2018-02-25 – Acts 2:36-41 – The First Sermon Results

2018-02-25 – Acts 2.36-41 – The First Sermon Results

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”  37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

2018-02-25 – Acts 2:22-36 – The First Sermon Results
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.

The Olympic Games started. Anyone watching? Last I checked we had 23 medals and at 9 golds. The Olympics Games date back to before the New Testament. Around 776 BC

Last Sunday after church the Black History Extravaganza was held here. I don’t know the count but I would guess we had over a hundred people…

Referend Billy Graham died at the age of 99 last Wednesday. He was widely considered America’s greatest pastor. Billy Graham was admired for his moral leadership and evangelistic passion. His career spanned for more than six decades as a Southern Baptist minister, preaching to more than 200 million people worldwide and ministered to every U.S. Presidents since Eisenhower. President Obama even visited Billy’s home in North Carolina. His messages were always simple but heartfelt. He said “I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins.”     God Bless you Billy Graham.

Please turn in your Bibles to Acts 2:36, pg 120 in the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God, and let us start with prayer.   [Prayer]

In our last sermon message we saw Peter address the new church for the first time, and we went over the finale of Peter’s first sermon. In summary, Peter boldly said to the Israelites: You saw Jesus, He was one of our own, you witnessed the miracles and everything He did and yet you let him be killed. This is the same Jesus that our King David wrote about. This was David’s own decedent and David’s Lord. And now that same Jesus that you crucified is sitting at the right hand of God. So what you going to say about that.

Today we are going to look at the results of that powerful message.

Before we get started with the scripture, let me remind you that Peter was surrounded by thousands of local folk as well as visitors from the surrounding nations. He concluded his message with what we see here in verse 36. He said:

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 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 told them effectively, that what they meant for evil, God used for good. That same dynamic happens in many of our Bible stories, where people intended harm or ill will, but God turned the table on them. As Peter was publicly ridiculing the Israelites, I could imagine they were reminded of how even their ancestor Joseph in years prior, was mistreated but later on exalted. In Genesis 50:20, you might recall that Joseph said “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people.” Joseph was talking about the Israelites in Egypt, and him being left for dead, sold as a slave, and thrown in jail. But that resulted in Joseph gaining the number two position in the Egyptian government, and thus the Israelites were able to survive and even thrive during a seven-year famine. God used Joseph’s painful circumstances to save the people of Israel. And God used the painful and evil circumstances around what happened to Jesus to save the World.

These people in verse 37 were “cut to the heart” that day, our verse says. The Bible, the Word of God, will sometimes cut you, which is another way to say convict you, but for the purposes that it might convert you. Many times people say they just want to listen to an encouraging and uplifting message, and I understand that. But just as Peter makes clear here, sometimes we need to be convicted, and have our wounds opened up in order to start the healing process.

The people in the crowd, listening to Peter that day were utterly at odds with God and they were living against His will. They were out of step with God’s character. They were in violation of His Word and will. God was going one way, they were going another way, and Peter was pointing out their sin so as to maybe lead them to salvation. Proverbs 27 says it this way, “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” Peter cared enough for them that day that he risked his own life in order to get them on the right path. To save them from an eternity in Hell.

What they desperately needed (and what we need), and what God in amazing grace was ready to offer, is forgiveness. They had offended God. They had violated God. They had disobeyed God. And Peter knew there was only one hope—that God might find a way to be the holy God that He is and yet forgive. Which is exactly what He made available for them and us, through the death of His Son Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary.

At the end of this verse 37 they said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Can you feel the emotion behind that question? Have you ever got to that point where in your heart or even vocally you ask that question? …

What shall I do? Help me Lord! I remember all too well the day that I did. It wasn’t a whimsical notion it was real, it was painful and life changing. And the answer I realized was the same that Peter now offers in these next few verses.

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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”   40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 

So now I take the words at the end of verse 40 by Peter and apply them this morning with all the urgency that I can: “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Today, we live in an atmosphere of moral relativism. What is evil is called righteous, and what is good according to God’s will is called evil. And the most crooked thing about this generation is that we have even invented ways of salvation without God and without law and therefore without forgiveness being necessary. But I declare to you this morning that there is a God, there is a holy law, and in the name of Jesus Christ there is forgiveness. And God stands ready give it to those that ask, but so many refuse to do so, and it breaks my heart.

So the Israelites asked “What shall we do?” What shall we do so that our sins will be forgiven and we can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? In verse 38 Peter gives the answer: “Repent”, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ.” So let us consider these two things one at a time, first repentance, then baptism in the name of Jesus.

First Repent – Repentance is not just regret. Many folks are confused on this. In our verses here they had already been “cut to the heart” and now Peter says for them to “Repent!” So repentance is more than just feeling sorry. It means following through on that conviction you have and turn around—changing your mind and your heart so that you are no longer at odds with God but are in sync with God will instead. A great example of this is when Jesus spoke to Paul in Acts 26:18 about this “turning” that leads to forgiveness and gave Paul his commission with these words, “I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins.” So there it is; that is Jesus’s definition of repentance: turning from darkness to light and from Satan to God. It is a reversal of the direction of your sinful life—a “180 degree” turn from sin toward God.

I can attest that my life is so much more enjoyable since I made that change. Not only did it save my eternity from pain and suffering, but it also ushered into my life great lasting joy. The Christian “Way” as some early believers called it, is so much more beneficial and pleasurable, and not just for me but for my family as well. But I know for some, making a 180 degree turn is tough to do. I run into people all the time, that although they even know it would be better, they refuse to change because they feel they are stuck in their ways. It is so sad to see people continue to spiral down into deeper sin and despair. It breaks my heart.

Coincidently, I met with the director of 180 Ministries in Davenport a couple of weeks ago. Rusty (the CEO) just started serving the community five years ago by cleaning up the streets with a few people and some plastic bags. And now the ministry has grown to impacting thousands and giving glory to God. They work with churches, shelters, schools and even started a training/enterprise branch to help people get back on their feet. Rusty agrees with me that Kewanee fits the profile for such a ministry. To bring Jesus to the cities people through service. I don’t know how or if anything will materialize in this regard, but please keep this in prayer. You see it is more than the physical needs that is important to address, even more important is the spiritual needs of our community that is our real mission. One person at a time, repenting as God opens doors.

But according to Peter, repenting is only the first part of the answer to the question, “What shall we do?” The second part of the answer in verse 38 Peter said, “Be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ.” And I hope you see the significance of the order here, because it does make a difference. Peter said repent, then be Baptized, and not the other way around.

You see baptism isn’t what saves you, only a personal relations with Jesus, calling Him your Lord and Savior, and accepting His forgiveness of your sins can you then be saved. That’s why Peter makes such a deal saying and qualifying everything with ”in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins”. You must have faith enough to ask Jesus to come into your life and forgive you. That is when the true process of true change begins. It’s all about faith, ladies and gentlemen. Throughout this book of Acts, Dr. Luke, indicates that faith is the key.

Some folks think that Baptism saves them, and that through Baptism the Holy Spirit comes. That is not biblical, and there many instances in this book of Acts and in scripture that go completely against that idea. The one that many people refer to is Jesus on the Cross. He told the thief hanging next to Him, “today you will be with Me in paradise”. The thief was never had a chance to be baptized. And regarding Baptism being a requirement before the Holy Spirit is given, a good example for us to look at is Acts Chapter 10, verse 44 when Peter was speaking to the Gentiles, it says, “the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in other tongues and declaring the greatness of God. Then Peter responded, “Can anyone withhold water and prevent these people from being baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”” So the point here is, that Baptism is not what saves you, and Baptism is not what ushers in the Holy Spirit into your lives. Only Faith does that by and through the Jesus Christ alone.

But many people ask, what does it mean to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?
The New Testament refers to being baptized in the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit, being empowered by the Spirit, and being indwelt by the Spirit. However, the longer I meditate on those alternatives the less I see reasons in the text to choose between them. My answer would be simply this: If you truly repent, and through faith believe in name of Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit will be given to you, and that will make an astounding difference in your life. From that day on you will have the Holy Spirit, and He will manifest Himself in your life in many blessed ways.

There are the two great needs that we all have in this regard. The first is to be forgiven—to have all the violations and offenses and transgressions and disobedience and sins cancelled out. Isaiah 1:18 says, “Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow!” And the second need is to have the Holy Spirit himself come into our lives where sin once reigned. We need a personal relationship with God through His Holy Spirit. And He will grow in you wisdom and guidance and love and joy and peace and patience and goodness and self-control.

Then our last verse in this section tells of the amazing results of Peter’s first sermon. Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Three Thousand accepted Jesus as their savior that day. Three Thousand!
These were the same people that Peter was pointing his finger at convicting them of their sins a few moments before. I can’t even imagine what it would look like to baptize three thousand in one day, could you? However that is a great segue to consider again the initiative we have coming up called One Grand Sunday.. https://vimeo.com/255802755 I know a few that are interested to be Baptized..

The message today from God’s Word through the Apostle Peter gives us hope. It shows us that even if you committed atrocities like these Israelites did, God Himself stands ready to forgive you! And not only to forgive you but to give you His Spirit! In other words He is willing to cancel all your debts and then come and live within you, and guide you, and change you, and empower you.

And for all this, all that the Savior offers you here cannot be earned or bought. It is a free gift to all who repent—who turn from darkness to light—and call on the name of the Lord. Repentance is a change of mind that results into change of heart and a change of actions. But God doesn’t force anyone to make such a decision. He offers it to you freely. It is your choice. And He desires that you choose Him on your own accord. That is how much He loves you.

Again, our last verse says “All that accepted his message were baptized”. That would also suggest that some there that day did not accept, and were not baptized. Which about you today? Just like the Israelites, you have seen many wonders in your life that point to the existence of God. You have read and you have heard of all the great things He has done. You probably have felt His Holy Spirit working on your heart. Calling you to repentance. He loves you that much.

Please Rise.