Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It’s necessary for heaven to receive [Jesus] until times of restoration for all the things God spoke about through the mouth of his holy prophets of long ago. - Acts 3 & 4

This part of Acts seems to move energetically and purposely through what transpired in Jerusalem before corruption from within and persecution from without forced many Christians out and thus ignited the explosion of Christian missionary work and the spread of the apostle's message. I get pumped just reading through it.

When you look at Peter’s words to the people and the temple authorities, you don’t see dry speeches. He doesn’t give doctrinal dissertations, though teachings are certainly contained in them. And he doesn’t give motivational speeches intended to encourage people to just be more socially active and live moral lives while quoting “Old Testament examples” here and there, though living a holy life is part of it. In Peter’s words you see him telling the climactic event of the grand epic that Moses and the Prophets were all leading up to, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead! Peter heals this man born crippled so that he can focus (the healing is called a sign) on telling the people and the temple authorities about what Jesus has done to restore all things (as he did this born crippled) and bring about promised the time of restoration.

Now, I have to admit. I know I don’t yet fully understand all the details of the temple gates and colonnades, or the terms like Righteous One and Holy One. But I see in general how they’re talking about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead as the climax to God’s story, which Peter refers to when he quotes passages about Creation, the covenant promise to Abraham, Moses, David, and the “holy prophets of long ago.” This is what "preaching the Gospel" is like! The scope is immense and just pulls you in (just look at 4:16, not even the authorities could stop the message and fervor from spreading). It reminds me of key restoration verses where we see God doing a “new thing,” like Romans 8:18, 2 Peter 3:13, or Revelation 21:1,5. Peter’s speeches, of course, remind us that we shouldn’t flatten out the good news about Jesus to this simple bland “how to get to heaven” mantra. That just doesn’t do any justice to God’s creating, redeeming, and sanctifying (setting apart for a special use) purposes.

I should mention 4:32-37. Here’s a glimpse into the daily life of the early Jerusalem church. Just like 2:44-45, the good news about Jesus and the message of his restoration led the “new people of God” to share everything and make sure there weren’t any needy people among them. I know Luke mentions this at least partly in anticipation of 5:1-11, but what do you think Luke is getting at? How does this fit in the structure and outline of the book? Is this section descriptive (simply telling us what happened), or prescriptive in at least some way (advocating a new way of living)? Also, I find it curious that 4:33 is where it is. Between the sentences about this sharing and helping the needy we see that being a witness and testifying to Jesus’ resurrection is key.

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Reformation True

Reformation True
Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura