The Promises Kept in the Risen Christ

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Context: Paul and Barnabas have set out on their missionary journey. After making a few stops they arrive at Antioch of Pisidia. This is a different Antioch from the Antioch which was the early Christian church hub for international missions. This was a small town known on the Anthius River founded by a ruler named Anti-o-chus. We know this area as modern day Turkey. This city consisted of many varieties of cultures including Greeks, Romans, Phrygians and Jews. It was common for the Jews to be given religious freedom and a synagogue was built and many were introduced to the God of the Jews including Gentiles.
In the midst of this city, Paul and Barnabas arrive and go straight to the synagogue to do what they purposed to do: share the gospel. Upon arriving, they witnessed the typical Jewish worship service- the reading of the Law and Prophets, reciting the Shema(Deut. 6:4-9), a prayer, and a sermon from any visiting guests. Paul takes advantage of the invitation to speak the Truth of the Gospel.
Purpose: Paul’s sermon in Acts 13 is a primer on what we call today biblical theology. What I mean is that Paul does a masterful job of revealing the sovereign plan of God’s redemption woven through the story of Israel in the Old Testament and arriving at its fulfillment with Jesus coming into the world.
As I traveled this past month to India, to teach my brothers the OT, it was our upmost priority to declare the story of redemption that was being carried out through every book of the OT, culminating in the incarnation, ministry, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Messiah.
The well known pastor and author Mark Dever sums up this biblical plan of God’s redemption through the OT and NT books of the bible by labeling the OT books: PROMISES MADE and the NT books: PROMISES KEPT. This is Paul’s purpose as well in Antioch as he preaches to those in attendance at the synagogue. He wants us all to see that Jesus Christ is the Risen Messiah who fulfills all that was promised regarding the redemption of God’s people.

1. The Proclamation of the Promised Redeemer

Promises Made
Paul actually begins his sermon to these in Antioch in 16
Acts 13:16 NASB95
16 Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:
Notice that is audience consisted of more than Jews but also those who were in attendance, also God-fearing Gentiles. In v17-22, Paul summaries the story of God’s blessing on the people of Israel through a few major events in their lives. He wants them to acknowledge all that God had done for them and how it leads to his fulfilling his promises to them to provide a Redeemer who was to come.
Acts 13:23 NASB95
23 “From the descendants of this man, according to promise, God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus,
Highlight the phrase “according to the promise” because Paul will say this phrase a few times for emphasis. Look with me in v 32-33
Acts 13:32–33 NASB95
32 “And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, 33 that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today i have begotten You.’
Paul calls it the good news of the promise. That is the good news that Israel has been promised a Savior and that promise is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Look back with me at some of the ways the promises were fulfilled in the work of Christ on the cross.
Genesis 3:15 NASB95
15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
Genesis 12:3 NASB95
3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
Genesis 17:7 NASB95
7 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
Psalm 89:29 NASB95
29 “So I will establish his descendants forever And his throne as the days of heaven.
So these promises are just a few of the ones that look forward to an ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ. This is the point that Paul is wanting the people in Antioch to see that day. These Jews were being called to believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah to come and therefore they must put their trust in Him.
Promises Kept
In verses 28-31, Paul describes for them the events that were foretold and fulfilled in Christ’s death and resurrection. He highlights four key events that summarize the foundational truths of the gospel. When considering the gospel that you must share with the world, it would be important that you include such truths in your belief and in your witness to others.
The Sinless Christ-(29)”they found no reason“
this shows that Jesus did not deserve the execution that he faced because He had committed no crime. This points to the greater truth that Jesus was not only innocent in breaking Roman laws that would lead to crucifixion, but he was sinless in every way. The pure and spotless lamb that was needed to be offered as a sacrifice for sin. The sinlessness of Christ looks back to the sacrificial system that required a spotless lamb to be sacrificed on the Day of Atonement on behalf of the people. In God’s providence, it was this 14th day of Nisan, that good Friday that Jesus was sacrificed upon the cross.
The Death of Christ - (29)“putting him to death…asked Pilate to execute him...they carried out all that was written of Him”
Jesus did die. He did not faint as some suggested only to be revived in the tomb. Medical experts who have studied the science of the crucifixion testify that the method of killing upon the cross never left anyone alive. If a person did not die of asphyxiation then they shoulders would break your legs until you did lack the oxygen to breathe and you would die. Dying was the plan of Christ from the beginning so that he would be the sacrifice needed to bring about salvation for his people. Jesus told his disciples:
John 10:17–18 (NASB95)17 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
But remember that it was the plan of Father to crush the Son as the prophet Isaiah tells us. The death of Christ proves that God accepted the sacrifice for sin as he poured the wrath of sin upon his Son.
Isaiah 53:10 (NASB95)10 But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
Acts 2:23 (NASB95)23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
The Burial of Christ they laid him in the tomb”
Fulfilling another promise of the Messiah who would suffer and die, Jesus’ burial did not reflect his death. A criminal would not ever be buried in the way that Jesus was buried because the Jews looked at those crucified as cursed by God. But Jesus was buried in the tomb of a rich man, which Isaiah prophesied as well
Isaiah 53:9 (NASB95)9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
We know that Jesus was in the grave for three days when you consider days counted by the Jews. Friday night, Saturday and Sunday morning would have accounted for 3 days. 3 days is significant because it debunks any notion that Jesus never died. Three days in the sealed tomb guarded by Roman soldiers ensured that nothing over than death could be established in history.
The Resurrection of Christ (30) “But God raised him from the dead”
Jesus came out of the tomb raised in a new glorified body. This body would be one that as Paul teaches in his letters to the churches, a body fit for eternity. In his resurrected state, he proved that death would not hold the Lord over all for Jesus is the victor over sin and death. His resurrection provides the type of glorified body that all believers will also bear in eternity.
The Witnesses of the Risen Christ (31) and he appeared to those…who are now witnesses to the people
As a redemption apologist, Paul is laying out these 5 events in the work of Redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ that are worthy of our unhindered belief as the audience of Paul’s day and as the world throughout history.

2. The Proof of the Promises Kept

Paul secondly moves to the proof of these claims for his audience. The argument Paul makes in this synagogue is the same argument I have just made with those 5 events. All of them were foretold by the prophets and that fulfillment is the proof one needs to believe. Paul uses 3 OT passages that should solidify believe in these at the synagogue. All of these psalms point to Jesus as the promised Messiah
the first psalm is quoted is Psalm 2. This is the enthronement psalm and it speaks of the promise of the Lord’s Anointed who would come and rule over the nations.
Psalm 2:6–9 (NASB95)6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” 7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’ ”
Paul uses this Psalm to point to Jesus being the promised anointed one who will rule over all kings of the earth. he would be from the davidic line and he would be given the world as his inheritance as a Son to His Father. This is a beautiful trinitarian picture of the love of the Father and Son and the rule that Father extends the Son. Jesus affirms himself as this Son to the Father as He prays in John 17 and as he declares in Matthew 28 that “all authority on heaven and earth had been given to me.”
The second OT passage he quotes is Isaiah 55:3 which is a reference to the covenant and its blessings that the Lord made with David. Paul understanding that Jesus fulfills the David line now uses that prophecy in relationship to the resurrection. He quotes that “the sure and holy blessings of David will be given to God’s people.” What he is referencing is the effect or blessings of the resurrection on all who follow Christ. Because of Christ’s defeat of sin and death and new resurrected life, we can enjoy the sure and holy blessings of a resurrected life as well. Paul makes this connection because the promises of new life in Christ is necessary for those who follow after him. The jews and the church must see the change that comes about when a person puts their faith in the resurrected Christ. The holy blessings of the risen savior will be discussed in our concluding point today.
The third OT passage is another psalm, Psalm 16. While the promises of Ps 16 are intially fulfilled in David, we understand that one particular verse looks past David to the David throne and the One who will sit upon it for eternity. Paul sees this and quotes 16:10 which shows the True David King will die but not see corruption or decay of the body. This means, as Paul points out, that David could not fulfill this prophecy but only one who died and yet his body didn't decay. This would f course the Lord of Glory. He of course is the “holy one” in all respects because He was without sin and therefore, Paul makes use of this last point of the resurrection to prove from the OT that Jesus is the risen Messiah.
These 3 passages were meant to give greater proof that the Bible is true and that Jesus truly is the promised Messiah. When looking at all the prophesies of Jesus, it only solifies our belief in the Bible. To deny the truthfulness of the Bible based in fuflfilled prophecies is to ignore logic and reason.
"Imagine that you had the ability to predict the future and you predicted to an expectant mother eight things about her unborn baby: its sex, date of birth, name, weight at birth, college, occupation, manner of death, and age at death. The chances of all eight of your predictions being fulfilled is 1 in 10 to the 17th power—10 with17 zeros!"
Someone suggested a way to illustrate the chances of all eight predictions being fulfilled as follows: Cover the state of Texas two feet deep with silver dollars. Mark an X on one of the silver dollars, and stir them all up. Blindfold a person and send him across the state as far as he wishes to go. Instruct him to pick up one of the silver dollars. The chances of his getting the coin marked X would be 1 in 10 to the 17th power.
This is the power of prophecy in our defending the truth that Jesus was the true expected Messiah of OT history and these fulfilled prophecies help us prove in today’s world that the Bible is true and without error. Jesus didn't just fulfill 8 prophesies to give us confidence, he fulfilled over 300 of them.

3. The Practical Blessings of Redemption For His People

Finally Paul concludes with two applications to the work of Christ that are a result of his death and resurrection. These are the practical blessings that we spoke of earlier. These holy blessings are fruit of belief in the Lord Jesus.
Acts 13:38–39 NASB95
38 “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
Jesus displayed his deity during his earthly ministry when we looked at a contrite woman and granted her forgiveness for her sin. Only God forgives sin and therefore, Jesus displayed his power to do what only God does.
Those who were in the presence of Jesus when he fogave the sins of that woman, even questioned, “who is this man that even forgives sins?” This man is Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, the promised Messiah who gave his life to remove the guilt and stain of sin.
The Lord speaks through Isaiah,
Isaiah 43:25 NASB95
25 “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.
Isaiah 1:18 NASB95
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.
We receive the blessing of forgiveness of sins not because God chooses to ignore
The cleansing that we experience is an finalized and completed work that Jesus accomplished. Forgiveness is an act in the past with present and continuous results. Therefore you don[t ask for forgiveness in order to activate the forgiveness of Christ. You confess your sin and rest in the accomplished forgiveness that Jesus bled, died, and rose again to accomplish.
2. Justification:
Forgiveness is directly connected to our justification because only those justified in Christ can be forgiven. Bruce Demarest gives a healthy definition of justification:
The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation C. The Language and Meaning of Justification

justification as God’s gracious, legal verdict in respect of those who believe in Christ, forgiving their sins and declaring them righteous through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness

Justification in Christ takes the legal demands of our inherited and active sin and places it upon Christ to bear upon himself so that we are legally declared innocent in the sight of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB95
21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Notice the emphasis on these two blessings as those that occur through Him. This means that Jesus and Jesus alone are the means for our receiving these blessings. The reformers had five declarations of the Reformation that were declared, one being Solus Chistus, Christ alone. It is THROUGH Christ alone that we receive such blessings of salvation. It is not in any other means can we attain the gift of grace from God. He alone is our source.
We must respond to these truths, that have been confirmed by OT fulfillment, by receiving Christ in faith. We cannot just know about Jesus but we must surrender to Him by faith. Paul states,
Paul states to the Ephesian elders this response to the work of Christ.
Acts 20:20–21 NASB95
20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
You must repent and believe.
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