Thursday, April 9, 2015

Jesus, Repentance, the Holy Spirit and a Changed Life

This is awesome! Jesus’ last words to His disciples are a command to wait in Jerusalem until they are “equipped with power from on high” (Luke 24:49, the Message). The Book of Acts then begins with the gift of that power at Pentecost. “When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force – no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them” (Acts 2:1-4, Msg).

The disciples were filled with God’s Holy Spirit and then Peter, the forgiven betrayer, stood up to speak. Peter showed that what was happening had been promised by God’s prophets in the Scriptures long time ago. Peter stressed that only those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved at the time of future Judgement. Peter also emphasised that Jesus is God, the Lord, the Christ, the Messiah – and that he had suffered, died and been raised to life. This Message is awesome!

The people were deeply affected when they heard Peter’s words. “So now what do we do?” they asked. Peter replied. Mind you, this famous reply must be the basis for everyone’s response to the Good News: “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38, Msg). In other words Peter was challenging them – us – to repent or change our mind and believe, to be baptized to show that we’ve changed our mind, to do it in Jesus’ name (that is, to call on his name and show that we’re depending on Jesus alone), receive the forgiveness of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Awesome!

Once I get the Message, I realised that God’s forgiveness is linked with these essential things: repentance, baptism, calling on Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit. And as I read the life and teaching of Jesus in the Gospel stories, forgiveness in the early church as in the Book of Acts is evidenced by a changed life, by a different way of living and thinking, and by a more forgiving heart. This is how the new lives of those who responded to the Good News that Peter proclaiming: “All the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was meet” (Acts 2:44-45, Msg). This is awesome!

Repentance and baptism
Calling on Jesus’ name and the gift of the Holy Spirit
Result: The forgiveness of sins
Evident: A changed life.
This is the Good News

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