Category Archives: Topical

Acts 3 – The Author of Life

We’re back to looking at a larger chunk of text and so Growth Group leaders will need to decide how to divide the text and what to focus on. In this week’s passage, it is possible to discuss the whole passage from an eagle-view and then zoom in on a few sentences to discuss.


The book of Acts is dealing with the early days of the Christian church. Jesus is risen and ascended to the right side of God the Father. From there he has poured out the Holy Spirit on all who believe. A great crowd of Jewish God-fearers hear Peter’s conviction that Jesus is both Lord and Messiah whom they had crucified. About 3000 of them repented and were baptised. During this time of revival, the church enjoyed the excitement of Learning together, meeting together, eating together and praying together. The days of the early church sound amazing! The apostles were excited to teach about Christ and their teaching was accompanied with many wonders and signs (2:43).


  •  Notice how similar chapter 3 is to chapter 2!
  1. 3:1-10…A miracle occurs through the apostles resulting in praises to God (2:1-12)
  2. 3:11-14…Peter steps up and declares that this is because of Jesus (2:14-23)
  3. 3:15-16…Peter convicts his fellow Jews of their wicked treatment of the Messiah (2:24-32)
  4. 3:17-26…Peter calls the hearers to repent for the forgiveness of sins (2:33-40)
  • While chapter 2 ends with 3000 converts, this episode leads to the first sign of persecution in the church (Ch4). Instead of converts, they get critics!
  • What the lame man expected from anyone was, at best, some money, and has experience of getting little or nothing as people walk by. Getting money from pious Jews was why he was brought to the temple and this is what he asked for. Even when he asks Peter and John, it seems like he hasn’t made any eye contact with them – he sees them and asks them for alms, but does not know for sure that he’ll get anything from them.
  • “In the name of Jesus Christ” – this phrase could be read as a magical word to provoke a miracle but this doesn’t fit at all with the gospel, of Jesus ministry or of the teaching of the apostles. It’s better to be read as a command for the man to get up and walk in Jesus name. That is, he’s being asked to trust Jesus and the power of Jesus. Verse 16 supports this. So, the man responded immediately to the call to trust Jesus.
  • Notice the physical aspect of this story. The man was carried to, probably, a routine location to receive alms from folk who were not even going to look him in the eye – any gifts from the crowd would be passed on with minimal to no personal contact. But Peter and John asked the man to look at them. Peter looked at them and said, “look at us!” After talking with the man (more than what he’d be use to) they took him by the hand (v7) and helped him up. What follows (7-8) is quite a visual description of the man’s activity – strength returned, jumping and walking and shouting praises to God (yes, go ahead and sing that song). Lastly, we read that the man held on to Peter and John (v11). The physical elements of the story take us from lame and distant, mechanical and dreary – to leaping and touching and talking and praising. It sounds like death has come back to life.
  • Notice the descriptions or titles attributed to Jesus in the story:
    1. “servant” (v13) which reflects the language of the Servant Messiah in Isaiah (eg, Isa52);
    2. “Holy and Righteous One” (v14) which seems again to point to the Messiah (note Mark 1:24);
    3. “author of life” (v15) – this doesn’t seem to have any past usage but clearly refers to Jesus’ divinity and work in creation. John 1 covers this theology and it’s brilliant to see Peter, only weeks after the resurrection, preaching this conclusion about Jesus.
    4. “Messiah” (18 and 20)
    5. “Prophet like [Moses]” (v22) – from Deut 18:15
  • The sermon from Peter is quite similar to the sermon in chapter 2. It’s where it differs which helps us to learn. Peter continues to emphasise the teaching of the Old Testament but rather than quoting as much as he did in chapter 2, he refers to key figures in the Old Testament: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, “all the prophets” beginning with Samuel, Moses. Jesus is the fulfilment of all that God has been promising beforehand.
  • Peter is encouraging the Jews to respond to all of this on the basis that the promise is first for the Jews (v25-26). The inference is that if they don’t accept Jesus as the Messiah, then others will be offered the gospel to accept.
  • Verse 18 – God fulfilled, God foretold – the Jews recent participation in the death of Christ was part of God’s plan. This doesn’t make what they did any less wicked and wrong – they killed the author of life! But repentance and forgiveness is still there’s to take hold of if they would turn to God.
  • Verse 19 – Repentance means turning to God. These are not two things. We can say sorry but it is only valid if you turn to the one you are sorry to! It’s being turned away from God and working, seemingly, against him that we are to repent of and be sorry for.
  • “Times of refreshing” – here is a recollection to the Deuteronomy choice: choose life or choose death! Choosing life will see you live long in the land that the Lord has given you! The difference now is that the times of refreshing are looking forward to the reality of the kingdom of God. See verse 21 which describes when the time comes for God to restore everything! So the times of refreshing are not prosperous times here on earth but are the day ahead of us when God restores all things – that is, when Jesus returns and the new heaven and new earth are revealed.
  • “Completely cut off from their people” – This is the flip side of the coin – if you do not repent, you will miss out on the refreshing times and will be cut off and removed from the people of God.
  • The Jews all needed to come to terms that Jesus Christ the Nazarene is the suffering servant, the holy one of God, the author of life and the Messiah whom God has promised. Unless they turn to God and repent, they will not be saved.


Peter has taken another opportunity to teach his fellow Jews that Jesus is the promised Messiah and that all of his brothers, the descendants of Abraham, must turn from their wickedness and turn back to God. God will make all things new through Jesus.


  • Faith healing is not about the power of the preacher/healer, but of the trust that we place on Jesus. This does not mean that we need more or greater faith in order to receive healing, but that our trust and confidence must be in Jesus. It’s not ours to demand a healing, but it is Jesus’ who demands to be trusted.
  • Peter had preached that Jesus is Lord in chapter 2 and his message and focus has not changed in chapter 3 – nor will it for the rest of his days or the book of Acts. The question of who Jesus is to us is key to Christian ministry. Who do you say that Jesus is?
  • Jesus had said that he would work first in Jerusalem before the gospel goes beyond (Acts 1:8) and this sermon is directed to the Jews in Jerusalem. Therefore, the mission of God is going exactly how God said that it would. He uses us to preach and teach and speak about Jesus but it is his mission.
  • Jesus is the author of life – in the name of Jesus, we will see people move from spiritual death to spiritual life – their sins are wiped out! And in the name of Jesus, we will see the whole of creation see refreshing and restored times – illustrated by the lame man. Are we living like the cripple who didn’t expect much improvement or are we seeing clearly like Peter who waits for the Messiah to return and make all things new?!

Prayer for the week

Author of life, wake us up to the mission you have for this world. Gift us with great joy to be praising you for the life you have given us and for the refreshing times you promise ahead. 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.


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.


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.


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.


  • 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.

The Incarnation of Deity – Matthew 1

We reach the end of our year and the approach of Christmas. First thing on the agenda today is “when do Growth Groups finish up?” The rule of thumb I run with is that we follow the public school holiday schedule but decide within each of our groups when is a good time to wrap things up for the year. For some groups, last week was the final week for the Growth Group gatherings. For others, you may wish to keep meeting until the week before Christmas (public schools break up on the 19th of December.

For those who have ceased to meet or will meet one last time over a meal or celebration – God bless you. Stay in touch with one another. See you at church!

For those who still wish to meet, the final two studies for the year are in Matthew chapter 1. Matthew 1:1-17 “Incarnation” and Matthew 1:18-25 “Deity”. I won’t break down these verses for you here but will remind you of the process we have been going through this year.

1) Pray and read the passage several times.

2) Look at the context of the passage and the book. Where does this fit in the story of the book (Matthew) and of the whole bible story (the dawn of the NT). What questions does this context leave hanging?

3) Look hard at the passage and try and note things that are interesting, intriguing, puzzling, repetitive and so on. In the case of Matthew chapter one, it would be handy to look up meanings of names and lookup a concordance on where the names are mentioned elsewhere in scripture. What about the structure – do you notice anything about the flow of the passage?

4) How can you sum up all that you’ve looked at? Can you state the meaning of the passage in less than 30 words?

5) Now to apply the passage to yourself. What does the passage say again? Now ask: so what!? What difference does this make? And finally ask: now what!? What must I do now that I have this knowledge? Also apply the 2 Timothy 3:16 principle to apply it well. What does it teach, rebuke, correct or train me in righteousness?

6) Pray.

This is likely to be the last blog for 2014. Please contact me with any questions or concerns if you have them. Please pray for all of us working together for the sake of the gospel. Have a great Christmas reflecting well on the day when God walked in man’s shoes.

God bless,