God's Grace-Part III
God’s Grace to a Disobedient People
God’s Grace to a Disobedient People
We are in Acts 13 and as we have been tracing Paul and Barnabas moving through their first missionary journey. At this point on their journey that have come to a town called Pisidian Antioch. While there they went to the synagogue and were invited by the synagogue official to come and give an exhortation or words of comfort derived from the Scripture that was just read. Paul takes the opportunity to proclaim the gospel message to the people from the Old Testament Scripture. As Paul has done this we have found that God has demonstrated grace to a disobedient people. God has always been merciful and gracious and this grace was finalized in Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.
This morning we will see how this can bring the people comfort and how we can find comfort in Jesus’ death burial and resurrection.
Let’s go ahead and look at verses 26-43;
26 “Brethren, sons of Abraham’s family, and those among you who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. 27 “For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him. 28 “And though they found no ground for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate that He be executed. 29 “When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb. 30 “But God raised Him from the dead; 31 and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people. 32 “And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today i have begotten You.’ 34 “As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ 35 “Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.’ 36 “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; 37 but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. 38 “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. 40 “Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you: 41 ‘Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish; For I am accomplishing a work in your days, A work which you will never believe, though someone should describe it to you.’ ” 42 As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath. 43 Now when the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and of the God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God.
We looked at verses 26-29 last week. Jesus had come, being and bringing the message of salvation for the nation of Israel. These people rejected Him. The funny thing is they had the Scripture that pointed to Jesus, they had all they need to know it was Him but they didn’t recognize Him or the Scriptures that pointed to Him. They rejected Him as the Messiah, the One who was chosen by God to rule for all eternity and deliver them from sin. Unaware of what they were doing, they were actually fulfilling the Scriptures they themselves read every Sabbath. Even though they acted in ignorance they were still culpable for what they did.
Finding no reason to put Jesus death except for the fact that He was shaking up their system of power, they rejected the truth for themselves. Just as Scripture taught, Jesus was taken down from the cross and was buried in a rich man’s tomb. Now if the story ended there it wouldn’t be much of a comfort to all people now would it. It would only bring comfort to the powerful because there was no longer a threat to their power. But the comfort in this event is not just in Jesus’ death but also in His resurrection.
By Grace He Brings Comfort
By Grace He Brings Comfort
Verse 30, Paul continues; “But God raised Him from the dead;” Jesus defeated sin, in His resurrection He defeated the curse which is death. This is both physical, a lifeless body, and spiritual, separation from God. This is what original sin has done, it has caused a separation between the Majestic and Eternal Creator of all things and His own creation. We are all dead in our sins, we are all corrupted by sin, Jesus was not. Jesus atoned for our sin. Because of sin the penalty needs to be paid a death needs to occur. Jesus paid for our sin with His own life. That is why Paul tells the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 5:21,
21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Jesus had to die to pay this penalty but what is different about His death is in order to bring us life He first has to be brought back to life. This wasn’t just a swoon theory, Jesus didn’t just pass out and looked like He was dead, and then after He was placed in the tomb was resuscitated. No, that is not what happened here. He really died and Paul says He was raised from the dead. To prove this point Paul follows it up by saying in verse 31; “and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people.” Jesus was seen by a multitude of people. He was truly alive and those who saw Him now go about the earth proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God who is the Messiah and who died and was resurrected from the dead.
Paul writes the same thing to the Corinthian church. Look at this.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. 12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
There are many witnesses to the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead. Not only that I like how Paul continues to write to the Corinthian church. In verse 12 we find the church was questioning something important. “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” Paul preaches in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and this means He has defeated death and this also means He is the first to defeat death so those who trust in Him and believe He was raised bodily, then there is a bodily resurrection waiting for them. We don’t just get buried in the ground but we are transformed and brought before the glory of the Lord.
Look at this Paul continues, 13 “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Chris has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith is vain.” If there is no resurrection of the dead then my standing here and preaching to you is pointless. You might as well believe in annihilation because there is no future hope for you or me.
Paul says even worse then this; 15 “Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” See that Jesus died to pay for the penalty of sin to be victorious over death that was cause by sin. He needed to die to pay the penalty but the victory came in His resurrection. That is why Paul can say oh death where is your victory where is your sting. Our faith is not only in Jesus’ death, but in the fact that He was raised from the dead and is ascended and seated on the throne as King.
I love how Paul ends this to the Corinthians; 18 “Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hope in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitted.” If our hope is only in a good life here on earth what good is that, our hope and our treasure is not in this life but in the life to come. If all we do is chase after our best life now then we should be pitted but we don’t have hope in this life but our hope is in the life to come.
This is the comfort we can find in the Scripture and the comfort Paul is bringing to the people in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch. The comfort is in the fact that Jesus took our death and Jesus also didn’t stay dead but was raised so we can have new life as well.
In verse 32-33 in Acts Paul tells the people in the synagogue, “And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, “Your are My Son, Today I have Begotten You.” They can find comfort in Jesus being raised and they can find comfort that God has fulfilled His promise. Jesus was the long awaited chosen One of God but He was also the promised coming King. God raised Jesus up in the flesh to be King over all the universe. This was a promise God kept. This needed to be done in a special way. See Kings up to this point would be born and would walk the earth, they would rule with a mighty hand and they would die be buried and decay in the tomb. Not Jesus.
Paul continues in verse 34, “As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way, “I will give you the Holy and sure blessings of David.” Did you notice two things in this verse. Raising Jesus from the dead being quantified by no longer returning to decay. So Jesus was not just resuscitated but resurrected completely. Jesus when He walked the earth brought a few people back from the dead. The thing is they didn’t stay alive, they died again. They were for the most part resuscitated. For Jesus this isn’t so, He was fully resurrected. The second important point here is that Jesus was the fulfillment to the prophecy given to David.
Paul quotes Isaiah 55:3 which says this;
3 “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David.
What Isaiah is saying in this verse is God will make an everlasting covenant with the people, because of God’s own faithfulness to David and because of the perfect faithfulness that David’s own descended has shown God. This covenant was realized and finalized in Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus is the One who recieved the promise that God made to David. It was made at His resurrection. Because at Jesus’ resurrection He was raised to power as King. An everlasting King who is now seated on the throne and ruling from on high. It is funny how the nation of Israel rejected God as King and demanded a human King. They recieved a human king and a promise a King would rule forever. They waited on this king and when the King arrived they rejected Him again. Putting Him to death. The thing they didn’t realize is He needed to die and He needed to be resurrected, this was the only way Jesus could sit forever as King and it is the only way man can be brought to life as well.
Look at how Paul continues. He makes it clear the One who he is talking about is not David and David understood this would happen. Look at verse 35. “Therefore He also says in another Psalm, “You will not allow Your Holy One to Undergo decay.” 36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; 37 but He whom God raised did not undergo decay.” Simply put the psalm points to the Holy One chosen by God who would not decay. Jesus was in the ground for three days but in actuality it was less then 72 really He was buried for less then 48. He was buried on a Friday, dying about 3 in the afternoon which is when they would sacrifice the lamb for passover and buried before nightfall, which could’ve been anywhere between 6 and 8 in the evening.
When the women went to the tomb on Sunday it was at sunrise and His body was already risen. So no one knows what time it was but at most He was dead for maybe 36-40. All of this to say He was not dead for long and His body didn’t undergo the corruption of death, meaning decay. Not in the same way as Davids body did. He was buried in a tomb and his body because of sin suffered from the corruption. Jesus on the other hand didn’t suffer this corruption or this decay. He was instead raised to life completely in bodily form, flesh and blood flowing through His veins as though He didn’t die at all. But He did.
By Grace He Brings Freedom
By Grace He Brings Freedom
Paul continues and tells them in verse 38, “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.” Jesus’ death burial and resurrection has done something the Law could never do, brought true freedom from sin. The Law is a standard to show us how to be holy and righteous but it also shows us we can never hit that mark. The Law didn’t produce freedom but exposes our sin.
Paul writes this many years later to the Roman church;
19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
This is what the law does for us, it shows us we can’t be righteous. That is the beauty of what Jesus has done on the cross for us. This is how Jesus has set us free. When Jesus went to the cross a wonderful and amazing transfer happened. Jesus is perfect Holy Righteous and incorruptible. He has no sin in Him at all. He took our place and by taking our place He took our sins. All of them. Now we know this and we understand this. But the transfer was not that in His death we have life it was that when He took our sin and when we acknowledge this reality, He imparts His righteousness on us. This is the transfer, it is called imputation. What the Law couldn’t do Jesus did. The law was to show us God’s grace and Holiness and show us we can’t get there. Jesus has made it possible for us to get there because we have been transferred.
Jesus took our filthy rags and gave us His righteous clothing. We are dressed differently because of Him. The funny thing is He still keeps His righteous clothing but He takes away our filthy ones. This is what God has done for us in sending us Jesus to die in our place. By doing so He has freed us from the bond of sin and the Law. We have been justified, made righteous by the blood of the Lamb.
Paul teaches this to the Roman church;
18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul warns them repentance is needed. Verses 40 and 41 are a warning, “Therefore take heed,” is a key to the fact this is a warning. He continues and says, “So that the thing spoken of in the prophets may not come upon you: 41 Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish; for I Am accomplishing a work in your days, a work which you will never believe, tough someone should describe it to you.” A scoffer is someone who mocks and despises what God is doing. These people will perish or disappear. These are harsh words but if they were not it wouldn’t be much of a warning now would it. These scoffers will never believe, not even if they see it for themselves. Not even if they have the Word of God before them. They are blind to the reality that God is at work and they are blind to God’s Grace. They are disobedient and those sorry people don’t even realize the only reason they even walk the earth is because of the mercy God is showing them. God has the power to wipe them off the face of the earth for scoffing at Him but He is merciful until the day they stand before the judgment seat then His mercy and Grace will be gone for the Scoffer and all they will receive is His just Wrath. This is a powerful warning to repent and to turn to the Grace of God to accept the offer of forgiveness, and receive the righteousness of Jesus as He has taken your sins on Himself.
God’s Word moved the audience so much so that they wanted to hear more. They were begging Paul and Barnabas to come back the next day. God’s grace through the teaching of His word causes a hunger that needs to be satisfied, it is a taste of sweetest honey, the juiciest apples, of the most savory of steaks. It is the taste that keeps you wanting more and when it is all gone your mouth continues to water because of its incredible flavor that you can’t get enough. This is what happens when you get a taste of what God has to offer you, these people felt that taste and these people wanted more. To the point that some didn’t want to wait but followed Paul and Barnabas.
What about you have you felt the taste of what God has given you. Have you seen His grace that He shows you. Has His Grace given you the taste of goodness, a taste that stirs up an insatiable hunger that is only satisfied by Him through His word and even then it doesn’t satisfy but only makes you crave more because it is so incredibly good. Or do you prefer to go after the corruptible decaying rottenness of the world that only leads to an empty feeling and disgust.
Let’s find comfort at the cross, where Jesus took our sin and transferred it with His righteousness. Let’s find comfort in His Word which points to this truth and this reality. Le’s find comfort in the fact that since He didn’t suffer the effects of sin we can one day no longer be effected by sin. This comfort is realized through the preaching of His Word and through the taste He provides to disobedient people. By His Grace He calls us to Himself and by His Grace He cleanses us and by His Grace He Comforts us and by His Grace He sets us Free and by His Grace He Sustains us.