GETTING THE MESSAGE/Acts 3: 17-26
In this passage, Peter applies his sermon (verses 11-16) to the crowd of people who are gathered and astonished at a crippled man being instantly healed. Peter has already explained that the man was healed through faith in Jesus of Nazareth. He has also declared that Jesus is the promised Christ of the prophets, and that they are culpable in his death. Very weighty statements.
Now he explains what they must do; repent. Peter then gives reasons to repent, teaching us the nature of repentance. The first incentive is the offer of forgiveness of sins. Peter says, “Brother, I know you acted in ignorance, as did your rulers.” Peter is not excusing their guilt in putting Jesus to death, but he is saying it is forgivable, and their other sins as well.
He continues; “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.”
Obviously, repentance involves knowing (and admitting) the guilt of your sins and turning to Christ. To have your sins “blotted out” means completely absolved, wiped off the record. God remembers them no more. This is how great the grace of God is. Christ has fully paid for sin, all your offenses against God’s law.
The converse of this helps us understand the magnitude of it. To not have your sins blotted out means you are accountable for all of them before God, who hates sin. The grace of God shown to us in the person and work of Christ is amazing, but it also manifests to us the plight of the sinner without it. You are estranged from God and held accountable for your sins. You are justly condemned.
The second reason Peter gives to repent is that “times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” The turning to Christ for forgiveness restores your relationship with the Lord. As much as we may like sin, it is discomforting to the soul. We fear death for a good reason; it is a terrible thing. Christ takes away the sting of death, which is sin. Death cannot harm one connected to Christ.
The sinful nature is such it must die, and a new nature disposed toward God’s glory replaces it, and in it we may enjoy fellowship with God. The struggle against sin remains. But a repentant soul no longer aims to justify his sinful nature, rather to die to it. That is the nature of true repentance. The incentive is it brings joy in knowing the blessedness of God. Christ replaces sin as the object of life.
Peter gives a third incentive in verses 21-22. Turning to Christ will make you a member of his kingdom when he comes again to restore all things. Therefore, turning to Christ is a blessing for you whether it is in the present or the future. Peter wrote in his first epistle that believers in Christ have an “incorruptible inheritance.” And though they have trials now, they also have expectant joy in Christ.
In verses 22-24, Peter appeals to the prophets in the Old Testament who “all” wrote about the coming Messiah. Jesus is the one they wrote of. He quotes Moses in Deuteronomy 18: “The Lord God will raise up a prophet like me from your brothers. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.” Moses was pointing to Jesus of Nazareth.
Moses was a type of Christ. He was appointed by the Lord to be a mediator for the people, to deliver them from bondage. Yet he wrote of a greater prophet to come. He wrote of Christ. Christ brings light in the darkness, life in a world filled with death. There is no way to life apart from listening to him, apart from having him. But if you have him, you have everything.
Peter also mentions Samuel as a prophet who proclaimed the coming of Christ. Samuel was the one who anointed David as king of God’s people. David would later conquer the enemies of God’s people. He too was a type of Christ. His name means “beloved.” Christ is the greater king David pointed to. Christ is the beloved of God, the only begotten Son of God. To love him is the way of life.
Peter is holding out life and death to us. God is saying turn to Christ and live. All the Scriptures have this one redemptive message. Look to the promised one of God (Christ), who destroys the works of the devil, and restores life with God for those under the power of sin and death.
You must ask yourself if you have repented; if you have turned to Christ; if you reckon yourself dead to sin and alive in Christ. If Christ is of greater worth to you than this present world, and if you are looking forward to his day, when he restores all to the glory of God. if you will embrace him and live.