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Acts Devotionals

Discernment

I’m sure you have heard the saying … “Ignorance is not an excuse.” Mainly this saying is used when it comes to the law … you might be ignorant of a certain law, but the law is there and stands. In the 1980’s a friend and I travelled from Welkom in the Free State to Johannesburg to attend a pastor’s seminar. Although he said he knew the directions, once lost on some national road, he said to me slow down … then, turn right where there was a gap between the center bushes and return the way we came on the other side of the national road. As I did this a traffic officer stopped me in the center section and wrote a rather hefty fine for breaking the law by turning like that on a hi-way. I honestly did not know there was a law against doing what I did, yet the law was there and the fine needed to be paid. Let’s pick up our reading again

Ac 3:17 “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’ 24 “Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

1) The conduct of the Jews in Jesus’ death was for want of knowledge and discernment.

Ac 3:17 “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.”

The word “ignorance” means lacking knowledge or discernment. Rightfully, they had the Scriptures … the Law, the Writings and the Prophets … but they did not discern its teaching about Messiah. Although everything about Messiah, His coming, ministry, death and resurrection … and at whose hands He would die was available and most likely taught … and they heard it … but they could not link the teaching to the reality that Messiah had come. We too need to exercise caution because we might hear Bible teaching over and over … especially the call of the Gospel and its requirements, yet not link it to our own spiritual condition and need.

2) Although Peter spoke to those present, he included their spiritual leaders. As we saw yesterday, the chief priests and other leaders of the Jewish nation, who ought to have known better, were equally guilty of Jesus’ death. There are theologians today who are like the Jewish leaders. They interpret the Scriptures in either a legalistic or liberal manner. In doing this they can lead their people astray and be the cause of leading their people to hell and damnation. This is why, irrespective who your spiritual leader is, you need to check what he teaches against what the Bible actually says. You cannot stand before God on Judgment Day and plead ignorance because you have the Bible at your disposal. For the sake of your soul, it is incumbent of you to be like the Bereans!

Ac 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

You cannot plead ignorance when you have the Scriptures available to you!

3) The Old Testament predicted the Gospel.

Ac 3:18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer.

Perhaps the best prophecy, because of its detail is from Isaiah!

(a) Messiah’s disfigurement.

Isa 52:14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.

(b) Unbelievable message.

Isa 53:1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 

(c) The Gospel Message.

Isa 53:2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 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. 6 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. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

(d) The will of God.

Isa 53:10 Yet it was the LORD’S will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering.

The plan of God was set in place in the Council of Heaven before creation and when the right time had arrived, it was fulfilled in God the Son, Jesus.

Ac 3:18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer.

I have used lots of Scripture today … but it links with Acts 3 … and Isaiah would have been what these people had been taught … and never understood. This is the reason they had no knowledge and discernment (were ignorant) about their coming Messiah … who came! Today we stand as a people without any excuse because we have the complete Word of God at our disposal for our use.

Father, help us to use discernment as we listen to and read Your Word to prevent error interpretation. Amen.

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