Nehemiah 4-7 Acts 2:22-47
“Peter said to them, ‘Change your hearts and lives and be baptized, each 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. This promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away. It is for everyone the Lord our God calls to himself.’” (Acts 2:38-39 NCV)
The message of Peter hit home. The people asked a simple, but important question: “What must we do to be saved?” The answer was simple, yet profound. It’s the response that God’s people have given through the ages when the message of the gospel has convicted them of their need to receive God’s forgiveness. “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” This version says “change your hearts” instead of “repent” but the idea is the same. We need to stop thinking that everything’s alright, we need to recognize that the only way to do things is God’s way, and we need to place our hearts, even our whole lives in the hands of Jesus. This was the first altar call ever, and this simple call’s been repeated through the ages because the promise truly is for all people, for all times.
I believe that we can’t even repent without God’s Spirit moving in our hearts. God alone does the work of salvation, leading us to an attitude of repentance and of a lifetime commitment. Denominations argue about how that happens, we argue about the “right way” to baptize, but the message of baptism here means to allow Jesus to enter your life as you immerse yourself in Him. The result of this early mass commitment to Christ was that people sought to learn what God wanted them to do and they spent time studying God’s word, fellowshipping, and helping each other. They just wanted to be together. Given the languages of the people who heard the gospel message, it’s an easy jump to say that the earliest Christians had many cultural differences. That didn’t matter. They were united in their love of Christ. One of the joys of sharing God’s work in other lands is that I get to be with believers who’ve come to Christ from a far different cultural perspective than I have. What I discover, after about three minutes is that the unity we share in Christ outweighs culture, language, skin color, age, or any other difference people worry about. If you’ve truly repented and immersed your life in Jesus Christ, you’ll be able to experience joy with fellow believers knowing that what binds us together is far greater than anything that could separate us.
Lord, the words are so simple, yet it takes a lifetime to comprehend the idea of committing our hearts to You and living fully in Your grace. Help me to do that every day. Help me to be an example that others can follow while we live in You together.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved