Welcome to Thursday’s podcast our reading today is Acts 2: 37-41. Today we’ll focus on verses 37-38:
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, 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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
It may well just be me but it seems to me that if you go into any city centre – doesn’t matter where – you’ll find some cringey Christian with a megaphone shouting something that nearly always includes the word REPENT.
The word repent in today’s world seems really old fashioned. Almost confined to YouTube clips of revival preachers from a bygone era.
The problem is that when I think of people shouting repent – I think of the shouty people preaching a message that doesn’t connect, especially in a society where we’re growing (in theory) to be more aware & respecting of people’s differences.
As we journey through Acts and as we come to the end of Peter’s monumental sermon – Luke, the writer of Acts, tells us that the gathered crowd are ‘cut to the heart…’ by what they hear. They were so impacted, so convinced of Jesus’ existence – who he was – they demanded to know how to respond. What must they do to receive this life – this God life – to live in this way?
Peter’s response is simple: to repent. Let’s talk about repentance. And so we need to put to aside in our minds the image of the megaphone guy in the city centre shouting “repent”. That image has hijacked what Peter means to be a truly life changing beautiful thing.
Imagine you’re carrying deep pain. Someone has hurt you – badly – and it’s really affecting you. It’s like a shadow over everything you do. Peter’s call to repentance is simply saying – you can live in a new life; a different life; a better life – a life of freedom. Repentance – Metanoia in the Greek – means turning around. Walking a new way – turning away from an old mindset; embracing a new way of thinking as a follower of Jesus Christ – as the evangelists of old would say – do a 180 degree turn about and walk in the opposite way. Jesus forgives us. I remember as a teenager carrying a real guilt over something. I can still remember the feeling of getting on my knees (while listening to a Matt Redman song on tape) and asking for God’s forgiveness – that immense feeling of peace that came from forgiveness was palpable and very real.
It’s so easy to muddle up repentance with confession. Danny Silk from Bethel Church from California says the difference between confession and repentance is that when we confess, we say ‘I’m so sorry I dropped the paint’. Repentance – is when we say – ‘I’m so sorry I dropped the paint. Now where did I drop it and how do I clear it up? And how do I not drop it again?’.
Peter calls the crowd to repent and to baptism because in baptism we make a public confession of faith. As we embrace God’s new life, we surrender our old life – and in the process – submit ourselves to God.
So, is baptism something you need to think about? Have you publicly made your confession of faith – nailed your colours to the mast?
The truth is that repentance is not a one time thing. It’s something we do at the start of the journey with God – but it’s also ongoing, it’s something we do often – as we journey as an apprentice of Jesus. As an apprentice of Jesus we should expect and even desire our hearts to be ‘cut’ by the Holy Spirit. There are places in my life that don’t reflect God’s love for me. As I hear the gospel – the reality of Jesus – there are areas of my heart where I’m not living like him – so He invites me to become more like him and that is through repentance. During our life as disciples, as we read the Bible, praise God in worship – listen to a sermon – meet in community – from time to time our hearts will be ‘cut’ by the Holy Spirit. He’ll challenge us; put his finger on stuff that isn’t right. No matter whether we’ve been walking with God a short time or longer – he will often call us to repent.
Last year after preaching a sermon at church I was aware of all kinds of stuff floating through my head, which wasn’t right. Feelings of self doubt. A deep sense of anxiety and fear of the future. It was pretty crippling to be honest. After talking with Mick, Alan and few others – I sensed the Holy Spirit was inviting me to repent – to change a mind-set – to embrace the better life – walk in greater freedom. I spent several months talking to somebody and it was so helpful.
So, don’t let the shouty city centre man put you off the word repentance. It’s a beautiful thing and opens the door for more intimacy with the Lord and greater freedom.
What does today hold for you? Are there things in your life that you know need addressing? Thought patterns? Talk to a friend, a cell leader of your cluster – and most of all pray.
Father, I pray that we may walk in greater freedom and embrace the invitation to repent. Amen.
READING: Acts 2:37-41
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’
Peter replied, ‘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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.’
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.