls it the day of the Lord and seems to describe it as one great and terrible day. Here we get a clearer understanding that the last days represent an age which encompasses the great day of salvation through the cross and resurrection and culminate in the second coming which will bring on judgement day. So, not one day of the Lord but two.

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved Everyone who does not call on the name of the Lord will not be saved. We need saving and God has made it clear who our saviour is – we need to respond to God or else face judgement.

Verses 22-28

Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God…as you yourselves know this person named and identified as from the Jewish town of Nazareth was, in the listeners own history, given undeniable support from God. Jesus was well known in and around Jerusalem and people came from all over to be healed by him. God supplied enough evidence in his life to show that he was approved by God.

But you put him to death by nailing him to a cross the crowd are given joint responsibility for their behaviour against Jesus. They were ‘wicked’ in their actions. Jesus blood is on their hands. This was not a blow to God, however, since even in men’s wickedness, God was seeing his plans fulfilled.

This is where the discussion of free will and God’s sovereignty pops up. We will conclude that God didn’t need men to behave wickedly in order to accomplish his purposes – people did what they did by their own choice. But we will also conclude that God is not taken by surprise by the actions of people and he will work all things for the good of those who love him. Exploring what it means for God to have foreknowledge is a complex thing. Many will be satisfied by saying that God knew beforehand what would happen and that is enough for them. Others will see that the issue is more complex than that and will need to look into a good book on the topic.

God raised him from the dead, we sometimes sing in church that ‘death could not hold him down’. Verse 24 expresses this sentiment and portrays God as the one who raised Jesus. It was not simply that Jesus’ slipped through death’s fingers, but that he was raised up. God accredited this Jesus, God raised this Jesus up and later we’ll read that God seated this Jesus on the throne in heaven.

Verses 29-36

David died and was buried Psalm 16 was written by David and you could imagine that people could nurture the idea that The Psalm was about David. But he is dead and was buried.
The Psalm is not about him but about one of his descendants as promised on oath in 2 Samuel 7 that a descendant would be on the throne forever.

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it the we must refer to the 12 apostles. The locals in Jerusalem can testify that Jesus performed many signs and wonders but the apostles can inform them that they have seen Jesus alive again.

Psalm 110 is quoted by Peter to support his statement that the Messiah, Jesus, has been exalted to the right hand of God.

36 Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah this is the punch line to Peter’s sermon. Let me assure you, say Peter, that God himself has presented Jesus to you as our Lord and promised Messiah – and you crucified him. Lookup the ESV for a better translation to the NIV here. Note that crucifixion is not simply the act of killing somebody but is almost the definition of humiliation and shame.

Verses 37-39

Peter immediately supplies the remedy for the people’s heartfelt grief over what they have done – repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus. There is no time to waste. Everyone listening is called to turn to CHRIST. On believing what Peter has preached and repenting, they will receive the Holy Spirit – the outpouring will continue and has continued to this very day.

Verses 40-41 Peter said many more things than what Luke recorded. Can you imagine 3000 people being baptised in a day?!

Save yourselves from this corrupt generation again, the NIV misses the mark here. The idea is something like, “don’t just stand there, accept the invitation today!” True evangelist style. The gospel was described compellingly. The people were cut to the heart and the preacher didn’t give them time to go away and think about it. Peter did the alter call.

3000 souls were saved that day. It was a remarkable day indeed. God is still saving souls today. Be encouraged that the Holy Spirit has not stopped working. The gospel has been spread and continues to do so. People all over the world are hearing the call to repent. People in Campbelltown are also. Pray that we will expect to see more people come into the kingdom when we preach and teach and exhort souls to believe that Jesus is Lord. The apostles saw a revival in Jerusalem in the name of Jesus.

Meaning

Don’t you understand that this Jesus of Nazareth is both King in heaven and the promised rescuer of the world!? Turn to him now and do not put it off. We are living now in the last days! The proof is out there.

Application

  • Have you turned to CHRIST yet?
  • If not, what are you waiting for?
  • Praise God that his promises always come true – the Messiah came and the Spirit has come – and he will return again.
  • CHRISTIANITY was not invented by the disciples. They simply saw the signs and interpreted the scriptures as God had said.
  • Our gospel conversations need to centre around who Jesus is…beware of describing your faith apart from Jesus.
  • Jesus is not simply our ticket to the resurrection – his relationship to this world is King. The king will rule and defeat his enemies, so, call on the name of Jesus and get on the right side. Is he your master?
  • The crowd of people were cut to the heart to hear what they had done to the Messiah – pray that we would awaken our hearts to love the Lord and care about how he is regarded in this world.
  • Expect people to respond to the gospel in this way. Many will reject faith in Christ, but let’s repent from expecting everyone to respond in this way.

Prayer for the week

Father God, we give you thanks and praise that while our hearts were far from you, you came near to us. We acknowledge that Jesus is Lord and Saviour and deserves first place in our hearts. Thank you for pouring out your Holy Spirit on all who believe. Help us, we pray, to declare the name of Jesus wherever we are. Please revive our own hearts as well as the hearts of those around us. We pray this in the name of Jesus our Lord. Amen.