Acts 13:38-41 – Forgiveness, Freedom & Unbelief
Diving Deeper Lesson Outline for Acts 13:38-41
This is lesson 3 of 3 on Paul’s sermon in Acts 13.
Part 1 was the “Jesus Was” of Paul’s sermon.
Part 2 was the “Jesus Is”.
Part 3 is the “Jesus Can Be.”
Paul’s sermon in Acts 13 is remarkable in many ways.
Strikingly, it is a Gospel message rooted in the OT!
The Gospel does not start in Matthew it starts in Genesis.
In Part 3, Paul closes his sermon by stating that freedom and forgiveness are found in Jesus and not in the law.
He states in Acts 13:38-39 that “through this man” “everyone who believes” has forgiveness of sins and freedom.
He then gives a warning about unbelief.
1) PAUL PREACHES THE WORD – FORGIVENESS
Point 1 is drawn from Acts 13:38.
OT teaching on sin & forgiveness:
Range of Sin:
– In 1 Kings 8:46, Solomon tells us “there is no one who does not sin.”
Thoroughness of Sin:
– Job 25:4 asks how a man can be right before God and how can a man born of the flesh be pure (child of promise/flesh).
The heart is ground zero for Sin:
– In 1 Samuel 16:7, we see that “the Lord looks at the heart”.
– In Psalm 95:10 God frames the sin problem has a heart problem, “people who go astray in their heart.”
– Isaiah 44:20 speaks of a “deluded heart.”
– Jeremiah 7:24 speaks of “the stubbornness of their evil hearts.”
– Ezekiel 20:16 speaks of a disobedience that is rooted in a heart that strays.
The heart can be victorious over Sin:
– Proverbs 4:23 shows that from the heart flows “the springs of life.”
– Moses tells us in Deuteronomy 10:16 that the heart requires a circumcision.
God provides the victory over Sin:
– Psalm 79:9 cries out to God for atonement and salvation.
– And in Psalm 85:2 we see that God does forgive and cover sin.
– Isaiah 6:6-7 illustrates, again, that God forgives and atones.
– Isaiah 43:25 reveals that not only does God cover the sin but He does it for his sake!
So how did God provide atonement and salvation to OT Jews?
Symbolic Blood Sacrifice:
– Leviticus 1-6 details the five major offerings to be made for sin (sins committed unknowingly).
– They all* involve the shedding of blood, but see Hebrews 10:11 about ineffectiveness of this blood to atone for sin.
– And all are to be done at each instance of sin – it is never one and done!
Repentance & Obedience:
– Leviticus 5:5 addresses the confessing in relation to the sin offering.
– Ezek 33:14-15 says repent and will be forgiven.
– Isaiah 6:10 says “turn and be healed.”
– Jeremiah 18:8 tells Israel to “turn from its evil.”
POI* – In Leviticus 5, one’s economic position determined the animal to be sacrificed and for the poor, fine flour was acceptable.
In the words of John MacArthur, “This exception is clear proof that the old cleansing was symbolic. Just as the animal blood symbolized Christ’s true atoning blood, so the ephah of flour symbolized and represented the animal blood. This nonblood offering for sin was acceptable because the old sacrifice was entirely symbolic anyway.”
Summary of Point 1:
The OT teaches that sin prevents us from being right before God.
It teaches that no one born of the flesh can be acceptable to God.
It teaches that the problem of sin resides in the heart.
And naturally, therefore, the heart requires fixing or “circumcising”.
We see that Jews of the OT were aware of sin, the separation it caused and that a remedy was necessary.
We learn that Jews of the OT understood God to be the source of the solution, not man.
We discover that the covering or atonement for sin involved repentance, a symbolic blood sacrifice and obedience.
It is faith in God that is the foundation of all of the above – see Hebrews 11.
The Bottom Line – The OT theology of salvation is the NT theology of salvation.
It is no clearer than in Habakkuk 2:4, “the righteous shall live by faith”.
2) PAUL PREACHES THE WORD – FREEDOM
Point 2 is drawn from Acts 13:39.
What is the Law:
The Law (nomos) generally refers to the first five books of the Bible written by Moses (Torah or Pentateuch) – Matthew 11:13; Luke 24:44; John 1:45; Acts 28:23.
The most well known part of the Law is, of course, The 10 Commandments.
The Law and Freedom:
In Galatians 5:3-4, Paul says if you embrace freedom under the law, you are obligated to keep the whole law – to be perfect.
The problem with this is that Hebrews 7:19 says the law makes nothing perfect.
As a matter of fact, disobedience of the Law is death; Proverbs 19:16 (NASB) says, “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of conduct will die.”
Galatians 3:10-12 echoes this in that it says that no one is justified before God by the law.
And without justification, you face God’s judgment and wrath.
This is what Paul means when he says “from which you could not be freed from the Law of Moses”.
Paul is telling us that using the Law/works as a means of salvation brings death not freedom.
POI – For Christians who fall into a “works” view, there’s a tendency to pass judgment as detailed by Jesus in Matt 7:1-6.
There is a temptation to pharisaically believe we know the heart of another based on our own check list.
Please be aware, however, that there is a type of judgment we are called on to make such as in Matthew 18:15; 1 Corinthians 5:11; Hebrews 5:14; Romans 16:17-18; 2 John 10-11; etc.
The world would have us believe that even this type of judgment is hypocritical.
So of what use is the Law?
Proverbs 6:23 says it is a lamp and a light.
What are lamps and lights used for? The Law illuminates our sin and depraved state.
Galatians 3:24 says it is a tutor or schoolmaster.
What does a teacher do? The Law teaches us about our sin and subsequent need for a Savior.
And, interestingly, once saved, Paul tells us in Romans 7:6 that believers are released from the law.
And that now, in Romans 7:14, the Law is Spiritual.
It is written on our hearts – This is fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:31 prophecy!
For this reason, Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:8-11, that the Law was made for the unrighteous.
Summary of Point 2:
The law is not a ladder to climb to salvation; it is a mirror to show us our depravity.
The law is a gift of mercy and grace from God that we may see us how he sees us…lost sinners.
Paul’s point is that there never was, nor is, nor ever will be freedom under the law.
To be under the Law is to live under the curse of the flesh.
To be under Faith in Jesus is to be born again and live in the Spirit.
Paul is preaching that Jesus death, burial and resurrection atone for sin; nothing else does.
He is preaching that relying on the Law/works is killing you and Jesus Christ will save you – that is FREEDOM.
POI – Philippians 3:8-9 explains righteousness comes through faith in JC not the law.
POI – Read Romans 7 for an awesome treatise on the Law.
3) PAUL PREACHES THE WORD – UNBELIEF
Point 3 is drawn from Acts 13:40-41.
In these verses, Paul is alluding to Habakkuk 1:5.
“The Israelite unbelievers would not credit the prophecy as to the fearfulness of the destruction to be wrought by the Chaldeans, nor afterwards the deliverance promised from that nation. So analogously, in Paul’s day, the Jews would not credit the judgment coming on them by the Romans, nor the salvation proclaimed through Jesus. Thus the same Scripture applied to both.” – Jamieson R. Fausset
Paul is saying that the rejection of Christ that sent Him to the cross, if personal, will also lead to their damnation!
He is pleading that they don’t let that happen.
POI – The question arises from Acts 13:39, everyone who believes what?
It is clear that everything that Paul was just preaching in Acts 13 is the “what”.
Jesus is so much more than we often give him credit for being.
Typically, we limit him to being baby Jesus or our crucified & risen Savior.
Jesus is so much more.
Paul tells us that Jesus is also the promised offspring, the begotten one, the rejected one, the uncorrupted one, freedom from the law, etc.
Do you know this Jesus?
Can you believe on Jesus for salvation and reject him as “the promised offspring” or “the rejected one”, etc. and still be saved?