Margin notes for 5/5/2K9 – Do you know the Gospel?

notes-21 – Acts 10:34-43 4o Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

RAF: How timely this portion is for our day. What constitutes the Gospel is a matter always needing resolved – for as many as there are people it seems, so many opinions there are about what one must believe to be a Christian. Thanks to passages like this, we have a clear and full account of it. So that there be no mistakes, the Holy Spirit preserves such an account as this. Here, you have the Gospel being brought to those with no previous exposure to it at all. Peter presupposes nothing on their part. He does not try to make any apologetic regarding whether or not God exists – this he takes for granted. And with that foundation – he then goes on to give us the essentials. I might add that when we neglect such elements as we see brought out here, we are probably giving too brief an account. We need to be willing to take the time with people to spell out the full case. Note these particulars of the Gospel then:

1. vss. 34 & 35 / The Gospel is of equal applicability to all. There are no special groups (or individuals) from whom the Gospel is to be withheld, nor any to whom it belongs exclusively. Peter begins by assuring them they have an interest in it. And I want to assure you that YOU have an interest in it. God has sent His Church into the world to announce the good news of His willingness to receive any and all who come to Him by faith in Jesus Christ. If you come with your sin, He will have mercy on you. Not only is He willing to forgive, He makes you a new creature – and adopts you into His family. He gives eternal life to those who put their trust in Him.

2. vs. 35 / God receives all who set themselves to seek Him. In this, we are brought to be reminded that the Spirit of God is at work in the world (John 16:8). It is true that no one seeks God AS God on their own (Rom. 3:11). But we must be careful not to absolutize texts like Rom. 3:11 so as to deny texts like John 16:8. The Spirit is at work. All sorts of people are aware that something is terribly wrong and are seeking for an answer on the level they understand it, and, the Spirit of God is creating in some a true hunger for God and salvation. It is not a product of their own making, but it is real nonetheless. We find men in differing places in this way. Some are aware of their guilt, but not of Christ’s righteousness or the reality of coming judgment. Some sense doom ahead, but do not know it is due to sin and related to Jesus Christ. Some are self-righteous and have no sense that they need His righteousness imputed to them. Some are bind to all three, and others awake to all three (like Cornelius) and yet without the Gospel. We must cooperate with what the Spirit is already doing and not reduce the Gospel to a “one size fits all” presentation which does not take into account where they really are and which aspects need most to be dealt with.

3. vs. 36 / Jesus is Lord of all (God) – and the Gospel of peace is about Him, and tied to His Lordship. If Christ is not God, there is no peace, there is no salvation. No one who denies that Jesus is God is a Christian – irrespective of the outward trappings. One must receive Him as their God so as to set their lives to worship and serve Him as God – if they would be His. Christians may be – and indeed are, more than. but certainly not less than – those who serve Jesus Christ as God.Is He YOUR Lord? Or are you still trying to be the lord of your own life. He made you for Himself. And He is looking to reclaim you for Himself.

4. vs. 37 / Jesus came within the context of repentance from sin, and faith toward God. There is no salvation apart from these two things. Let no one imagine they can come to Christ while at the same time remain their own Lord or without being engaged in throwing off the sin He died for. Turning from serving sin, self and false belief systems is at the heart of repentance. And one must not simply believe the facts of Jesus death on the Cross for sin – one must actually trust Christ personally as THEIR substitute, their own sin-bearer. They must rely on His substitutionary atonement as the only means whereby they are reconciled to God, forgiven of their sin, adopted into God’s family and promised eternal life.Is there anything you are unwilling to forsake in order to have Him? Then think about it – whatever or whoever that is – that is the value YOU have placed upon your own soul. That is how much you think you are worth. That’s all.

5. vs. 38 / Jesus came in the full manifestation of the Spirit of God, and in His ministry demonstrated God’s good will to all. Thus the Gospel offer is built upon a demonstration of His willingness to receive and heal. Salvation does not rest in a mere fleeing from the wrath to come. Certainly, that is contained in it, but one must be convinced that God has good will toward them and desires their salvation if faith is to be authentic: For “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.” (Hebrews 11:6) Unassured of these two things – one is not exercising true saving faith.

6. vs. 39 / Jesus was crucified. (See: 1 Cor. 15:3-4) Apart from His substitutionary atoning death, there is no means whereby men’s sins can be forgiven, and God remain just in His pardoning and saving us. He must judge sin. And if we do not accept the propitiation held out before us to be received by faith (Rom. 3:25) we must take upon ourselves the full responsibility for our sins and the eternal damnation that is the just penalty for them. Can you look at the Cross and know that you deserved that punishment? Then look at it and see Him there instead of yourself. And you will have some grasp of how much He loves you – and how He has made a complete satisfaction for sin.

7. vs. 41 / But He was also verifiably raised from the dead by God on the third day. (See: 1 Cor. 15:3-4)

Christ’s death on Calvary, apart from His resurrection would save none. Scripture ties our “justification” – our being declared righteous with His righteousness – to His resurrection (Romans 4:25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.) 1 Cor. 15 makes it abundantly clear that to deny the resurrection is to deny the Gospel. If He is not raised, we are still in our trespasses and sins – and there is no hope. One must believe in Christ’s resurrection or they cannot be saved. And, I might add, that His resurrection is the firstfruits of our own. Do you believe, do you KNOW, God has raised Him from the dead?

8. vs. 42 / He commanded it be preached that He is the Judge of all mankind. That judgment is still coming on all who refuse the Gospel and die in their sins unreconciled to God is part and parcel of the whole picture the Gospel presents. This is our salvation – deliverance from the wrath to come – so that we might be eternally joined to God. And how is this wrath to be carried out? Acts 17:31 (ESV)
he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

9. vs. 43 / He is in fact the great subject matter of the Scriptures – of all of God’s revelation to mankind.

The Gospel makes it clear that Jesus Christ – His divine person and work in His incarnation, death, burial, resurrection, ascension and return – IS the centerpiece of God’s redemptive plan. He is the centerpiece of all truth. Reality cannot be truly grasped apart from Him taking His rightful place as the key to it all.

10. vs. 43 / Forgiveness of sins is found in His name. And, we might add – no where else. Acts 4:12 (ESV) And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Here then is a wonderful means whereby we can see whether or not we are preaching or believing “The Gospel” – or merely annunciating some true but disconnected facts that do not truly communicate the Gospel at all. These, are essentials.

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