Times of Refreshing and the Restoration of All Things
And now, brethren, I also know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.
In just few minutes we will hear the choir sing a composition called "Gloria" by John Rutter. You can see from your worship folders that the content of the piece is mainly praise: it begins and ends with, "Glory to God in the highest!"
Three Reasons for Singing, "Glory to God"
What I want to do in preparation is to put in your head and in your heart three clear, Bible-based reasons for why we should sing, "Glory to God in the highest!" I want there to be truth in your minds that makes you feel about this music—"Yes, that's what we ought to say! That's what we ought do! Yes, God is worthy of that! Sing it choir! Sing it!" And we will rise up and join them with "O Come All Ye Faithful" at the end.
We will take the next five verses in the book of Acts (3:17–21) as the basis of three great reasons for singing, "Glory to God in the highest."
GOD FULFILLS HIS HOPE-GIVING PROMISES IN SPITE OF AND THROUGH THE OPPOSITION OF IGNORANT PEOPLE.
Acts 3:17–18: "And now, therefore, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled."
What highlights the glory of God in these verses is that the people who opposed Jesus and betrayed him and slandered him and mocked him and crucified him were all ignorant of God's purposes, and what was really happening. Yet verse 18 says that it is precisely through the opposition of this ignorance that God fulfilled all his promises that Christ should suffer for sinners and bear the sins of many.
This means that when God decrees to fulfill some good purpose for us, no amount of opposition from ignorance or godlessness can stop him. He will simply make all opposition and all ignorance serve his purpose.
That's reason #1 for why we should be full of praise this morning, and sing, "Glory to God in the highest": God fulfills his hope-giving promises in spite of and through the opposition of ignorant people.
GOD WIPES AWAY ALL THE SINS OF PEOPLE WHO REPENT AND TURN TO CHRIST.
Verse 19: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out."
The reason God fulfilled what the prophets spoke about the suffering of the Messiah was so that the suffering of Jesus would be the triumph over all guilt. The prophet said, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed."
So if you repent toward God this morning and turn to trust this crucified and risen Messiah, Jesus, all your sins will be wiped away. It's a beautiful word—the same one used in Revelation for the wiping away of every tear.
That's the second reason for singing, "Glory to God in the highest" this morning. God wipes away all the sins of all who repent and turn to Christ.
GOD WILL ONE DAY ESTABLISH THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST UPON THIS EARTH.
Notice, as I read these final verses, three wonderful things about this future kingdom—our future.
Acts 3:19b–21: "19b) . . . that times of refreshing might come from the presence of the Lord [#1, our future will be an age of refreshment; we really will mount up with wings like eagles], 20) and that he [God] may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus [#2, our future will be with Jesus; finally we will see and know him face-to-face], 21) whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of holy prophets from of old [#3, literally it reads: 'until the times for the restoration of all things.' So our future will be in a new world like the garden of Eden. Things will be restored. Not just like it. But like it and better! All pain, all tragedy, all catastrophe, all frustration, all futility will be gone]."
So that's reason #3 for singing to God this morning. Let me sum them all up and send us into the Gloria with hearts full of truth. And it may be that what the truth and the music do for you is make you hungry for prayer about some need in your life. If so, we invite you to find one of our prayer teams after the service and ask them to pray with you about it.
THREE REASONS TO SOAR WITH THE CHOIR AS THEY GIVE GLORY TO GOD.
- Reason #1. God fulfills his hope-giving promises in spite of and through the opposition of ignorant people.
- Reason #2. God wipes away all the sins of people who repent and turn to Christ.
- Reason #3. God will one day establish the kingdom of Christ on the earth.
It will be a time of refreshing. It will be a time with Jesus face to face. It will be a time when everything will be restored to beauty and goodness and truth to the glory of God.
The Sanctuary Choir
Dean Palermo, Director
GLORIA by John Rutter
Gloria in excelsis Deo (glory in the highest to God)! And on earth be peace among all men who are of good will.
We praise Your name, and we bless Your great name! We adore Your name, and we glorify Your name!
Thank You, Lord, we give You thanks for Your mercy. Giving all the glory to You, Lord. Gloria in excelsis Deo!
O Lord God, King of glory God our Father, the Almighty King. You are the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ.
O Lord God, Lamb of God, You are the only Son of the Father, O Lord God, Son of the Father, You are the Almighty King of Glory!
You bear the sin of Your children, Lord, have mercy on us.
Hear our prayer as we cry to You for mercy. You intercede before the Father, Lord, have mercy on us.
For the Lord is high and holy You are the only Lord God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And with the Holy Ghost in glory to the Father. Amen. Gloria in excelsis Deo! Amen!
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