So often we are “masters of our own destinies” … but are we? We plot our lives, our marriage, our family, our career, our home, our finances … our everything … but there is one thing we cannot plot and have mastery over. We might think we have but we don’t. I am referring to salvation. We think we do in the sense we try to make ourselves good … get baptized, confirmed, become a member of a Church, do some type of ministry … plus we stop drinking, smoking, swearing, using coarse language and we become morally better. God tells us in His Word:
Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
These three verses are so important.
(1) Too often we miss the central focus of this short passage. It is “grace”. Grace implies God at work. It is the gift of God. We cannot save ourselves. It is a work of God.
(2) By His Spirit He enables faith. We cannot even believe in God and His Gospel with Him … as it were … switching on ‘faith’ … enabling us to believe!
(3) Because salvation is all of God we cannot boast. We might boast about other achievements in life but we cannot boast about salvation because it is the work of God to bring the elect of God into His Kingdom through redeeming us through His blood shed at Calvary!
(4) Verse 10 sums up verses 8-9. We are God’s workmanship! He created us in Jesus to do His bidding … good works. The exciting thing is that these works were planned before creation like are election was! Everything to do will salvation is all of God. That is why the Gospel is perfect securing a perfect salvation! Now let’s return to Acts 3 …
1) The Gospel of Jesus was prophesied about through the prophets of the Old Testament.
Ac 3:24 “Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days.”
Although the Scriptures taught about the Messiah, what the Jews expected and what they got was radically different. As mentioned often, they wanted a military, political and economic savior. Jesus was a spiritual Savior! You might recall the Resurrected Jesus meeting up with two of His followers on the day of His Resurrection. As he walked with them on the Emmaus Road, Luke tells us:
Lk 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Jesus took the Law and Prophets and explained everything they taught about Him to them. We live in an era where many pastors and Church leaders seek to infuse excitement and use secular strategies and gimmicks to keep the people together and happy. Jesus’ strategy was and ours ought to be … to teach what the Bible says about Him. That ought to be the focus of the pulpit … nothing else!
2) It is easy to become complacent with the high position God places us into.
Ac 3:25 “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.’”
Being an heir of the prophets and the covenant refers to the Jews being the custodians of them being the choice of God and been given His promises. They as God’s people held the message of the true God and through them this message needed to reach the nations scattered around the world. In so many ways the Jews are to be found in just about every nation … but they were not God’s mouth piece to benefit the nations spiritually! You see, Peter draws from:
Ge 22:18 “and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Did you notice something is this verse? It says … “because you have obeyed me.” They did not. Although this was not Peter’s focus, we need to be extra cautious by not abusing our privileged position in Jesus. Obedience in this context implies being a blessing to the nations by evangelizing them. Jesus gave this as our marching orders in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8.
3) Salvation is by God alone.
Ac 3:26 “When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
This verse has a few components.
(1) The Lord Jesus is God the Son, but He, on His salvific mission was God the Father’s servant. Isaiah prophesied about the servanthood of Messiah, saying:
Isa 53:11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
(2) The Father resurrected Messiah from the dead.
(3) Jesus, the Father’s servant was sent to the Jews “first”. This was right because the Jews were His chosen people (to reach the world … which they did not). All the features of the temple, priesthood and sacrifices pointed to Messiah’s ministry and death at Calvary. Because Jesus fulfilled these things making them obsolete, He needed to come into that environment first.
(4) Jesus’ chief objective on His mission to earth was to turn the Jews from their wicked, rebellious ways. As said before, many were moved to true repentance and faith, but as a nation they refused His grace.
(5) To bless them by turning them from wickedness brings us to my starting illustration. Only God can save a soul. He musst turn the person from wickedness and unless He does, no one gets saved!
(6) How does God turn a person from their rebellious ways? Unknown to the person, the Holy Spirit starts working within a heart. His operation (work) is silent, unobserved … yet real … making the person unhappy in their sinful living and start to desire change. Then, in His time, He leads the person into an environment where they hear the Gospel message. Once heard and understood, the Spirit will use that Gospel information to subtly work in the conscience and mind.
This process could be instantaneous or it might take days, weeks, months or even years before the person realizes their urgent need to believe the Gospel, confess their sin, receive Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior and King and prove commitment through living a repentant lifestyle. All of this is God’s initiative and work preparing and guiding the soul from hearing to understanding to conviction to action. Salvation is all of God. Although the person’s work is responding to the nurturing of the Spirit, God saves.
My friend, has God worked salvation in your life? If not, pray earnestly that God will save your soul.
Dear Lord, thank You that salvation is wrought by You power in me. Amen.