Script for the June 17th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.

Introduction

Welcome to the June 17th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.

Today’s reading is Nehemiah 7-9 and Acts 3, but we will focus only on the New Testament in this podcast.

If you have questions about anything in the Old Testament or New Testament reading assignment, please email me at mattellis1997@gmail.com. I may answer it on the next podcast.

Acts 3

As chapter 3 begins, we observe that the early Christians didn’t meet in church buildings like we do today. They met in the Temple, and they met in houses.

Acts 3:1 (CSB): “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple for the time of prayer at three in the afternoon.”

It seems that the early Christians wanted to maintain a closeness to Judaism. Many of them were Jews who had worshipped in the Temple. Now, they were Messianic Jews who had no problem at all with worshipping their God through their new relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple.

That’s why Peter and John were going to the Temple at 3 PM. We may assume that they were going there to lift their hearts and voices to the Lord in prayer.

As they approached the Beautiful Gate, they saw a man that was in desperate need of help.

Acts 3:2 (CSB): “A man who was lame from birth was being carried there. He was placed each day at the temple gate called Beautiful, so that he could beg from those entering the temple.”

A man who had lacked the use of his legs since he was born was carried daily to the Temple to ask for money. There were no other means of sustaining oneself in that first-century society. There were certainly no government programs. If family and friends didn’t help, the feeble were forced to rely upon strangers. If strangers didn’t help, they starved to death. This man was destitute.

Acts 3:3-4 (CSB): “When he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple, he asked for money. Peter, along with John, looked straight at him and said, ‘Look at us.’”

The man who was reduced to a beggar saw Peter and John. He called out to them, just as he had with everyone else who passed, begging for them to show compassion and give him some money with which to buy food and any other need he might have.

When Peter and John looked at him, they observed that as much as he needed money, there was something that he needed much more. They engaged him in conversation by saying, “Look at us.”

What was this man’s greatest need? We would readily say that he needed to receive the Gospel. But I have observed that many people are incapable of listening to the Gospel if another need is crying out to be met. So, it is sometimes appropriate to provide a meal or meet some other immediate need before following up with the Gospel. That’s why the first thing they did for this man was heal his legs.

Acts 3:5-6 (CSB): “So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them. But Peter said, ‘I don’t have silver or gold, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!’”

What happened next?

Acts 3:7-8 (CSB): “Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong. So he jumped up and started to walk, and he entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.”

The man was healed. He got up and walked and then started to jump up and down. He was overwhelmed with happiness. He was no longer a beggar dependent upon others. He could now live his life, providing for himself as most other people did.

But let’s ask the question: Is this normative? Should miraculous healings be a normal thing for Christians even today? Our charismatic friends believe that it should be normal.

First of all, why were miracles performed in the first-century church? They simply validated the truth that God’s people spoke. They caused people to sit up and listen to the Gospel proclamation, realizing there was something much bigger going on than someone merely speaking words.

But there are Bible passages that lead us to believe that the time of miracles has ceased.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (CSB): “Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end.”

As we read the previous verses, it tells us that the time for supernatural gifts would come to an end. In fact, it says “to an end” twice in those two verses. It’s pretty emphatic.

But those verses also tell us when the miraculous gifts will come to an end. They say, “but when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end.” “The perfect comes” can’t be talking about Jesus because Jesus had already come and gone when those words were written.

So, what is it referring to? What is perfect that was coming? Listen to this next verse.

James 1:25 (CSB): “But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works—this person will be blessed in what he does.”

“The perfect law of freedom” is the Bible. It is the perfect thing that was to come. So when the Bible was complete, and God had told us all that He desired to tell us in His Word, the age of miracles came to an end.

Does that mean that miracles cannot happen today? Of course not. Miracles can still happen, just as I spoke yesterday about my conviction that it might still be possible for someone to experience the gift of languages. But it is not normative now. It is not the normal way that God works among His people after the Bible was completed.

Well, getting back to Acts 3, we realize that the miracle caught the crowd’s attention. Things like this didn’t just happen. Listen to how the crowd responded to the crippled man being healed.

Acts 3:9-11 (CSB): “All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized that he was the one who used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate of the temple. So they were filled with awe and astonishment at what had happened to him. While he was holding on to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astonished, ran toward them in what is called Solomon’s Colonnade.”

The crowd was amazed at the miracle that was performed. Apparently, Peter and John had stepped away from the Beautiful Gate and made their way into the Temple area. The crowd went looking for them. And just as Jesus had done before, Peter and John were going to take this opportunity to share the Gospel with them.

Acts 3:12 (CSB): “When Peter saw this, he addressed the people: ‘Fellow Israelites, why are you amazed at this? Why do you stare at us, as though we had made him walk by our own power or godliness?’”

The first thing that Peter did was to deflect the attention away from John and him. He made it clear to the crowd that he had no power to heal the man.

Friend, humility is a sign of spiritual maturity. When we are proud and receive the acclaim of those around us, then we are far from the Lord in our hearts. But if we enjoy the Lord and acknowledge His power and grace in our lives, then we will quickly and wholeheartedly point to Him whenever someone wants to exalt us.

After clearing this matter up, Peter immediately started talking about Jesus.

Acts 3:13 (CSB): “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied before Pilate, though he had decided to release him.”

As if there was any suspicion that some other deity had healed this man, Peter and John said that He was “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” The God of the Old Testament had glorified His servant Jesus by having Him offer up His life on the cross and rise from the dead. His glorification from all of us will happen when every knee will bow and every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord.

Yet, there is an irony here. Even as the God of Abraham worked to glorify Jesus, the descendants of Abraham had worked to kill Jesus by denying His release from Pilate’s authority. They had demanded that Jesus die.

But Peter isn’t finished working with the Holy Spirit to cultivate conviction in the hearts of his hearers. He continues.

Acts 3:14 (CSB): “You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer released to you.”

Peter boldly said they had denied affiliation with “the Holy and Righteous One.” Their rejection and murderous desires of someone so righteous were clearly unjust. The thoughtful among the crowd would understand that they were now under God’s wrath for killing His Son.

That’s when Peter plunged the knife of conviction into their heart with a bit more irony.

Acts 3:15 (CSB): “You killed the source of life, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this.”

Did you catch the irony in Peter’s words? He said that they killed the source of life. The One who created all life and sustains all life is the One they put to death.

And Peter said: “We are witnesses of this.” In other words, “We saw you do it!” Peter and John observed the crowds that called for Jesus’ death. They watched as Jesus was put on the cross and died to the satisfaction of the crowds. Peter and John watched this happen. They were witnesses. And according to Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:16, “every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.”

By this point in Peter’s speech, the people are emotional. Some might have been angry, but apparently, many were broken. They knew what Peter said was true, and they wanted to know how they could make it right.

I believe Peter’s message demonstrates the journey of a typical Gospel message. It deals with the hard stuff first. It talks about personal sin and personal guilt. But the Gospel is Good News, so it doesn’t end with feelings of conviction. The Gospel provides a remedy. And that’s what we see Peter’s message doing now. He begins to point to Jesus as the way.

Acts 3:16 (CSB): “By faith in his name, his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Jesus has given him this perfect health in front of all of you.”

In this verse, Peter brings up two major themes as a resolution to their guilt: Jesus and faith.

Peter points to Jesus as the One who healed the man. Thus, He points to Jesus not as a dead Savior but as a living, infinitely powerful, gracious King.

Peter also speaks of “faith in his name.” Peter was pointing to the fact that the crippled man was healed by trusting in Jesus to do the work. Peter and John didn’t have the ability to fix the man’s problems. But as they trusted in Jesus, He healed the man. Faith (trust) is the means by which we experience the blessings of God.

After bringing up these themes, Peter now works to comfort the crowd while preparing to call them to Jesus.

Acts 3:17-18 (CSB): “And now, brothers and sisters, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your leaders also did. In this way God fulfilled what he had predicted through all the prophets—that his Messiah would suffer.”

Peter gave the crowd the benefit of the doubt. Sinful hearts had blinded them, and they didn’t realize what they were doing to the Son of God. Yet, even as they unjustly worked to put Jesus on the cross, God was fulfilling “what He had predicted through all the prophets.” So, even when we sin and experience the rightful guilt for our actions, our powerful God is able to take our sin and work it out for good.

Now, Peter is ready for the Gospel call. He has presented the Gospel and is ready to see if there are any souls to reap.

Acts 3:19-20 (CSB): “Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus, who has been appointed for you as the Messiah.”

Repentance again is the theme. Why not faith? Because Peter had just talked about faith in Jesus (v.16). He had mentioned that faith in Jesus was the means by which blessings from the Father could be experienced.

But they needed to be told to repent. They couldn’t merely trust in Jesus to save them. They had to turn from their life of sin and self-rule. They had to recognize that they stood guilty before a Heavenly Righteous Judge and needed to acknowledge their sin and turn from it.

Friends, faith is talked about a lot today in churches. But repentance isn’t spoken of too much. Faith is seen as positive, but repentance is seen as negative by many preachers and so-called Bible teachers. So they don’t talk about it. But repentance is absolutely necessary in order to be saved. If someone expresses faith in Jesus but doesn’t repent of their sin and self-rule, I doubt that they can be saved.

Just take note that Peter knows that salvation comes by faith, but he is choosing to simply use the word “repentance” as a means of salvation. Repenting of our sin is that serious.

So what is the result of communal repentance and faith according to Peter’s words?

Acts 3:20 (CSB): “that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus, …”

The word “refreshing” is a reprieve from difficulties. This seems to point directly to the millennial kingdom when Jesus comes back to reign on this earth for 1,000 years. You can read about the millennial reign of Jesus in Revelation 20:1-6.

However, I think that this passage can refer to instances of spiritual renewal and revival. There have been multiplied times of refreshing during the church age when Christians confessed sin, got right with the Lord, and experienced a sense of divine immediacy. Many people who have experienced those times of refreshing say that the Lord felt so close and real to them that they sensed His presence in their lives like at no other time.

Friends, we should never be content that we are saved from our sins, from Hell, and from God’s wrath and judgment. We should always desire more of the Lord. Those who have tasted of the Lord have seen that He is good (Psalm 34:8).

While we can experience Jesus in our daily lives, where is He now?

Acts 3:21 (CSB): “Heaven must receive him until the time of the restoration of all things, which God spoke about through his holy prophets from the beginning.”

Jesus is with the Father in Heaven right now. While we can enjoy the ministry of His Holy Spirit in our lives, Jesus will remain in Heaven until the time that God the Father has set to restore all things. That refers to the millennial reign of Christ on this earth that is followed by the creation of a New Earth and New Heavens in which we will enjoy being with our Lord forever and ever.

Then, Peter quoted from Deuteronomy 18:15-19 but abbreviated it for his listeners.

Acts 3:22-23 (CSB): “Moses said: The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen to everything he tells you. And everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be completely cut off from the people.”

Those words are powerful. Peter was saying that Moses prophesied about a future prophet like him. As Peter applied this passage, Peter was saying that Jesus was the New Testament Moses. He had better be listened to and obeyed.

Those who refused to listen and obey would be cut off. When used in the Old Testament, “cut off” typically referred to a death sentence. So Peter is saying that if the crowd before him doesn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah, listen to His Words, and obey Him, then Hell, the place of the second death, awaits them.

Then, Peter tells his listeners to get into their Bibles. He wasn’t telling them anything they didn’t already know if they had been reading and studying their Bibles.

Acts 3:24 (CSB): “In addition, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, have also foretold these days.”

Peter said that all of the Old Testament prophets had made the events of Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection abundantly clear. The people did not recognize Jesus only because they didn’t know the Scriptures.

When Peter said this, I couldn’t help but reflect on the times when Jesus looked at his biblically obtuse audience and said: “Haven’t you read?” A Christian in general and a spiritual leader, in particular, doesn’t have much tolerance for someone who claims to be a God-follower and yet doesn’t know their Bibles.

I didn’t say “read” their Bibles. I said “know” their Bibles. Merely reading doesn’t necessarily cultivate a godly mind and inform our decisions of how we are to think and act. It is intense study of God’s Word that the Holy Spirit can use to affect incredible change in our lives to make us more like Jesus.

Before the priests, the captain of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted Peter and John to stop their preaching in Jesus’ Name, Peter tells the crowd something extraordinary. He says that they can experience the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant if they turn from their evil ways and trust in Jesus.

Acts 3:25-26 (CSB): “You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, ‘And all the families of the earth will be blessed through your offspring.’ God raised up his servant and sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”

In these final words, Peter quoted from Genesis 22:18 and 26:4. He told the crowd that the promise made to Abraham was being fulfilled at that moment. Abraham’s descendent, through whom all of the earth would be blessed, was Jesus. When people turn from their sin and trust in Jesus, they are a part of a movement that will take the nations by storm as the Gospel penetrates hearts.

Friend, the Gospel begins with the bad news that we are not OK. We have broken God’s laws. But then the Gospel gives us the good news that we can be forgiven and brought into God’s family by repenting of our sin and trusting in Jesus. And as more people give their lives to Jesus, all nations of the earth are being blessed through Abraham’s descendent.

One more thing – why do we need to go into all of the world and make disciples? Why is God consumed with reaching all nations? It’s because God wants people from all nations in Heaven with Him.

Revelation 7:9-10 (CSB): “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

Knowing that God wants people of all nations to be with Him in Heaven, we have more work to do, don’t we?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to save us from our sin and guilt. Thank You for demonstrating just how wonderful of a God we serve by allowing Yourself to be our substitute and pay our sin debt to a holy God. And thank You for enabling us to be a part of the story of how You are reaching the peoples of all nations to bring them to Yourself. Help us, Lord, to work to that end. We pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Closing

I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

If looking over the script for this podcast would be beneficial to you, hop on over to my website at mattsmusings.net. I will provide a link in this episode’s show notes.

The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!