Scoliosis – Acts 2:27-40

There are a number of debilitating diseases and maladies which are known to deform the human spine.

If you look at a healthy back bone from the back, it should appear to be straight up and down.

And if you look at it from the side it should have a slight “s” curve to it.

But there are millions of people with whom these things aren’t true.

“Scoliosis” is a general term used to describe spinal curvatures which are not normal.

Sometimes rather than an “s” the spine might be straight or with highly accentuated curves.

Sometimes when looking at the spine from the back it may be permanently twisted from one side to the other, rather than straight up and down.

According to the medical dictionary, “scoliosis” is a relatively common problem affecting almost 1 in 50 people to some degree.

But some of its more radical forms and causes carry names that are terrifying – especially to perspective parents:

Names like: cerebral palsy; congenital scoliosis, muscular dystrophy and spina bifida.

Abnormal curvature of the spine can be a terrible and sometimes fatal problem.

My wife has worked with quite a few children suffering from various types of scoliosis.

Some of those kids have had to have stainless steel rods inserted down their backs to try to keep their spines from twisting.

She was telling me of one of her children who needed that procedure a couple of years ago, but who, at the time, was too sick to survive the surgery, so it wasn’t done.

Today he is horribly twisted and still getting worse.

What has that got to do with our scripture this morning?

Many of the people to whom Peter had just finished preaching, had been involved in the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus.

“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,

YE have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”

Peter proved through scripture that Jesus was the One of Whom David was speaking in the Psalms.

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

BUT Christ “came unto his own, and his own received Him not.”

As the words were leaving Peter’s lips, the Holy Spirit was breaking the hearts of many of those hearers.

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart,

And said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

Verse 40 says that with many more words than what we have recorded here, Peter testified of Christ and exhorted them towards salvation.

He told them to repent.

He told them not only to believe WHAT he was telling them, but also to believe ON the Lord Jesus.

He told them that they ought to be baptized.

It appears that he told them to join themselves to the church and to fellowship with the Apostles, so that they might learn more about Christ and how to serve and worship God in Spirit and in Truth.

So what has this got to do with scoliosis?

“And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”

The word “untoward” is not exactly a common word in either the Bible or modern English.

I don’t use it regularly, and I feel pretty confident that you aren’t too familiar with the word either.

So I did a little research.

The English word “untoward” is found only once in the New Testament – obviously right here.

But the Greek word, which is translated “untoward,” is found in three other passages:

Peter uses it again in I Peter 2:18 – “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the FROWARD.”

Apparently “untoward” is the opposite of “good and gentle.”

John the Baptist also used the word in quoting Isaiah:

“Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low;

And the CROOKED shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth.”

And in Philippians 2:14-15. Paul used it in almost the same way that Peter uses it here in Acts 2:

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God,

Without rebuke, in the midst of a CROOKED and perverse nation,

Among whom ye shine as lights in the world” –

The word “untoward” means, very simply, “crooked.”

And the rest of the story is – the Greek word translated “untoward” is “SKOLIOS.”

Beloved, scoliosis is not something to wish upon your worst enemy.

“And with many other words did he testify and EXHORT, saying, Save yourselves from this SCOLIOTIC generation.”

C.H. Spurgeon once said: “Concerning salvation, we need only preach one sermon by way of explanation, but men need ten sermons by way of exhortation.”

This is Peter’s exhortation, not only to the people of his generation, but also to ours as well.

We need to preach Peter’s sermon and re-preach his exhoration until all the world has the words ringing in its ears.

“Save yourselves from this SCOLIOTIC generation.”

We live in a very untoward generation.

It is without doubt a crooked and perverse generation.

There is a phrase found several times in the Book of Judges which could be applied to our society:

“In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

There is only one explanation when people say that the Bible is an ancient book that is out of touch with the modern world.

The explanation is that those people have never read the Bible.

The Word of God is as current as this morning’s newspaper and ten times more important.

Because, not only does the Bible describe our society, but it also answers our society.

The Bible is as current today as it was 2,000 years ago, because it is the eternal Word of God.

As the Lord Himself transcends time, there is a special way in which His Word does as well.

“In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

And even when there are kings governing nations, their citizens still often do as they please.

Until the Lord is the King over all the earth, we are going to be a part of an untoward generation.

Obviously, not everyone is a Gary Leon Ridgway,

But he might be taken as representative of us all exaggerated a few thousand times.

Here is a man who says that he hates prostitutes, and yet he is addicted to them.

Here is a man who in some ways loves prostitutes, but who murdered them by the dozens.

Here is a man who considers himself frugal, so he murdered them rather than paying their fees.

Here is a man who wants his own life spared, but who strangled at least 48 different people to death.

Here is a man who continues to take pride in his horrible accomplishments.

On a scale of 1 to 5, with a 5 being “the worst possible evil person,” Ridgway ranks himself as a 3.

So far all the experts claim that there is no indication of any form of insanity in Gary Ridgway.

In many ways he has been considered exemplary as a father and an employee.

Ordinarily, I don’t bring sensational news items into the House of the Lord,

But I do it today, to remind you that we live in the midst of an thoroughly untoward generation.

What is the explanation of 9/11?

We live in a scoloitic world.

Why is abortion killing thousands of our citizens? Because we live in an untoward generation.

Why have the Episcopalians elected an homosexual bishop? Because this is an untoward generation.

Why does a young man take a gun into his high school and start shooting?

Because we live in a crooked and perverse generation.

We could say the same thing about each & every horrendous & appalling event in our world these days.

But we can also say it about the more mundane things and things closer to home.

“Why is the house of God forsaken?” Because we live in a crooked and perverse generation.

Why aren’t the people of God as sacrificial as they ought to be?

Because we are affected by our untoward generation.

Why don’t the saints of God display their sainthood more clearly? Because we have been tainted.

“Scoliosis” is a term used to describe the unnatural curvature of the spine.

There is reason to argue that society should not be so untoward.

We have a sure foundation in the Word of God.

We have a rock solid footing of truth as the basis of all morality.

I like the language of Psalm 19:7-9:

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.”

There are few more obvious examples of the perversity of our world than its neglect of God’s perfect law, sure testimony, right states, pure commandments and true and righteous judgments of God.

When scoliosis begins to weaken and twist the Christian’s spine he needs the insertion of the steel rod of God’s truth.

And remember that the Lord’s church is the “pillar and ground of the truth,” according to I Tim. 3:15.

There is a fine line between the sins of venerating and adoring the Lord’s church and not giving it the respect that the Word of God says that it should have.

Becoming a member, attending, supporting and sustaining one of the Lord’s churches will help any saint of God from becoming untoward.

Peter exhorted those Jews to save themselves from their untoward generation.

Why did they need to be saved?

Because Jehovah is still upon the throne, and He takes no pleasure in spiritual scoliosis.

Peter could have preached Ezekiel 18:4,

“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine:

The soul that sinneth it shall die.”

The people in that Pentecostal throng were all headed toward death – physical and eternal.

Peter could have preached Isaiah 59:2:

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God,

And your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”

“Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”

Peter could have preached Proverbs 11:3: “The perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.”

In a sense Peter did preach Isaiah 55:7:

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts:

And let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him;

And to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

Notice that Peter exhorted those people to “save themselves.”

I believe that salvation is completely by the grace of God from beginning to end.

I don’t believe that there is a single lost soul in the entire world truly seeking God on his own,

Because by nature we have all been born into an untoward generation, making us all deformed.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

There is a sense, however, in which God seeks after men.

And when He touches them, as He had so many on that Pentecostal morning,

Those whom the Lord touches will respond in several distinct ways.

And that is why Peter exhorted those people to repent.

Acts 5:31 and II Timothy 2:25 clearly tell us that repentance is a gift of God.

And “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God,”

The natural man will never of his own free will obey the commands of the Spirit of God.

But the fact remains that repentance is a deliberate change of heart and mind on the part of the sinner.

Repentance is not just an attitude hidden away in the depths of his soul.

It is a change of heart which produces tangible fruit in the physical life of that sinner.

It is seen in an ongoing battle to rid one’s life of acts, effects and residue of sin.

And it is commanded of everyone of us.

“Save yourselves from this SCOLIOTIC generation. Repent!”

Another step that Peter exhorted upon these people to take was to put faith in the Christ that they had previously rejected and crucified (verse 44).

This had been a part of the theme of the Saviour Himself.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

“For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, & shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” – Jn. 5:21-24.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”

John the Apostle thought that this faith was so important he summarized his Gospel with the words:

“And many other signs truly did Jesus in presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

When Peter exhorted those people to save themselves from their untoward generation, he told them to repent and put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And Paul said essentially the same thing but in slightly different words in Romans 10:9-13:

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

For a person to properly confess with their mouth the Jesus Christ as Lord, he must have a changed heart – a repentant heart.

Millions of wicked rebels have begged the Saviour to deliver them from their punishment.

But only a repentant soul will acknowledge the name and authority of the LORD Jesus Christ.

And for a person to call upon the name of the Lord, he must have faith.

Then when sinners save themselves through repentance and faith,

When they begin to love the Lord because He first love them,

They will begin to follow and serve the Lord in the rest of His commands,

Including baptism, and continuing stedfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship.

Beloved we are still in the midst of yet another scoliotic generation.

The gospel message must be preached again and again,

And then it needs to be echoed with the constant exhortation to gladly receive the Word.

Will you not “save yourselves from this untoward generation?”

Repent before God and put your faith and hope on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Don’t put it off for another minute.

“Now is the accepted time, today is the day of salvation.”