Monday, July 29, 2013

Peter - A Ministry of grace

Acts 3:16 And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.

Introduction In a post on July 10 we had looked at "Peter - a testimony of grace". Then on July 16 we picked up another episode in Peter's life in the healing of the lame man in Acts 3:1-10, identifying that miracle as illustrating the miraculous nature of grace.  We saw how God used the Apostle Peter in that miracle, and made some observations concerning how grace is truly miraculous.  Peter's testimony of grace started our periodic study of his life.  Having already investigated the miracle of grace in Acts 3:1-10, we see it explained by Peter in a sermon in Acts 3:11-19.  That sermon highlights what we are calling in today's post: Peter - a ministry of grace.  In today's post I want us to consider what is entailed in a ministry of grace from Peter's second sermon in Acts 3:11-19.

1. Grace of the Savior.  Acts 3:11-18, 20-21
Acts 3:16, quoted at the beginning of this post, demonstrates Peter's constant efforts to point all glory to Jesus Christ.  The ministry of grace will always point beyond itself to Jesus Christ, since He is grace personified as well as its source. (John 1:14; Titus 2:11)

2. Grace of the Scriptures. Acts 3:18, 21-26
Peter did not explain the miracle by his opinion or experience.  Rather Peter appealed to the scriptures.  Scripture was divinely revealed by God to men.  Peter appeals to material from Genesis in Acts 3:13 and 3:25 and the accounts of Jesus' life that would eventually make their way into the Gospel accounts.  The four Gospels had not yet been composed at the time of Peter's sermon. Peter's recounting of Jesus' life proves that the Gospel's are reliable records of what really happened, since Peter's sermon occurred less than a year from when Jesus ascended into heaven.  Peter also makes passing reference to the prophets of the Old Testament and Moses' statements from Deuteronomy 18:15,18 in Acts 3:22. Whenever a ministry is appealing to scripture, it is recognizing that it in and of itself, human creativity is insufficient when it comes to dealing with people's souls.  

3. Grace of the Spirit. Acts 3:19
A ministry of grace will rely upon the Savior, the source of grace and the scriptures, God's verbal expression of grace.  Acts 3:19 demonstrates a third grace in a ministry of grace - the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit Himself is the Agent of the times of refreshing spoken of in Acts 3:19, as seen in an earlier passage, Acts 2:38 - "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."  Other scriptures speak of the Person of the Holy Spirit bringing forth the refreshing ministry of grace in this current New Covenant era in which we live. (Ezekiel 36:26-27; Hebrews 9:14) 

4. Grace of salvation. Acts 3:19-26; 4:4
A ministry of grace is characterized by the grace of the Savior, scripture, the Spirit and fourthly, salvation.  Salvation is grounded in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  That's the Person of grace.  Salvation occurs only in connection with the scriptures, the power of grace.  Salvation can only be brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit, the Agent of grace. Thus whenever these people heard Peter's sermon, what were the results? Consider Acts 4:4 "But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand."

May you and I dear believer be about doing the ministry of grace to which the Lord has called us.  

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