“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him” (Acts 3:13).
Like his first, Peter’s second sermon echoed words that were hard to hear; words that were both convicting and indicting. Such is the nature of biblical preaching and the pursuit of faith. If there is no conviction, there will be no repentance. The absence of repentance is an indication of no relationship with the resurrected Christ. Conviction is an indispensable and necessary tension in the life of faith. Without it, you are only practicing a religion of convenience.
“As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14).
In matters of faith, maturity has little to do with biological years. The very young can possess a spiritual maturity beyond their years, just as older adults can display a childishness that betrays their age. Scripture indicates that the spiritually mature reflect a stability rooted in sound doctrine. They do not live as though untaught, gullible; chasing the popular thoughts and trends of the day. In the light of the One who said he “is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), they have found novel and nuanced tangents to be unnecessary.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
Faith initiates a life-changing conversion experience. It is a belief so pervasive and comprehensive that its evidence is borne out in one’s attitude, actions, priorities, and ambitions. Whether age 8 or 80, if there is no change, there has been no conversion.
“Is it nothing to all you who pass this way” (Lamentations 1:12)?
I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Our greatest problem is apathy…but who cares.” Sadly, if we do not guard against it, apathy and indifference can find its way into the life of God’s people. The apostle, John, would allude to this when he described the church at Laodicea as being neither “hot nor cold.” We can never make a difference with attitudes of indifference.
“Men of Israel, why are amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk” (Acts 3:12)?
Even in ancient days crowds could be gathered and people won over by skills of eloquence, the power of personality, or gifts of entertainment. The problem with such followings, however, is skills fade, personalities come and go, and crowds won over by novelty and entertainment will soon depart when the next new and greatest entertainer comes to town. Thus, Peter was quick to distance himself from any claims of credit for what the people had witnessed, and instead made clear that this was the God of their fathers working through his son Jesus Christ. Scripture commends the churches that are built not around a human personality, but rather, those that build upon the work of the Lord in redeeming broken lives.
“But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, ‘Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this…’” (Acts 3:12a).
Standing on the eastern side of the Temple’s outer court, and seeing the response to the healing of the lame beggar, Peter is amazed by the amazement of those who are supposed to be the people of God. It’s a reminder of how easily church attendance can become a religious routine of going through the motions with no real anticipation of God speaking and accomplishing something transformational. Only by anticipating is there any chance of receiving and experiencing something beyond the mundane.
“While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement” (Acts 3:11).
The healing of a lame beggar became a pronouncement to the people that God was doing something; that the Holy Spirit of the resurrected Christ had come upon his church, and transforming renewal was in their very midst. Two thousand years of her history have confirmed that where the church has been committed to effecting change, people will be attracted. When the Spirit builds a fire, the crowds will seek out the Source of the smoke.