Acts 3 “Times of Refreshing-an Easter Sermon”

Posted on April 12, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Acts 3 “Times of Refreshing”

Easter Sunday 4-20-03 AM

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Outline:

Intro.

I. The Beggar

            1.Crippled from birth and our being natural born sinners

            2. Asking for alms- when new life is available; for what are you asking?

            3. Receiving unexpected new life and jumping for joy

            4. All the people were filled with wonder

II. The Ministry of New Life

            1. The ministers- a team of eyewitnesses

            2. Humility- it’s not about us!

            3. A Faith rooted in history- begin with the familiar

            4. We killed Jesus

            5. But God raised Him

            6. By faith in the name of Jesus

            7. Repent then and turn to God

            8. Else you be cut off

III. Times of Refreshing

IV. Followed By Times of Persecution

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Introduction: In recent weeks we have been studying the message of the cross, the meaning that the crucifixion of Christ has for us. In the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac we have seen the death of Christ as our substitute whom God has provided so that we don’t have to die for our own sins. In Exodus we saw Christ as our Passover Lamb, slain so that the judgment of God upon sin passes over us for we have been covered by the blood of the lamb. We have been delivered from the slavery of sin and set free to worship God. The book of Ruth showed us that our saviour is our kinsman redeemer and the book of Mark showed us that Jesus called himself the ransom price for our sins. In the death of Christ on the cross we have been redeemed, we have been reconciled and we have been justified.

            This morning we will examine this beautiful story in the book of Acts and see the message of the cross and resurrection of Jesus preached, proclaimed and explained by Peter. This morning we will be confronted with the gospel that says we are powerless to save ourselves but that God is eager to save us. Here is a gospel of power, an historical gospel, a gospel of grace and of forgiveness. Are you in need this morning of times of refreshing to uplift your soul? Are you in need of receiving new life? This Easter morning may be the most important day for your eternity if you will listen to and respond to the gospel of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

 

I. The Beggar- Read Acts 3:1-10

            1.First of all notice that this beggar was crippled from birth. We don’t know if this was a birth defect or an injury sustained during birth but the bottom line was that this man never knew what it was like to walk. He had to be carried wherever he went. In those days there were no corrective surgeries, no miracle drugs, not even any wheel chairs. Apparently he was not even taught a skill that he could perform with his hands; therefore, he was completely dependent upon the alms of those who saw him. There would be no social security, no social programs, only the humbling life of a beggar.

            In a way, this man represents all of us who are natural born sinners. We are born spiritual and moral cripples, unable to live the kind of life that would please a Holy God. Now I know that folks generally don’t like to be called a sinner anymore than a handicapped person of today likes to be called a cripple. But sometimes we can pretty up our language so much that we lose something important. We try to pretty it up today by saying “well, nobody’s perfect” or “to err is human” or “I’m only human and make mistakes”. But as nice sounding as all these sayings are, what they are basically admitting is that I am not perfect, and the logical inference of that is that there is a perfect standard by which I measure myself, and I admit that I don’t measure up. That perfect standard is Jesus.

            If we are to ever receive the spiritual riches that Christ wants to give us, salvation, we must begin by admitting that we are sinners by birth, by nature and by choice. Paul writes in Rom.3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. I am a sinner and I cannot change myself. Like the crippled man in the story, I am at a serious disadvantage and in God’s eyes I need a miracle.

            2. This man was placed at the temple gate so that he could beg for alms. As Peter and John were passing by he asked them for money. He was asking for what he was used to and for what he thought he needed. No use in asking to be cured, that was impossible. He knew no better. He may have heard of the miracles of Jesus, and maybe even talked with some fellow cripples who had been healed. But he was never in the right place at the right time to be healed. He was still looking for mere silver and gold. He did not know who Peter and John were in all likelihood nor was he aware of what God could do for him and was going to do for him this day. He was asking for baubles when true riches were right before him.

            What are you seeking in this life? It may be that in this room this morning there is someone who has experienced some of life’s worst disappointments. It may be that inside of you is a terrible secret, an awful hurt, that is just eating away at you, defeating you, dragging you down so that emotionally you are very similar to this cripple. Maybe in life you have been so beaten down that you expect only the worst. Maybe you have tried to reform your ways time and again but to no avail. Maybe you are asking for things like this beggar, things that make sense considering the pain in which you live, but you are in reality asking for the wrong things. Jesus, in a conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 said to her “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

            So much of life is wasted because we ask the wrong questions and seek to satisfy that which is not eternal. We are too easily satisfied with what this world has to offer. We want alms when spiritual healing, redemption and eternal life are right in front of us!

            3. The beggar, though he did not even ask to be healed, was instantly, miraculously and completely healed by God. He received unexpected new life and began jumping for joy! Here we see not just a miracle of healing of the spinal column, a healing of the leg muscles and bones, the nerves and tendons. This is also a miracle of learning because he who had never learned how to walk instantly knew how to walk, run and leap for joy! God completely replaced all that was missing.

            This is what it is like to be born again as Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3. This is being born from above in a powerful and unexpected way. It caught the cripple by surprise; he had not expected it, asked for it or nothing! This is how grace from God works. It comes in His timing in His way to a person who is not seeking it or deserving it in any way. Like physical birth, the spiritual birth happens to you, you are passive, and God powerfully acts upon you out of mercy, even when you are asking for the wrong things.

            Most of us in this room may have been raised in the church and becoming a Christian was pretty much of a normal, natural thing in our experience. But some of the folks in this room were not saved until they were older and they had experienced much sin and hardness of heart. They can really relate to the experience of the crippled man in regards to the suddenness and unexpectedness of God’s saving grace.

            Once the man was healed did he stay on his beggars mat? No! He got up and walked and it says he was even jumping! So too when a person gets born again he or she will not stay passive, they will exercise their faith and start walking with Jesus by faith and jumping out of sin in repentance. The initial aspect to being healed or born again is passive, but brother when you are truly born again you cannot contain yourself, you will express that faith that God has given you and you will be trusting in Jesus.

            4. All the people were filled with wonder. When folks see a miracle they are amazed, it draws a crowd, people are curious. Imagine how the people felt who had known this beggar all of his life! I imagine there may have been some skeptics or critics in the crowd who saw this and said “I knew that guy was faking it all this time!” But the Bible says “they were filled with wonder and amazement” This was a bonified, certified, eye witnessed miracle of supernatural healing of someone who had a birth defect. Quite a bit different from most of the so called miracles you see on some of those religious TV shows. Now mind you I believe that God still heals, miracles do happen, but I think a lot of what we see today are in the category of unseen or unproven miracles and maybe some of them are pure phonies and frauds. But this one this day at the temple gate was a mighty act of God that all could attest to.

            Folks, the greatest miracle of today, or of anytime, is when a sinner, a lost, hell bound sinner, is born again by the power of the Holy Spirit and is saved to walk in newness of life! When God changes a heart of stone for a heart of flesh, a spiritually dead heart for a spiritually alive heart, that is a mighty miracle and that is exactly what God does by his grace. That is what God wants to do for someone here today.

 

II. The Ministry of New Life

            1. Let’s look now at the two disciples through whom God worked this miracle. First of all it is interesting that Peter and John were working together in this situation. Before Jesus’ death we saw the disciples have some arguments and they weren’t exactly working together. Now, after the resurrection they are a team of ministers. They support and encourage each other.

            Being a Christian involves joining a family, a team. There are not to be any Lone Ranger Christians. Look at Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. Do you want to be a part of God’s team of ministers, being used of God for his glory?

            2. Notice the new found humility of this team of apostles. They sense that the crowd wants to credit them for this miracle but they quickly divert the attention to God in v 12f. Again we see the doctrine of God’s grace in this story and in our salvation. It’s not all about me folks, it’s not about us. It’s not about what we can do on our own. It is all about Jesus and what he has done! When you are serving God it is by his grace for his glory that ought to be our attitude and motivation. Christianity is not a self help religion; it is the only grace filled religion in the world. The beggar received grace; Peter and John were the vessels of Gods grace for healing and preaching. It is all about Jesus! They used the man’s need for healing to bring about the preaching of the gospel with power. Felt needs were met in order to bring out the real need for God’s grace to be poured out on religious sinners. Do you want to be a conduit for Gods grace to others?

            3. Notice that in this sermon Peter uses what these people are familiar with to build up to the gospel. He roots his message of God’s grace in the history of the Jewish people referring to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The gospel is rooted in history and our faith has the overwhelming evidence of history to back it up. No other religion is rooted in eyewitness historical testimony as Christianity.

            Too often today the gospel is rooted in personal experience at the expense of its historicity. Our experience should be judged by the objective nature of Gods word. When we submit ourselves to the Resurrected Saviour and become a Christian we are not merely experiencing something in the here and now, we are joining a river of God‘s grace that stretches back thousands of years and goes on to eternity. We are part of a kingdom, the Kingdom of God.

            4. Notice that as part of the gospel we have the bad news that we are responsible for the death of Christ. Peter says “You killed the author of life”. We must understand that Jesus did not only die for us but he died because of us. We have guilt, real guilt before God for this. Only when we confess our sin to God and admit our great sin against Him can we be forgiven.

            Too often today we hear a sugar coated gospel that does not deal effectively with our sin and guilt. Consequently a lot of people think that getting saved is a lot like playing monopoly, you pass GO, you get $200, you die and you automatically go to heaven because God loves everyone. That is a dangerous misunderstanding of the gospel.

            Friend, have you dealt with the realities of your sin before a holy God? Have you confessed your sin to God?

            5. But God raised Him- what sweet words. We killed him, but God raised him. The message of Easter is that Jesus died but was raised again, proving that he is the Son of God and that salvation is assured in his name. We have hope for being born again because Jesus was raised. We have hope for eternal life and being raised on resurrection day because Jesus was raised.

            6. How can I have this new life and this forgiveness of sin? By faith in the name of Jesus. Believe in who he is and what he has done. Trust in him to save you since you cannot save yourself. Commit yourself to his care and follow him in a trusting relationship of obedience.

            7. Repent then and turn to God says v.19. To repent is to change your mind about Jesus so that you lay aside your self wil,l your sins  and selfishness and follow Jesus. To repent is to follow Jesus by faith, leaving your former life behind. It is a change in your priorities and attitude so that now you are focused on Jesus in every area of life. You are on the road to becoming a Christ centered person.

            8.In vv.21-23 we see the hope for Jesus’ return and the threat of being cut off. Part of the gospel is that Jesus is coming back and if you are not ready you will indeed be cut off, that is separated from Christ and his people, cast out of the kingdom into the outer darkness. This is nothing else than a threat of hell fire. I know that people don’t like to hear about hell these days, but the Bible teaches that hell exists and it burns hot for those who have rejected the salvation that is offered in Christ.

III. Times of Refreshing

            In v.19 we are offered times of refreshing. Where are you spiritually this Easter morn? Are you in a spiritual wasteland, a desert where there is no shade, the only breeze is a hot wind that sucks the life out of you? That is how this world can be without Christ. If you want new life, refreshing life, come to the savior this morning. Look at Psal 63.

 

IV. Followed By Times of Persecution

            I can’t tell you this story without giving you a hint of what happens next. Look at Acts 4:1-4. Coming to Christ is on the one hand free, Jesus paid it all and God’s grace is totally free. On the other hand we come to Jesus and pick up his name and a cross to bear. It is a costly choice. I would not try to persuade you to come to Jesus without warning you that it is costly and requires all of your life.

            But thousands responded that day. Will you?

 

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    This blog exists to study the bi-vocational ministry, explore the Bible & Theology, and look at current events, history and other world religions through scripture, and have fun doing it!

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