September 14, 2015
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
Through this Man is preached unto you
the forgiveness of sins and by Him all that believe
are justified from all things …
Acts 13:38, 39
What a memorable day it was in the Synagogue at Antioch. Paul stood up and stood forth to preach. He recounted the names of many of the worthies of the nation: He spoke of the fathers which would have included Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. By inference he invoked the memory of Moses, the great deliverer (v 17, 18). He spoke of the Judges and of Samuel. He brought them to the dawn of the Kingdom and Saul. He reached the high point of his history when he arrived at David, the man after God’s own heart.
Abraham was a great man; Moses was likely the greatest leader the world has ever seen; no warrior king ever surpassed David. The nation could rightly be proud of its heroes from the past. But none of these men, despite their greatness and accomplishments, none could bring in the blessing God longed to give His people and the nations. But all these names and memories, all the history of the nation – all was to prepare for the climax to which Paul wanted to bring them. “Of this man’s seed (David), hath God … raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus” (v 23).
Here then is a Man Who is in contrast to every other man. He was able to do what none of the fathers could ever accomplish. He was able to bring in a righteousness that Moses could not. He will establish a kingdom in perpetuity far greater and unblemished than David. It is through “this Man,” and this man alone, that there can be:
The Forgiveness of Sins – the complete removal of sin’s penalty. What an announcement! Sins forgiven and removed before the eye of a holy God. This offer had never echoed through the cold synagogue walls before. No one had ever stood up and told of this possibility.
Fitness for Heaven – “By Him all that believe are justified.” That there was an announcement that guilty man could be made right before God; that fitness and a righteous standing could be conferred on any who would accept this Savior. But there is even more.
Freedom – for our sins we needed forgiveness; for our guilt we need to be justified. But for our enslavement, we needed forgiveness. In Christ, God provided a salvation so complete that every need has been met. Not only are we free from the penalty of our sin, but free from the power of our sin and all that we are in Adam.
1. Go over Paul’s sermon and notice the points he makes on the way to his great declaration of the forgiveness available (vv 25-37).
2. Notice how often Paul refers to “fulfillment” and “promise” in his preaching.
3. This is the first mention of justification in the preaching in the Acts. Do you think Paul had a greater appreciation or understanding of this than Peter?