Life is Precious

I talked about this video this morning in worship. Gianna Jessen has an amazing story. You’ll want to watch part two when this is done.

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Acts 2:40

37 When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?”
38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation!”

Look at how Peter approached the job of evangelism. As he shared that day the message, he was straightforward and clear in what he said. He did not mince words. He clearly laid out not only the truth of the work of Christ but also the necessary response of the people. But many times, in reading this passage and relating this story, we overlook verse 40.

Peter warned and pleaded and called them out. He spoke many other words to them. He urged them to make a decision. He repeatedly called on them to come to Christ.

Probably the most difficult thing to do when sharing Christ with someone is asking them to make the decision to accept Christ. It is at this point that we encounter the greatest battles from Satan. He will do anything to keep us from asking the very simple question, “Would you like to receive the gift of eternal life right now?” For in that question we go beyond the giving of information and offer the appropriate response to information. It is the same in the worship service, the greatest tension can take place in a service during the invitation. At that point in the service Satan will do anything to distract you from hearing from God and reacting to him. He will give you any number of excuses why you shouldn’t respond. The commitment is hard.

That is why it is so important for believers to pray during the invitation time at church. Realize that there are mammoth spiritual battles taking place all around you. I know that not every message speaks to every heart they same way. There are times when we come to church, listen, are encouraged, but not convicted because we are already right with God, we are doing what we should be. This isn’t a time to relax and take a nap, it is time to pray. Pray for others who are dealing with conviction. Pray for God’s Spirit to win battles in hearts and minds at that very moment. Pray for a powerful move of God during the invitation. Commitment is hard, pray for those around you.

Acts 2:37-39

37 When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?”
38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Peter shared the good news of Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord. He shared the need of man who in his sin and rebellion against God has brought upon himself the judgment of God. That each of us is responsible for the death of Christ, for it was our sin that sent him to the cross. But that God did not leave him in the grave, but raised him from the dead that he might offer us the promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life with him. Now man must respond to that offer. “What shall we do?”

Repent. The message of Jesus Christ is that we must repent. That means that we must turn from our former way of acting and thinking and turn toward God’s way of acting and thinking. It is a change of intellect, emotion and volition. We change the way we think, the way we react and what we do. Peter’s message is the same as John the Baptist’s and Jesus’. Repentance involves a change in approach to life. It includes an new and intense abhorrence of sin and an adherence to Jesus.

It is the message to the world, we must change the way we have lived in, reacted to and thought about the world. Christianity is not a religion that can be added to your plate, it is a relationship that will overtake your life. You cannot remain the same as you are today and claim Christ as your Savior and Lord. That is why Peter includes baptism in his statement. Repentance is clearly the emphasis in this urgent command. But baptism is associated closely with repentance for baptism is the visible picture of the inward change. For Peter, it would have been inconceivable that anyone who would repent of their sins and receive Christ as Savior and Lord would not be baptized. Baptism is a natural response for the regenerated Christian. It does not bring forth forgiveness of sins, it accompanies genuine conversion. This is the message Peter brought to the crowd on Pentecost. It is the same message preached for 2000 years and still today.

“He is both Lord and Messiah” – Acts 2:36

To be the Christ is to hold several offices, or to carry out certain functions. Those offices are: prophet, priest and king. They could be described in function as: revealing, reconciling and ruling.

Jesus Christ is a prophet, he reveals God. Many times in the gospels he is called a prophet. A prophet speaks the word of truth about God. Jesus not only spoke the word of God, as we generally associate with the work of a prophet, but he was the Word. John, in the beginning of his gospel, declares that Jesus was the Word and was God. All creation came into being by Jesus and is being held together by Jesus. Remember how God created the world, he spoke it into being. He used the Word. He also spoke the truth. Not limited to speaking the truth, in John’s gospel again, he lays claim to being the truth. Jesus was a prophet, revealing God, in what he said and what he did. He didn’t just reveal God, he was God.

Jesus Christ was a priest, he has the work of reconciliation. Jesus work as the priest encompasses intercession on behalf of his people, ministry to their needs and offering sacrifice for them. Hebrews tells us that Jesus is still, to this day, praying on behalf of the saints before the Father, interceding on your behalf. He set the example of ministry on the earth and now, through his Holy Spirit, he continues the ministry of lifting burdens and giving encouragement and strength. And he offered the ultimate sacrifice for his people, he gave himself. He reconciles the world to himself and to each other. Jesus, as your priest, will work to bring about reconciliation between you and God and between you and your spouse, friend, family, neighbor, enemy. It is his nature to reconcile.

Jesus Christ is King – he rules. The best picture of this during his earthly life is Palm Sunday, when everyone came to give Jesus a kingly welcome into Jerusalem. They proclaimed, “Hosanna to the king!” Today, as the King of kings, he rules over the universe. We may doubt that, evidence may seem scarce. But Jesus’ reign begins in the church and in the hearts of his disciples. He should have Palm Sunday in our lives everyday. He should be proclaimed the king each and every day. In Philippians 2, probably the best and easily one of the most recognized passages on the kingship of Jesus, it says that, “at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” That is not just a statement of future events, it is an encouragement to present reality. This truth is for today and was the clarion call of the church in that day. It was the second part of Peter’s statement.

This is the identifying call of the church. To call Jesus Lord is to acknowledge all that has been said about him. Jesus is Lord is the church’s only distinction from all other religion. Others may claim that Man is lord, or creation is lord, or reason is lord, or these holy writings are lord, or I am lord, but only Christians make the claim, “Jesus is Lord.” To make this statement is to surrender your own agenda to Christ. It is to give up claim to your life. It is to lay your marriage, your job, your family, your pride, your reputation, your wealth, your poverty at the feet of Jesus. Jesus is Lord means that you never put anything on your calendar that has not been cleared with Jesus first. It means that when he gives direction to your life that you put all else aside to be obedient. Jesus is Lord means that you do not accept anything less in your life than total subjugation of your will. You are acknowledging another will as greater and more important than your own. When Jesus is Lord you will do things that you do not enjoy for the sole purpose of honoring him as your Lord. When Jesus is Lord you will speak to people you despise so that the goals of His kingdom may be forwarded. When Jesus is Lord you will forgive those who have hurt you immensely just so you may walk in step with Christ.

A word of warning, when you make Jesus your Lord today, he will not erase your past. He will not strike it from your memory. He will not return your life, your family, your marriage, your relationships back to where they were before they became messed up. He will take you where you are to a different place though, that is more wonderful than where you are and more joyful than you can reach on your own. When Jesus is Lord, he does not erase your past, he gives you a future.

Acts 2:32-36 – Jesus is the Messiah!

32 “God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this. 33 Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into the heavens, but he himself says:
The Lord said to my Lord,
‘Sit at My right hand
35 until I make Your enemies Your footstool. ‘
36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!”

Jesus has been raised from the dead. He has been exalted. He has received the Holy Spirit. He has poured out the Spirit on them. These are all aorist tense verbs, which means that they represent past action that has been completed. That is to say, each of these events is now a fact of history.

They have all witnessed his resurrection. This no doubt refers to the 120 believers who were in the upper room that morning of Pentecost and are now speaking in various languages. There were about 500 witnesses to his ascension, which is the reference of being exalted, raised up, to the right hand of God. Since Jesus said that he must go to the Father so that the Spirit may come, they can then assume that he has received the promised Spirit, verse 1:4, and they are all witnesses to the pouring out of that Spirit. These facts seem clear, but what can we make of their interpretation. The conclusion is reached in verse 36.

Peter’s startling conclusion is that Jesus must be the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah. I call this a startling conclusion because of the impact this statement would have on those listening.

In first century Judaism there was some great expectation that the Messiah would soon come. The Messiah is spoken of often in OT scripture. He is to be the one to establish the kingdom of God on earth, bringing peace and joy to his people. He is to be the savior and king of the world. While many were eagerly expecting his appearance, many also had some false understandings about the nature of the Messiah and the work of the Messiah. Many thought that when the Messiah came he would topple the Roman government and establish a new Israel here on earth that would rule with an iron fist all the pagans of the world. Many thought that the peace and joy that would come with the coming of the Messiah would be a peace between nations and a joy of victory over other countries. You can see how, with this pervading understanding of the Messiah, presenting Jesus as the Messiah was quite startling. Maybe even more so because not many had recognized him as the Christ while he was alive. Jesus referred to the coming of the Christ several times in scripture, but only a few times did he acknowledge his identity when others called him the Christ. He did so when Peter made his statement, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the Living God” and at his trial. He was called the Christ by John the Baptist, Andrew, Martha and some demons. The last time he was called the Christ was by those who ridiculed him while he hung on the cross. So when Peter, on this day calls him the Christ is an amazing statement of theological boldness.

That kind of theological boldness has historically been in short supply and remains so today. There is a pervading weakness in the church to stand for Christ as THE ANSWER, THE CHRIST, THE KING OF KINGS. We must not shrink back, but stand boldly in the marketplace of ideas, as Peter did, and proclaim the truth about Jesus.