Answering the Rationalist – Acts 2:22-36

We live in a very intellectually-confused world.

I’m not talking about the THINGS about which we think, but rather the WAY in which we think.

But I say that not as someone who professes to be superior.

I fear that I follow the crowd almost as much as everybody else.

And in addition to that I fear that you do as well.

But one of the things which, I hope, sets us apart from the sheep that surround us, is that we are at least somewhat aware of the problem.

As I say, we live in a very intellectually-confused world.

For example, western society is semi-literate, BUT we don’t read.

And when we do read, it’s either mindless novels and magazines,

Or we read things which are above our minds and vocabularies, and we can’t grasp their meaning.

We claim to be a nation of thinkers, BUT we don’t think.

We let others do our thinking for us.

We say that we are Republicans or Democrats, and we let the leadership of the party dictate how we are to vote or what we are to think politically.

We are members of one church or another, and we let our priests or our preachers tell us what we are to believe and why we are to believe those things.

Then we watch or listen to various network news sources which scan, edit, manipulate and regurgitate the news like a mother bird feeding her fledglings, not leaving us the privilege of thinking for ourselves about world events.

We claim to be a society of rationalists, BUT we are not.

It seems to me that intellectually there are three kinds of people: rationalists, realists and reactionaries.

A rationalist is someone who claims to rely on reason to determine what he believes and practices.

But most of us in reality rely only on what we see, smell, taste and touch;

Most Americans are reactionaries, merely responding to our senses.

If it doesn’t feel right or feel good, we refuse to believe it or accept it.

We react to things depending on how they come across to us,

And that includes what the Bible says.

A realist, on the other hand, is someone who accepts the fact that there are many things that cannot be explained by the mind or the senses.

And I believe that Christians are the only real realists in the world today.

Of course, “rationalism,” as an “ism” is directly opposed to Christianity.

Christianity demands faith in a God Who transcends creation and, sometimes, even reason.

Rationalism refuses to leave any room for faith.

This rationalism is not a new phenomenon; it has been around for thousands of years.

In fact I think that it has been more common in earlier centuries than it is today.

More and more people today live for the moment and believe only what they feel.

Forget the logic which says that drugs and immorality will destroy your life.

If it feels good for the moment then do it and forget about the long term results.

Forget about learning to read and think, when you can watch television or color a pre-designed outline.

Despite it’s actual decline, most people are told that they ARE rationalists, or that they SHOULD BE rationalists, so they CLAIM to be rationalists.

And Peter’s sermon not only addressed the rationalists in his day, but it answers the pseudo-rationalists of the last days.

He speaks to the ears of the rationalistic Sadducees and the self-deceived Pharisees with logic and faith.

Peter says that David could not have been speaking about himself when he penned Psalm 16.

He declares that David was not talking about himself when he said:

“I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”

Now, it might be argued that, not only COULD David have been talking about himself, but that HE WAS.

But let me ask you a rhetorical question:

As you hold the Word of God in your hands, which is MORE inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Old Testament or the New Testament?

If Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said that David was not speaking of himself, then David was not speaking of Himself.

“For David speaketh concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:”

He said, “I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved.”

Peter said, that David said, that Christ Jesus said, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”

“Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.”

“He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”

Peter didn’t just imply that he was as much led of the Spirit as was David,

He offered some arguments which proved his statement:

For example, David died.

I Chronicles 29: “Thus David the son of Jesse reigned over all Israel.

And the time that he reigned over Israel was forty years; seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem.

And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead.”

David died, and he was buried in the city of David.

I Kings 2: “So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.

And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years reigned he in Hebron, and thirty and three years reigned he in Jerusalem.

Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly.”

Not only did David die and was buried, but his tomb was still right there in the heart of Jerusalem.

Noone ever witnessed David’s resurrection; his tomb still held the bones of the great king of Israel.

No prophet, priest or subsequent king ever hinted that the body of David arose from the grave prior to the ministry of the Lord Jesus.

David’s soul had remained in “sheol” until just a few days earlier, when Christ invited the old king to join Him in the glories of Heaven.

David’s body was, and still is, awaiting for its resurrection.

So Peter said that David was speaking as a prophet of God, when he wrote the words to Psalm 16.

He even set this Psalm to music and taught it to the people of Israel.

They had been singing this song for about a thousand years.

Every word of it was true, even though some people didn’t apply it the way that Peter did.

David often spoke prophetically about the coming Messiah.

He was a king, a prophet, and in a very limited and special way, a priest, just like his Son, Jesus.

And most of his prophecies were about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Listen as I read some of David’s psalms.

Psalm 2: “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”

Psalm 45: “Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.”

Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.

Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Psalm 68: “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.

He that is our God is the God of salvation.”

Psalm 69: “They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.

“I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children.

For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.

They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”

Psalm 110: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

Psalm 118: “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.

This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.”

Psalm 132: “The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.”

Think especially about this last reference: “Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.”

Not only did the Lord promise David that he would have a son to succeed him upon the throne,

But God promised him that his throne would be eternally established,

And that there would be an eternal Heir.

II Samuel 7: “Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the LORD, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in?

And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.

And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.”

Perhaps David didn’t understand that this Son of his would die before He ascended to the throne.

Perhaps there were NO prophets of God who fully understood this.

But it was clearly prophesied in many places including Daniel 9, which we have looked at several times over the last few months.

Not even the disciples, who learned these prophesies at the foot of the Lord Jesus Himself, fully grasped their meaning until after the Lord’s death.

But as Peter declares in this sermon, Jesus of Nazareth was the son of David who was prophesied in these Psalms.

And this son of David “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”

Jesus was crucified and died during the Passover about a month and a half before this sermon.

He was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea.

His death was authenticated by the signature of the Centurian who was on duty that day.

And His tomb was sealed with the signet of the Roman governor and guarded by Roman soldiers.

But “God hath raised [Him] up, having loosed the pains of death: because IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE that he should be holden of it.”

Peter’s argument is this:

Since God made a promise to David, then that promise is guaranteed.

And since David has not experienced the fulfilment of that promise, then it is still outstanding.

But Jesus of Nazareth, who proved Himself by many miracles, and wonders and signs, “which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.”

“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.

For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

These prophecies of David pointed to Christ.

And Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled those prophecies.

This Jesus is therefore the Christ.

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

Ultimately this means that all which Jesus ever taught and preached are true.

That, as we have done in a very limited way here this morning, if we search the scriptures we will find that they testify of Christ.

That “He and the Father are one.”

That “He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no man cometh unto the Father but through Him.”

That no matter who we are, whether Sadducee, Pharisee or Gentile, we must be born again.

That “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

That “except ye repent ye shall eternally perish.”

That Jesus is the bread of life, water of life and the light of the world.

That “no man can come to Christ, except the Father draw him,” but “those who do come to Christ will He raise up in the last day.”

And that “he that believeth on Christ hath everlasting life.”

Our message is essentially the same as Peter’s was two thousand years ago:

“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

The alternative to repentance and faith in Christ is the eternal wrath of God.

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Peter was telling that vast throng of people, “Ye must be born again,”

And that is my message to you this morning.