Friday, June 28, 2013
Words about the works and a willingness grounded in worship
Acts 2:36 (Peter comes to the end of his Pentecost preach, explaining that what the crowd has seen is what had been foretold – ‘this is that…’) saying:
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Acts 2:37-39 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
“Change your hearts! Turn to God!” This sounds better than the word ‘repent’, yet note what is happening in this preach.
The Holy Spirit is active – very active, on this occasion.
Peter explains what is happening and roots it in Scripture.
He puts Jesus central in the picture (acknowledging corporate sin along the way)
He sets out the response: Repent, be baptised for the forgiveness of sins, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
There is a willingness to accept this.
There’s a key difference this time. It’s not just words (as with Paul and Agrippa). It’s not just works (as with the signs and wonders seen in Galilee).
This is a situation which has been soaked in prayer by humble, worshipping people who were very much together (in the Upper Room gathering). They had got their repenting sorted out with God! This created a kind of open heaven under which the Holy Spirit was seen to be working powerfully and there is favour for people to respond. Then Peter explains and brings Scripture.
Peter says: “Repent and be baptised…” Or “Turn to God” (The Message). “Change your hearts!” There was a willingness to turn and change, as the scale of the response shows.
The metanoeo word, traditionally translated as repent, has a range of meanings:
- Change of mind – see things differently
- Change of heart – lay down objections
- Change of direction – lay down personal priorities
- Change of orientation – Turn from self (or religion) to God
How sinful did the original hearers consider themselves to be? They had all travelled in to Jerusalem as good observant Jews. There was some identificational repentance for having put Jesus to death (verse 23). For those we are seeking to reach, it’s a bigger leap to see their sins as having put jesus on the cross.
That they are cut off from God’s love and in a sinful state of independence is not in dispute, but their perception of that sinful state is. Therefore, I submit that they are more likely to accept the need for a change of mind, change of heart, change of direction, all of which add up to a change of orientation. “Change” and “turn” are more helpful words, which are still faithful to the original meaning.
The Holy Spirit will bring recognition of sin – better that He does that than us – while we start by being encouragers of change.
TAKE AWAY CHALLENGE
Can we replicate the spiritual conditions of Pentecost?
What is liable to happen if we try to do the Holy Spirit’s work for Him? Why do we do this?