By Faith in His Name
A daily devotion for May 9th
Peter Speaks to the Onlookers
11 While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.
17 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’
24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you — even Jesus. Acts 3:20-21
The healing for the lame man provides the back ground for Peter's address in which he makes this announcement:
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out — and two great things will happen:
times of refreshing will come from the face of the Father, and he will ultimately send Jesus Christ to you to restore all the things. That is a remarkable statement. Peter is looking down the course of the whole age, and he says,
Here are the principles by which God is going to operate: Wherever there is a turning back to him, there is immediately a dealing with the problem of guilt. God wipes out sins.
I do not know anything more difficult to get people to believe than that. It is amazing how many Christians have heard all their lives that God forgives their sins, blots out their sins, deals with this great problem of guilt which is at the root of all human ill — and yet they still do not believe it! They are still trying in some way to work out some standing or merit before God, or to do something in themselves which will make themselves acceptable to him. But Peter says God arouses guilt only because he has the solution to it, and that is the wiping out of sins in the name of Jesus. Faith in the name of Jesus wipes out your sins.
And from that, Peter says,
two things will happen: first, there will come times of refreshing, i.e., periods in human history which will be characterized by relative peace and prosperity, times of order and joy and happiness and relative contentment in society.
After the spiritual awakening of the Wesleys, England was saved from the disaster of revolution which the French had just gone through. The country was turned around, and there emerged a period of relative prosperity and joy and contentment. There were still many problems, granted, but it was a time of refreshing. There have been other such times in history. But these times of refreshing, seasons of refreshing, come only when a people turns to God and seeks the wiping out of sin.
Furthermore, says Peter,
it will result, ultimately, in the return of Jesus Christ. Only when God's people turn back to him is God going to return his Son again from heaven. That confirms what I have long suspected from the Scriptures — that when Jesus Christ returns again, he is not coming back in a time of a low ebb of faith. He is not coming when faith is almost burned out and God's people are going through a time of barrenness, a spiritual desert. Rather, he is going to come back at the height of an awakening, a time when God's people have returned to him, and there has been a blotting out of sins, and there is a release of the fullness of the power of the Spirit. In the midst of that, Jesus Christ will return. The world around will be barren and disconsolate, despairing; but there will be a time of life and vitality in God's people.
Father, thank you that you are eager to deliver men and women from their sins. Thank you that you promise times of refreshing and the soon return of Jesus that will mean the fulfillment of the hopes and dreams of every heart.
Life Application: When the Church and the culture are mutually dysfunctional, we can finger point widespread lack of repentance. What if 'the enemy is us'? Are we part of the blight, or of God's bountiful blessings?
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