Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Money Can't Buy Everything - Part 2

I want to spend the second part of this critique talking about the missing part of the message, the good news of Christ. Without this element, all we have is a moral lesson or behavior modification. Christianity is so much more than that! Christianity, as I understand it, is about freedom and Christ, not about law-keeping and me. Even telling people to give glory to God, without sharing His beauty, is a guilt trip that could lead people to (in the words of C.S. Lewis) thinking that God was like an old woman begging for compliments.

Here is the text from Acts 3:11-26 (the missing pieces)

11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

Here are some important elements from those verses:

Vs. 11: The people were "utterly astounded." This opened the door for Peter. In education, we refer to this as a "teachable moment." Peter recognized that the people were hungry for an explanation about what had happened. And Peter was ready!

Vs. 12: Peter made it clear that he was not the power behind the healing. He gave the glory to Jesus. I find it interesting that he says here did not do it "by our own power or piety." This miracle was not a result of Peter's strength or ability to be obedient. And although it is not stated, I believe that we can infer that this miracle was also not due to any strength or piety on the part of the crippled man.

Vs. 13: God did this to glorify Jesus. You remember Him, don't you? He is the one you rejected and crucified.

Vs. 16: This man's healing came through faith. But I find myself asking, whose faith and where did that faith come from? Was it Peter and John's faith, or was it the beggars? If it was the beggar's faith, how did this beggar get faith in Jesus without Peter first preaching Christ? Or was this just an act of the Holy Spirit imparting faith to a man as a gift from God?

Vs. 18: What God promised to do, He did. He sent a Messiah, Jesus Christ!

Vs. 19: "Repent, therefore..." What is the basis of the repentance? It is not said in response to a question, as in Acts 2, but it is a response to what God has done for us in Christ! (Which is the same reason I believe he gave the response he did in Acts 2.) The therefore here refers back to Peter's sermon. We repent because of the faith granted us, we repent because we see Christ as we have never seen Him before. That, in my opinion, is an act of the Holy Spirit.

That is the gospel, my response to what God has done for me. Not me trying to show God how deserving I am of His grace, but me humbly understanding that I desperately need His grace. And if I see myself as the beggar, lame, crippled,  no real friends, etc. and then truly see how wonderful and gracious God is in healing me, there is no other response other than to repent of my sins and turn to God in love and sacrifice.

The healing of this man without the gospel is like Kool-Aid made of only water.  

It might quench your thirst, but it lacks the flavor to keep you coming back for more.

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