Summary: This is a message about repentance, a necessary part of our salvation experience.
Cut to the Heart
Pastor Greg Tabor
June 6, 2004
Ridgeway Assembly of God
Turn to Acts 2:37-41 and let’s look at a passage together. On the day of Pentecost Peter stood up and preached his first sermon.
Read:Acts 2:37-41 NIV
At the conclusion of the main address, it describes the people as being “cut to the heart.” The NASB says “pierced to the heart.” This phrase describes the conviction they felt from the Holy Spirit as the message was being preached. The message had been driven in deep and affected them so much that they asked the apostles, “what shall we do?” I don’t think this question was asked calmly, for the text clearly shows that they were affected deeply by the sermon. I’m sure there was desperation in their voice. What was Peter’s reply? ‘Repent.’
What is Repentance?
Repentance can have several meanings, but in our context this morning it basically means a turning away from sin and, at the same time, a turning to God. For instance, Dwight L. Moody illustrates that a “Man is born with his face turned away from God. When he truly repents, he is turned right round toward God; he leaves his old life.”
Repentance should not be confused with feelings of guilt or remorse. Read what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 NIV.
“[Godly sorrow] manifests itself by repentance and the experience of divine grace” (see NIV Study Bible notes on 2 Cor. 7:10. p.1770).
The famous evangelist Billy Graham put it this way:
“If your sorrow is because of certain consequences that have come on your family because of your sin, this is remorse, not true repentance. If, on the other hand, you are grieved because you also sinned against God and his holy laws, then you are on the right road.” -- BILLY GRAHAM
Why does man need to repent?
If I went to the Hickory Ridge Mall and set up a booth in the center of the mall and asked people walking by, “Do you consider yourself a ‘good’ person?,” don’t you think the majority of people would say they think they are? I mean, most of the folks would say ‘I’ve never hurt anyone,’ ‘I’ve never killed anyone,’ ‘I go to church,’ ‘I pay my taxes,’ etc., etc. The standards for each person’s concept of ‘good’ would fluctuate. Then if I turned around and said let’s say we both agree, whether or not we actually do, just hypothetically, that the standard is God’s Law, the essence of which is the 10 Commandments. “Then, if God were to judge you on the basis of how well you followed His 10 Commandments how would you do?” Most people would still say pretty ‘good.’ So we’d have to get a little more specific with them. Let me prove my point by asking you some of the questions we could ask them: Has anyone in the house ever lied? What does that make you? A liar. Has anyone ever stolen anything? Something as small as a pen? Copied something copyrighted? What does that make you? A thief. Jesus, expounding on the 7th commandment, and showing that sin is not just external but an internal reality, said that anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Has anyone in here ever lusted at a member of the opposite sex? What does that make you? An adulterer. By your own admission you are a lying, thieving, adulterer. You are in bad shape my friend, and we only dealt with three commandments! (Preacher’s Note: Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron with thewayofthemaster.com use this approach in their witnessing techniques; also Andy Stanley has a great little book called: "How good is good enough?" that I think is excellent!)
Unfortunately, people think they are good enough and will one day be okay in the judgment. It’s an “all dogs go to heaven” mentality for mankind. But the prophet Isaiah did not use flowery words when he said that our righteousness is as filthy rags compared to God’s righteousness (see Isaiah 64:6). And I just proved to you that ‘good’ people don’t measure up to God’s standard. In fact, most people in this room are familiar with the verse, Romans 3:23 NIV, that tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Even those who think they can get to heaven on their own merits will feel the door shut in their face when they hear the words written by Paul to the Galatian churches in Galatians 2:21 NLT: “if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.” If trying to be ‘good enough’ is ‘good enough,’ then the cross would have been bypassed, because it would have been unnecessary. The simple truth is that God never gave His Law as a means of salvation. He knew man could not be ‘good’ enough to win His approval. No, He gave His Law for another purpose.