Jul 31 2022 The Gospel - Turn to Jesus

Acts 17:30

30 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,

Several of the gospel messages in Acts mention REPENTANCE.

Does the gospel require that we repent?

Back in the 70s, when I was on campus at Ohio State – Campus preachers would yell at people to REPENT! And they would name specific sins – and it was really rude.

Were they doing what the apostles were doing?

We need to read this in its context. He is speaking to gentile believers

Acts 17:16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was greatly upset because he saw the city was full of idols…

We may sometimes feel that way…

Paul finds methods of connecting by finding things they can agree on…

"Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: 'To an unknown god.' Therefore what you worship without knowing it, this I proclaim to you.

You are worshiping things, but don’t know what you are doing – but I will tell you about the true God.

your own poets have said, 'For we too are his offspring.’ 29 So since we are God's offspring, we should not think the deity is like gold or silver or stone, an image made by human skill and imagination.

These things you are worshiping are not gods at all…

30 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,

Now that Jesus has come, it is time to repent and lay aside the idols.

The campus preachers used REPENT! Like an angry parent shaming a child. A lot of us have it in our mind that that is what repenting is – being scolded. But repent is only a religious word. For those who knew Hebrew and Greek – it was a common word – to turn – or to change course or direction – same with the Greek – Change your mind…

If I were to say – Turn to see how beautiful it is outside… you would turn around. But if I said, REPENT to see how beautiful it is outside… - You’d be confused!

Turn away from all these idols and other gods and turn toward the one true God, Jesus the Messiah.

It is impossible to be saved if you don’t turn from a life without Jesus and turn toward a life WITH Jesus.

As Chris said last week – it is only through Jesus that a person can be saved.

Peter is talking to Jews – The Gentiles had many different gods.

Acts 3: 14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a man who was a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the Originator of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this fact we are witnesses!... 17 And now, brothers, I know you acted in ignorance, as your rulers did too… "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you,

Peter uses STRONG but gracious connections. When he tells them to repent, he is telling them to repent of rejecting Jesus and to turn to Him as Messiah God. You cannot reject Jesus, even if you believe in God.

Acts 2: 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know beyond a doubt that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ." 37 Now when they heard this, they were acutely distressed and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "What should we do, brothers?“ 38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

They did not believe, they rejected Jesus as their Lord – and Peter says, you must turn from that way of thinking – but turn to Him as Lord and Messiah if you wish to be saved.

That brings up another point in the gospel that I forgot last week in my diagrams.

Lord and Christ – in vs. 32

This is the ascension…

32 This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 So then, exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you both see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend into heaven, but he himself says, 'The Lord said to my lord, "Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."'

Ascension plays a huge role in the gospel preaching in the book of Acts. You might think, why? It is about Jesus’ enthronement as king – and from that throne He reigns – and it is confirmation of His deity – both Lord and Christ.

Back in the 80s in America there was a big debate among Christian circles – Lordship Salvation – the heavyweights of Christianity weighed in – as people were going up for altar calls, but not changing, - calling it easy-believism and cheap grace

But the general conversation is not how the Bible addresses the issue – and I think it is from a failure to address the ascension in the gospel – Jesus becoming King and Lord.

I also think there was a failure in our English translation to understand certain words – one is FAITH – by grace you are saved through FAITH –

The Philippian Jailer – what must I do to be saved? Believe in Jesus.

Faith – we think of as trust, or believe – but it also means faithfulness. It could be translated and should be translated more as FAITHFULNESS – but it also means loyalty and allegiance.

All of these uses are found in the gospel – and the Acts presentations of the gospel.

There was an illustration we used to use – as people would say – I believe in Jesus – the historical figure.

Do you believe that this chair will hold you? Then sit in it!

But it is much more than that.

For clarification – take the word HARD

If you fell down the steps onto the concrete – you would break something because concrete is HARD.

For some of us, calculus is hard, but you won’t break anything, except for maybe some pencils.

IN a couple weeks – the contractors will come in to put a ramp in. There have been times where I have had to bust up concrete sidewalks with a sledgehammer – it is HARD. And the concrete is HARD.

We take the words of the gospel – Grace/repent/ and this concept of LORD and Messiah – What does LORD mean to you? Jesus. For them, it was a common secular word – lord – master, god…

IN the early church, there was a lot of persecution. And to avoid being killed, ones would have to renounce their faith – and to proclaim publicly that Caesar is lord. They are to swear loyalty and allegiance to Caesar. In the Roman Empire, when someone came to Jesus and said Jesus is Lord, they were also saying – and Caesar is not. It was a change of allegiance.

We don’t have kings or swear allegiance to any king. We don’t swear allegiance to a president – or we should not. Appointees don’t swear loyalty to the president, they swear loyalty to uphold the constitution.

I thought of an illustration that might be better – Citizenship.

Think of repentance and loyalty – swearing of allegiance – as you changing your citizenship – renouncing your American citizenship so you can become a citizen of another country. Canada – or worse – Russia – I’m not saying that you should do that – but just illustrating what it meant to turn TO Jesus – what they had to do. How serious and radical repentance and faith in Jesus were! And yet, at the same time, it is not scolding and shaming. It is turning from one citizenship – or a lord or god that is nothing in comparison to what we are turning to.

We are to become children of God, citizens of heaven. From a wicked lord to one who loves and cares for us – who asks us to repent – to turn from a life without Jesus – and toward a life WITH Jesus.

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