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Calling On The Name of The Lord  (e)

Acts 2:21-41

James R. Davis

A Little Leaguer was playing the outfield in the first game of the season. After chasing a long hit and hustling the ball back into the infield, someone asked him how his team was doing and what the score was. The youngster replied that his team was doing well, but that they were trailing 17-0. The bystander asked if he was discouraged at being so far behind, and if he was ready to admit defeat. He came back immediately with this retort: "We aren't beat--we haven't even been up to bat yet!"

Hope is a vital element also in the battle with sin. As we come to these verses, we learned that God has removed the obstacles to our success before we ever got up to bat. Often as we search for hope and confidence, we attend seminars to listen to some of the greatest positive thinkers of our time. We listen to their tapes. We read their books. Those messages convey the idea that no obstacle is too difficult, as long as you think positive. However, as I look back to those messages, I now understand, none have compared with the simple message of God.

God's message via the cross is much different. It is a much simpler message. The message is that God has already removed all the obstacles posing a threat to each of us reaching His potential. That is where the Christian's confidence lies. We have good reason for confidence because God is in Heaven and all power rests in Him. And all who serve Him can draw on His unlimited resources.

Peter reveals the necessary ingredient needed for each of us to begin life anew. It is revealed as he quotes Joel's prophecy. "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Acts 2:21) In a nutshell, this is God's plan for your new lease on life. Peter makes it plain and simple. A new lease on life begins with a Christ-centered life. Life can be salvaged in Christ for all those who call upon his name. A new life in Christ is God's plan for the whole creation --- "whosoever".

Our hope lies in the plan of God. It was provided without respect or partiality for any person. (Acts 10:34-35) It was planned before the world was created. (Ephesians 3:10-15) It is for whosoever calls upon the Lord. This new life can be had by all.

God seeks to restore us in Christ. God's determinate counsel or set will is to restore our God-given dignity through Jesus Christ. There is something that we must ever keep in mind. We are made in the image of God. Sin seeks to destroy this awareness, but sin can never destroy this fact. It is essential, as we suffer from our own wrongdoing and as we begin to lose sight of this fact, we focus on God's original purpose for our lives through Jesus Christ.

Jesus' death is our assurance that God desires to save each of us. Jesus did nothing to change God's attitude toward us. In our minds we may contrast a loving devoted savior to an angry vengeful hateful God. We think that Jesus came to change God's attitude toward us. It was by God that Jesus was sent. It was God who planned his Son's death on the cross. It was God's love that made the cross possible. (John 3:16-17) (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible, The Acts of the Apostles, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia. p. 22)

God's Promises Are Not Predictions (2:22-28)

Acts 2:22-28
"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him: 'I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.'"
God's promises are more than predictions. We must never overlook the implication of fulfilled prophecy to our own personal lives. God's promises are provisions for a new foundation upon which to live. You can build your life upon his foundation regardless of where you are coming from. Peter shows Jesus' death and resurrection to be the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.

Peter says that David said, "I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken, therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope . . . Thou has made known to me the ways of life; thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence." (Acts 2:25-28)

If David knew of the hope and assurance this prophecy afforded, how much clearer should we see the reality of it for our lives? Shouldn't our hearts be glad and our tongues rejoice --- shouldn't our lives be lived in hope ---- God has made known unto us the way of life --- he has filled us with his presence!!! Why shouldn't we rejoice over the bright future God holds in store for each of us?

Imagine standing in the crowd on Pentecost accused of committing the greatest crime in history. They came face to face with their wickedness. The crucifixion of God's Son. Peter turns it around showing it to be the fulfillment of God's foretold plan. "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose [God planned the cross.] and foreknowledge; [It was no accident; God arranged it.] and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross . . . Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:23, 36) God has made him your Lord and savior.

The cross of Christ was no accident, although this fact in no way lessened the crime of those who crucified Jesus. It was the greatest crime of history. God used their sinful crucifixion of his Son to bring about their salvation. God used their past behavior to bring them to a recognition of their need for the present. This doesn't mean that God approved of their sinful behavior. But it does tell us that their past was forgiven before it was even lived. This is what we must accept. The cross was not some emergency measure or last ditch effort to fix what was broken. According to God's set purpose, it was fixed before it was broken.

The worse thing you could do to me is kill my children or grandchildren. I would much rather you kill me. If I could forgive a person who killed my children, I could forgive anything. So it is with God. This is heaven's message as seen in this chapter of Acts. If God used his Son's death to remove the obstacle of sin, then He has used his Son's death to remove all the obstacles that pose a threat to our salvation.

The death of Christ was a little different. Paul said, " . . . God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself . . . . " (2 Corinthians 5:19). It was through his death that God had planned to salvage our lives. The cross of Christ was so sure to happen that Isaiah spoke of it in past tense hundreds of years before it occurred.

Isaiah 53:4-6,10
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all . . . Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

I John 2:1-2
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Our Hope Lies In The Resurrection (2:29-36)
Acts 2:29-36
"Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, "'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." '"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."


Resurrection power is the ability to bring life out of death, to correct a hopeless situation, to change a person who is irremediable -- that is resurrection power.

Scottish preacher and hymnwriter, Horatius Bonar, told about an unbeliever who said scoffingly, "It is upon an empty tomb that Christianity is founded." That critic felt he was making a damaging remark, but he was actually stating a powerful proof for Christ's claims. Christianity is what it is because of that empty tomb. As believers in Christ, we know that our faith has a solid foundation because He arose from the dead. The angelic announcement "He is not here but is risen," confirmed the fact that sin's penalty had been paid in full.

"When the disciples preached the centrality of the resurrection, they were arguing from experience. After the cross they were bewildered, broken men, with their dream gone and their lives shattered. It was the resurrection that changed it all and turned hopeless men into men pulsating with confidence, and cowards into heroes." (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible, The Acts of the Apostles, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia. p. 22)

It proves that we have a living Savior. It proves that the Savior can conquer death and has power over all our enemies. In fact Christ has already made our enemies his footstool. (2:26) It assures us of our own resurrection with spiritual bodies and new life. It gives influence and meaning to life. It teaches that being dead to sin, we can be alive unto God. ("Some of the teachings of the Resurrection" selected. Pulpit Helps, Apr 1987. Page 15.)

We all are aware of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. By day, Dr. Jekyll was an honored doctor, but by night, he was a monstrous criminal. But all of us have our own difficulties as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Even at moments when we want to do good, we find our own Mr. Hyde. We are fully capable of this. We are capable of putting on a respectable front. But we know that within lurks evil. How easy it is to react with a malevolent nature which responds to malice, and viciousness, and hardness, and callousness, and lovelessness. Even the Jews had on a respectable front when they crucified Christ. Peter reminds them that it was a wicked act.

Is there any hope for conquering this nature for the present? The fulfillment of God's promises and the resurrection provide us with the hope, confidence and assurance we need for the present. Without the resurrection we would have no hope of salvaging our lives. There would be no assurance of salvation. There would be no church. There would be no new beginning. It is the resurrection that gives us assurance of the judgment of sin has been dealt with. (Acts 17:31) It gives assurance that God is presently active in salvaging our lives.

We Must Make A Choice About Salvation (2:36-41)

There must always be a balance between what God has done and is doing for each of us and what we are doing in response to what God has done for us. Initially, their response was to crucify the Messiah. That wasn't a very graceful thing to do. Now that they understand what God was doing, they must make an appropriate response.

Acts 2:36-41
"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-- for all whom the Lord our God will call." With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
We must make a choice. When Peter speaks of the definite determined plan of God, he doesn't mean that these men didn't have a choice about crucifying Jesus. They had a choice in their rejection of Jesus. In their rejection they nailed him to the cross. It was God they nailed to the cross. Sin's ultimate goal is the destruction of God, which is its ultimate outcome in every age. God chose to use their ultimate rejection of Him as the means of their salvation. Now they must make a choice.

The possibilities of evil are within us all. The only way it can be broken is by the death of Jesus. We must understand the meaning of that death. His death erases our past. There is no other way out. Nothing else will work. And if we do not grapple with the evil in us on those terms, there is no other choice left but despair and absurdity.

God has dealt with out past, He has given us confidence for the present, but it is up to us to make a choice about our future. How God has dealt with our past should presently give us assurance, hope and confidence to face our future. How do we react when we are forced to face our past --- the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde within?

When Paul stood before Felix preaching about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix said, "That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you." (Acts 24:25) When Agrippa came face to face with his sins, he simply said, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?" (Acts 26:28) The Jews on Pentecost cried out, "What shall we do?" They wanted to know what to do to salvage their lives for the future.

Will we make a response to save ourselves by availing ourselves of the power of God that is so readily available?

Conclusion:

What confidence this gives us as we accept God's offer of salvation.

A man for years had cheated himself out of the joy of forgiveness. He had felt guilty about the part he played in a college prank, which took the life of a classmate. Though he had confessed his wrong to God, he continued to be so torn up on the inside that he couldn't keep a job or maintain a good relationship with his wife. But one day the mother of the boy who had died stopped in to see him. She was astounded that he had been carrying this load of guilt. She assured him that she has forgiven him long ago and that none of her relatives held any ill feeling toward him. Furthermore, she reminded him that God had erased this unfortunate escapade from the record. Then she gently rebuked him, telling him it was wrong for him to be burdened with remorse. When he finally came to accept the pardon being extended to him, he felt a new sense of freedom, was reunited with his wife, and settled down in a good job.

On Pentecost it was the only hope they had for a new beginning. It is our only hope today.
 
 

 

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