Summary: The good news of new life in Christ is for all; there are no limits to it.
Acts 2:14a, 36-41 “A Promise for All”
The text today contains the first sermon of the Christian church. It’s a rather long sermon and admittedly a little on the hell, fire, and brimstone side of things. Thankfully, we only read the very beginning and the end of the sermon. Still we can learn a lot from Peter’s few words.
If someone came up to you with the question, “How do I become a follower of Jesus Christ?” what would you say? That’s really the question that the multitude is asking Peter, when he concludes his sermon. His answer not only helps us to answer the questions of our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, it also instructs us on how to live in the reality of the resurrection and follow Jesus every day of our lives.
The prophet Micah calls on the people of God to love kindness, seek justice, and walk humbly before their God. Repentance is part of walking humbly before God.
Repentance is acknowledging to the Lord that we are sinners. Not only have we said and done things that are wrong, we are also sinful at the core of our being. Sin is a part of our DNA. At the very core of our being we are rebels against God.
Repentance confesses that we are in bondage to sin. We cannot free ourselves. Only God can free us from sin and its effects. Only God can set us free in order to follow him.
Repentance confesses that we are not headed in the correct direction. In order to become followers of Jesus Christ, we need to change the direction of our lives. As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to constantly be aware of Jesus’ presence and guidance in our lives and always say “Yes,” to Jesus’ leading in faithful obedience.
We do not have any need to be rebaptized. We do, though, need to allow baptism to become real in our everyday lives.
A lot happens when we are baptized. As Lutheran we don’t believe that the stress is on what we have done, i.e., make a decision for Christ. Rather the emphasis is on what God has done and is doing. At the time of our baptism, God is claiming us as his own. Our sins are forgiven. The rebel within us is dealt a death blow. We are adopted as God’s sons and daughters, and we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Our invitation is to walk in the reality of what has happened to us at our baptism.
Luther says, in his Small Catechism, that we live daily in our baptism when we repent, turn toward Jesus, and live in a relationship with him. It is living in the reality that we are able to live an abundant life as followers of Jesus. Living in the reality of our baptism is so much more than religious rituals or doing “good things” so that God is pleased and so is everyone else. Living as baptized people is living in a relationship with Jesus, walking in his presence, experiencing a heaven on earth—because heaven is wherever God is.
RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT
We have received the Holy Spirit at our baptism. Walking in the power of the Holy Spirit is allowing the Spirit to move freely in our lives.
The Spirit moves in our lives and molds us into the image of God. The Spirit uses the circumstances and situations of our lives to form us—like a potter forms the clay.
The Spirit also empowers us for ministry. At his baptism, Jesus received the Holy Spirit and began his earthly ministry. With the Holy Spirit we enter into ministry. That’s why the pastor holds the candle before the baptized and says, “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven.
The Holy Spirit gets us out of our pews, out of our complacency, out of our comfort zones, and enables us to touch the lives of people with the gospel of Jesus Christ—God’s love and grace.
Responding to Jesus doesn’t allow us to stay the same. That is not an option.
We can reject Jesus’ invitation to follow him, or we can say, “Yes,” and we can be the people that God created us to be.