Today's passage picks up inside Peter's second sermon in the book of Acts. The prior healing of the lame man and commotion at the temple - was a natural bridge for Peter to proclaim to His fellow Jews, the people of Israel, the gospel message.
We see in Peter's second sermon many familiar themes from Acts 2. Peter is likely speaking to some of the same faces - including representatives from the Sanhedrin. As things unfold – we should take note of the differing results of the gospel preached. In Acts 2, Peter's sermon led to mass repentance and revival. In Acts 4, it leads to a prison sentence!
Peter doubles down on the need for repentance (making his case once again from scripture), but he caveats the plea with some charity. We know that it is a fine line between true charity and perceived condensation. It is likely that the Sanhedrin found (v.17) "I know you acted in ignorance...as did your leaders" as an offensive remark. Although, it is precisely the case – they failed in understanding or perceiving the scriptures.
Jesus was often dismayed at the lack of scriptural understanding, particularly among the religious elite (Mark 12:24, Matthew 22:29). "Haven't you read? Don't you know the scripture? You are Israel's teachers, and you don't know these things?"
Yet – ignorance does not mean innocence. The people of Israel were ignorant of their sin. They were ignorant of their deepest need. In a sense – the Messiah they wanted was that of silver and gold – small, momentary, quick satisfaction. They were ignorant of God's powerful promise and blessing. They were ignorant of the fact that the Messiah would have to suffer and die! They were ignorant of a better, spiritual, mobile kingdom/temple of God!
They looked for a political and military Messiah, and not so much one to (v.26) "bless you by turning every one of you from wickedness." They expected the Messiah in a certain way, but God wanted to give them something much greater.
Beloved, we have talked about the NEED for repentance – but do you know the benefits OF repentance? Do you know WHY we must repent? Do you know the promise of repentance? These promises are true whether it is the first time you have ever repented (and been saved) or the act of daily repentance. Repentance is a gift! It brings life and blessing. As Paul said in Romans 2:4, "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?"
1.) When you Repent: Your Sins Will Be Wiped Out
Even though you murdered the Messiah, acted in ignorance, ran away from home, stole from that person, hated, lied, got caught up with the wrong crowd, cursed God, cursed your family, broken your promises, failed your kids, failed your spouse, lusted, been lazy, been greedy, wasted time, on and on – Turn to God and ALL THIS will be "wiped out" – as if it never happened – annihilated – burned and done with! Grace is STILL offered to you through Jesus Christ. Just like the prodigal son – the arms of the Father are open wide. Therefore – do a 180 – flee to God!
There is forgiveness for the murders of the Messiah of God – there is forgiveness for you. There is no sin that is too big and too bad for the blood of Jesus to wipe out.
Isaiah 1:18, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 43:25, I, yes I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake and remembers your sins no more." Psalm 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Acts 10:15, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."
Ignorance will not save you from your sin. Ignorance will not work on God when judgment day comes. It does not matter our motivation – we all know better. We are without excuse – we have all fallen short of the glory of God. Why do you defend your dirty rags? Stop carrying that heavy burden! Put down the sword. Repent – and you will be washed. You can be free today from all your sin – even the sin that was done against you. Jesus is able.
2.) When You Repent: Times of Refreshing Will Come
The word for 'refreshing' is also understood as 'cooling relief to a wound' or 'balm/oil to itchy dry flesh.' Have you been wounded? Are you restless? Are you thirsty? Come to the fountain of living water!
The twenty-third Psalm describes this kind of refreshing that comes from the good shepherd. (v.3, 5) "You anoint my head with oil. He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul." I don't know about you – but I could use some refreshment! When we weekly gather and confess our sins together – this is not an act of false piety or self-flagellation – this is a plea for refreshment and nearness to the good shepherd! It is a thirst for green pastures and quiet streams! God will restore and Refresh EVERYTHING the enemy has taken. Everything death has robbed us of. Everything sin has tainted. It will ALL be restored – like the story of Job – every tear will be wiped away – every wrong made right.
3.) When You Repent: Jesus Is Sent
This is both a present promise and a coming promise. As Peter said in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit will be poured out on us when we confess our sins. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus.
At our initial conversion, this is true – we are atoned for in the blood of Christ and able to receive the Holy Spirit of God within us. Yet – as Christians, during our sanctification, daily walk, each time we repent and center again on Christ – we are freshly anointed with power from on high.
Belonging to Jesus means we are not our own. Our old self is no more—it has been crucified with Christ in order for the desires of our flesh to be brought to nothing, and the result is that we are no longer enslaved to sin but rather alive to God in Christ (Rom. 6:6, 11).
Even still, we must fight the desires of the flesh. We can't do this by tolerating sin, justifying sin, blame-shifting sin, or managing sin. We must put sin to death through repentance (Col. 3:5) and therefore by the Power of the Holy Spirit.
Also – our repentance and turning to God bring about the day when Christ will physically return and offer this pure bride (the church to God the Father). Your repentance and the repentance of the Jews for Peter was literally hastening this day. We are a part of a victorious, advancing, undefeated kingdom movement that blesses the whole earth. The kingdom of God has been expanding – via repentance and turning to God - Jesus is collecting His saints – restoring everything - bringing every enemy under His feet - even death! (1 Corinthians 15: 24-28).
4.) When You Repent: You Are Spared The Judgment.
Romans 8:1, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death."
Beloved, there is a coming judgment. Jesus will either claim you as His own, washed child – or He will cast you away from His presence. Therefore, repent today! Flee the wrath to come, for "today is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). When we heed this call – we WILL be received in mercy – not condemned. That is a PROMISE. Not only that – but we are received definitely – permanently – perfectly.
Jesus said it in John 3:18, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."
Peter urges the people to heed the words of God's prophet foretold in Deuteronomy 18. God reinforced this at the baptism of Jesus and his transfiguration "This is my son. Listen to Him!" (Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5). Again, in John 6:29, "The work of God is this: believe the one whom He has sent!"
Therefore, beloved, keep listening to Jesus! This morning we heed His words. Not only has the blood of Jesus spared us from judgment - but it continues to spare us from sin's consequences and clinch.
"For Sin shall no longer have dominion over you!" (Romans 6:14). Our repentance as Christians is our continual fight against the judgment of sins' "temporal" consequences as well as the eternal.
As Paul states in Romans 6: 16-18, "Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching (heeding the word) to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness."
Beloved, hear me well. God calls us to repentance to bless us. Not to keep us in a perpetual state of shunning – by no means! That is the work of the devil. Repentance is a glorious thing – a life-giving thing – a refreshing redeeming transaction of love. Do not cower, back away from, or hid for confessing your sin before God. God does not want you to 'get yours' but rather to 'get His.'
“Repentance grows as faith grows. Do not make any mistake about it; repentance is not a thing of days and weeks, a temporary penance to be got over as fast as possible! No; it is the grace of a lifetime, like faith itself. God's little children repent, and so do the young men and the fathers. Repentance is the inseparable companion of faith” (Charles Spurgeon).