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3 Ways God the Father Testified that Jesus is the Lord & Christ

Jesus is real. Jesus is risen. Jesus is returning soon.

Acts 2 marks the birth of the church on Pentecost, a significant Jewish feast occurring 50 days after Passover. Amidst rumors of Jesus' stolen body after the Passover, pilgrims returned to Jerusalem. Suddenly, 120 disciples, speaking in diverse tongues, gathered, drawing attention from the crowd who mistook their enthusiasm for drunkenness.

Peter, known for his boldness, addressed the crowd, emphasizing Christianity as a faith of second chances. His sermon, recorded in Acts 2:14-36, asserts Jesus' resurrection and lordship, despite the crowd's prior rejection during Passover. Peter's courage in preaching to such a hostile audience serves as an inspiration for modern-day believers.

In today's increasingly skeptical culture, Peter's message resonates, challenging us to boldly proclaim our faith. The enduring relevance of Peter's sermon lies in its timeless reminder of God's transformative power and the need for unwavering conviction in the face of opposition.

Today: "3 Ways God the Father Testified that Jesus is the Lord & Christ"

# 1 - God Confirmed Jesus (Acts 2:22)

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—

"Men of Israel, hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth."

Pause right there for a moment. That's the crux of Peter's sermon on Pentecost—it's all about Jesus of Nazareth. And let me tell you, the church today could use more preaching about biblical Jesus.

I once heard a story a little boy was dragged by his Sunday school teacher to his father, who said, "Reprimand your son; he's disrupting the class." In the class, I asked the students, "What's small and furry and collects nuts and takes them up into the tree to store them up for the winter?" And your son is being a smart aleck in the class. He raised his hand and answered, "Jesus." That father dragged that boy to the car and said, "You've embarrassed me at this church. Just wait till I get you home." But as the father was dragging him through the parking lot, the boy looked up and said, "Dad, I knew he was talking about a squirrel, but he should have been talking about Jesus."

You can easily feel that way in so much contemporary preaching. We have so much to talk about, and the most important part of the message is lost. Jesus is the most important figure of history, and the cross of Jesus is the most important factor of history. May God help us do as Paul says in Colossians 1:28, "Preach him." This is what Peter preaches about here on the day of Pentecost, Jesus of Nazareth.

Peter, addressing the crowd, emphasizes Jesus' uniqueness. Jesus of Nazareth wasn't merely a teacher or miracle worker; he was attested, approved, and accredited by God through mighty works, wonders, and signs. These miracles weren't just displays of power; they pointed to his divine identity as the God-man.

Peter's bold truth-claim challenges the prevailing views of Jesus as merely a good teacher or prophet. His miracles weren't random displays of power but deliberate signs affirming his true nature. Yet, some still struggle to accept Jesus as the Son of God, much like those in Peter's audience.

The miracles of Jesus aren't just feats of wonder; they're confirmations of his divine identity. They attest to the truthfulness of his message and indirectly point to his deity. So when Peter declares, "Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God," he's not just recounting history; he's inviting his audience—and us—to recognize Jesus for who he truly is--truly God and truly man!

In Peter's mind here, he's not saying anything controversial. At this point, he is making common ground with this hostile crowd. He is saying to them, "You know, I don't have to argue this point; you know what God did through Jesus."

This is interesting because there are so-called scholars who, under the banner of Christianity, make it their job to find the "historical Jesus." But what they are only trying to do is reconstruct a non-miraculous Jesus, a non-supernatural Jesus, a non-divine Jesus.

But even the most hostile unbelievers, Peter says to them, "Here, you yourselves know that God was at work through the life of Jesus, through mighty works and wonders and signs."

No one denies what Jesus did. Yes, there were some who questioned the source of his miracles. They claimed that he was of the devil (John 8). This is why he had the powers that he had.

But for the most part, Peter says to the crowd, "You know that God attested to the life of Jesus through mighty works and wonders and signs. Hold on to that and consider this." Peter says, "You already know this, and yet they did not believe."

This is the tension of the text in a real sense because they saw the miracles of Jesus. They never questioned the miracles of Jesus. They even viewed them as God working through Jesus, but this was not enough for them to believe that he is Christ and Lord.

I think about this and remind myself that you cannot win people to Christ by putting on a show on Sunday morning. It is not the show! It's not even his miracles that make people believe.

Luke 16:19-31 is the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Growing up, I learned this story as a story about heaven and hell, or a story about the rich and the poor. But the more time I've spent with it, the more I've concluded it's really not about those things. It's really a parable about the sufficiency of scripture. That's the climax of the parable.

The rich man goes to hell and still thinks he's in charge. And he's trying to order that Lazarus be sent down to do this and do that. Do you remember what the answer is given to him in Luke 16:29, when he requests that Lazarus be sent to his brothers to warn them of the doom to come if they don't repent?

"They have Moses and the prophets. Let them hear them. Let them turn to the scriptures."

"Oh, no," but if someone rises from the dead, then they will really believe. Luke 16: 31 says, "If they won't hear Moses and the prophets, they won't believe even if one rises from the dead."

Oh, may we hear this! May God so work in us with a renewed confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture.

One of my pulpit heroes is the late James Montgomery Boyce who pastored the 10th Presbyterian Church downtown Philadelphia. He led the 10-year work of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy that finished his work in 1988. But in the 1994 edition of his book, "Standing on the Rock," he predicted that the battle for the Bible would continue into the next generation. But he said it would take on a different form. He said the battle had been over the inspiration of Scripture, but in the days to come, the battle will be over the sufficiency of Scripture.

I fear that this ominous warning has come to pass in our generation. Where there are so many in the church who would affirm the scriptures and then turn to everything but the Word of God to reach the lost, to build up the saints, to govern the church, to reform society, and to counsel the troubled.

But may we hear the word of the Lord Jesus, that if we don't turn to the scriptures, people will not change, even if someone rises from the dead. And be reminded of the importance of the sufficiency of God's word. 

#2 - God orchestrated Jesus' death (Acts 2:23)

"this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men."

So feel the tension here. This hostile crowd would have affirmed that Jesus did miraculous works, but they did not believe that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah King. That had nothing to do with his miracles. In fact, it was the performance of miracles that initially caused them to believe in Jesus. But the more they watched him, followed him. And, also, the more they concluded that this could not be the Messiah because he didn't fit their notions of what the Messiah would be and do.

They really weren't looking for a Savior, a Redeemer, or a Substitute. Really they wanted a military hero that would overthrow the occupying powers of Rome and establish Jerusalem as its headquarters and restore Israel to greatness. And when they met Jesus and saw his miraculous powers, they concluded that Jesus could be the one who is able to do this.

But the more they followed him, it just was apparent this wasn't even on his agenda. They also guessed that his own enemies would probably kill him long before he ever able to accomplish revolution. Jesus had miraculous powers but he didn't use his power to do the right stuff. And, apparently, he must have rubn out of power because one of his own disciples betrayed him. They arrested him, they condemned him, and he died the death of a criminal by death on the cross.

1 Cor. 1:23: "The preaching of Christ crucified is a stumbling block to the Jews."

How could this man be the long-awaited Messiah-king when he died on the cross like a common criminal?

In Acts 2:23, Peter addresses this concern:

"This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you have crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men."

If verse 22 is true—that God was working through Jesus through mighty works, wonders, and signs—how in the world were they able to take him, arrest him, and nail him to a cross? Peter says, "God delivered him up."

Really, verse 23 may be the best answer to the question, "Who killed Jesus?" Historians debate this question. Some conclude that Jesus was murdered for being a religious nonconformist who blasphemed God by his teachings and works. Others conclude that Jesus died because he was a political nuisance to the Romans who saw him as an insurgent in occupied Palestine.

But do you see here that Peter looks beyond the human elements and factors involved in the death of Jesus and he declares that this Jesus was "delivered up by the definite plan and foreknowledge of God"? "You," he says, "have crucified and killed him by the hands of lawless men."

There are two parallel truths in the scriptures that run alongside each other. If you try to get them to intersect, there'll be a bad collision. However, if you just follow them and let them go their own course, they'll lead you to glory.

These parallel truths in scripture are: divine sovereignty and human free will.

God is a God of exhaustive sovereignty; he controls everything. And, yet, he has made us free moral agents who choose between right and wrong, good and evil.

And, so often, we're debating one against the other. But, in a beautiful way here, Peter describes how both elements were at work in the death of Jesus. In verse 23, he says that the death of Jesus was both at the same time. Without feeling that he's contradicting himself, he says the death of Jesus was both a sovereign act of God and a sinful act of man.

The death of Jesus was a sovereign act of God. If God was doing mighty works, wonders, and signs through Jesus (Acts 2:22), how can mere humans take this Jesus and nail him to a cross? Peter says, "God delivered him up. You didn't take Jesus; God handed them over to you."

Remember what Jesus said to Pilate? "Go on and do what you're gonna do, but be careful, you know. Be clear about what's going on here. No one is taking my life. I just lay it down. And the proof that I'm laying it down is that when I get ready, I'll pick it up again."

God delivered him up.

And, even more beautifully, Peter says God did not deliver him up merely as a response or reaction to anything. It is not that the fall in the garden happened and God had to figure out a plan B to fix things. He says he was delivered up by the "definite plan and foreknowledge of God."

Jesus died by God's eternal decree. God was behind it all--and it was a part of his eternal plan of redemption. Peter is saying the death of Jesus was a sovereign act of God.

But will you note that at the same time, he doesn't let the crowd off the hook. "This Jesus," he says, "delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified. You killed by the hands of lawless men."

Well, this ends the debate for me. Who killed Jesus? The Jews or the Romans here?

Peter says both are culpable. "You Jews crucified and killed Jesus by the lawless hands of the Romans."

He is saying the Jews are guilty--and the Romans are guilty!

Do you get what he's saying? All are guilty because it's not about who killed Jesus--but what put him on the cross? And the issue that caused the death of Jesus is sin. And if it is sin, we are all guilty because we are all sinners. God demands perfect righteousness.

This is why none of us are qualified to save ourselves. Our good intentions, our good efforts, and our good works can never win God's approval. God demands perfect righteousness. And we are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God. That's the bad news.

Here's the good news: God gave what he demanded. In Jesus Christ, God paid for the sins of those who are rebels against him. He used a sinful act to provide the way of salvation for sinners. He was delivered up by the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. You crucified him and killed him by the hands of lawless men, but it really wasn't you. God was behind it all.

There's a story about a little boy who was fidgeting in the waiting room of the doctor's office. And his mom is frustrated as eyes are on them. She just hands him anything off of the coffee table to quiet him down. It's a picture book of religious art. He's scanning through it until he gets to a picture of Jesus hanging on the cross. And he begins to weep. Then his mother asks him what's wrong. He says through tears that if God would have been there, he would have never allowed them to do that to Jesus.

But what the little boy doesn't understand is that God was there. And, thank God, he was there and he was behind it all. He didn't just allow it to happen; it was his plan.

2 Corinthians 5:21 "God made him to be sin for us who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God in him."

We must preach this great exchange. God sent his Son into the world to die for sinners. But oh, praise God, that's not the end of the story!

#3 - God resurrected Jesus (Acts 2:24)

"God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it"

In 1 Corinthians, chapter 15:3-4, Paul says, "I deliver to you what I received of first importance, that Christ died for our sins in accordance to the scriptures and that he was buried and that he was raised from the dead in accordance to the scripture."

This is the good news. This is the truth. This is the foundation upon which we stand. The Savior lived. The Savior died! The Savior rolls again. And he's alive and well today!

C.S. Lewis said it well: "Anybody can become sentimental at the nativity. Any fool can feel like a Christian at Christmas, but Easter is the main event."

That is, if you don't believe in the resurrection of Jesus, you are not a believer. And this is where Peter ends this section of his sermon where he has called God to the stand to testify about the truth of Jesus Christ.

Verse 24 says, "God raised him up."

The truth of the resurrection of Jesus is stated at times, maybe in the gospels, by saying, "he rose." But the significance of the resurrection throughout the epistles--and even here in Acts--is stated by saying, not that he rose, but that "God raised him up."

That's the common language for the resurrection: He didn't just get up...God raised him up. God was at work in his life, God was at work in his death, and God was at work in his resurrection. God raised Jesus from the dead.

The crucifixion of Jesus is inextricably tied to the resurrection of Jesus. How do we know that what happened on Good Friday was actually good? It is because when Jesus died, God did not let him stay dead. The resurrection of Jesus was God's stamp of approval on the crucifixion of Jesus.

On the cross, Jesus declared, "it is finished" (John 19:30). And the resurrection, as it were, was God's receipt to declare to the world that he has received payment in full. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death. P-A-N-G-S. You may have a version that says, in your lap says "pains," but it's literally "pangs." It's a kind of pain. The pain of childbirth. God loosed the birth pangs. Death in the resurrection of Jesus.

When Adam and Eve sinned, it brought sin and death into the whole world, but it was never God's intention for death to have the last word. And in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, death does not have the last word. Yet, death is just the birth canal through which believers receive eternal life. Death died when Jesus rose from the dead. God loosed the pangs of death. Why? Because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

The unbeliever looks at the circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus and says, "It's not possible that Jesus rose from the dead. He was half dead by the time they put him on the cross. By the time they came to hasten his death, they found him already dead. They took him off the cross and they put him in Joseph's tomb. And just for good measure, they put a stone over the tomb that it would take at least 10 men to move, and then they sealed the stone, making it a capital crime to move that stone, if you could. And then just for good measure, they placed guards around the tomb so that the disciples won't even have an opportunity. to steal the remains."

You look at all of this and you say, as an unbeliever, "It is not possible."

Yet, Peter says in verse 24 that "God raised him up." God loosed the pains of death because it was not possible for death to hold him. Oppositely, the church declares it was impossible for death to keep him down. God raised him from the dead!

Yes, God sent angels to roll the stone away. Then God started showing off, didn't he? Instead of going back to glory, the angel just sat on the stone, waiting for someone to show up so that he could ask, "Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here. But he rose as he, just as he said he would."

Remember: The Son of God became flesh. The Eternal One entered time. The righteous one became sin for us. The Holy One took our place. The crucified one rolls again. The risen one is seated at the right hand of the Father, and the seated one is coming back again.

So, as the culture around us grows more hostile to the truth--and as so many in the church compromise their convictions to keep up with the times--may God help us to have the courage of our convictions to stand in the power of the Holy Spirit with confidence in the gospel declared to this lost world.

He is risen ... risen, indeed!