Summary: Exposition of Acts 2:37-41 about the response of the people to Peter’s message on Pentecost
Text: Acts 2:37-41, Title: Genuine Conversion, Date/Place: NRBC, 7/24/07, AM
A. Opening illustration: Paris Hilton’s conversion, Jason Cantor’s Conversion, the NY man who confessed…
B. Background to passage: Peter has just preached the first Christian sermon of the church age, following the cloven tongues of fire and the coming of the Holy Spirit. And now he gives another attribute of apostolic preaching—a public invitation. We see the results of a Spirit-filled man preaching the Spirit-inspired word to a people upon whom the Spirit is moving. And we see several key aspects of a genuine conversion experience that will be helpful to us.
C. Main thought: in the text we will see what it really means to be saved
A. The Need of Genuine Conversion (v. 38)
1. When the people heard this sermon their first response was to say, “What do we do?” They were indicating that something was lacking in their spiritual life. They had needs that they felt, that just previously they didn’t know about. And in Peter’s answer, he told them what their needs were. And the needs of the human heart then and now are the same. 1) First, they needed to be forgiven. Peter uses the word aphesis that means to be set free from something. They needed to be set free from the penalty of their sin. As part of His Being and Character, a holy God cannot simply overlook sin. They heard the promise of judgment in Peter’s words. 2) The second need that Peter said that genuine conversion would meet was the need for God’s presence—the gift of the Spirit. When we believe not only are we forgiven of killing God’s Son (for which we are rightfully guilty), but God then sends Himself in the form of the Spirit to take up residence within us.
2. Eph 1:7, Rom 3:23, 6:23, Ps 32:1, 86:5,
3. Illustration: the weight of sin that we feel as a child, talking to the children the other night about sin, they told me that they were lying, thieving murderers, the fact that every human culture ever documented has had some kind for religion, reaching out for God, Piper speaks of the most unbelievable truth of good news in this text, “It shows us that even if you are a murderer of the Son of God, 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 with you, and guide you, and change you and empower you.” Can you imagine what would happen if you were going financially bankrupt, and you went to one of your creditors and said, “Here’s what I want you to do: I want you to clear my debt, give me a brand new start, and then I want you to adopt me as one of your own children.”
4. 1) We must realize our need for forgiveness of our sin. The culture and the world tells us about a loving god that doesn’t punish sin, but just loves everybody, and takes everybody to heaven when they die. But that God doesn’t exist in the Bible, but only in their minds. Unfortunately this steals away the glory of forgiveness. We carry around guilt. Things that we have done, or not done, said to others, sins that our conscience will not stop reminding us of…maybe somewhere deep. We have all trampled on the name of Christ by ignoring Him, and treating him as nothing. Even when we have been forgiven by others, we have a sense that we need something to be right between us and the Creator. That’s the felt need for forgiveness. And God promises to do that for all those that believe. To wipe away every sin, freeing us from it, nailing them to a cross, then burying them in the sea of forgetfulness as far as the east is from the west, so that you can live now in “no condemnation.” 2) We all have a deep need for God to be in our lives satisfying our deepest longings. We may not articulate it like that, but it is the case. Humanity needs God. You need God today. At the core of your being, you need a connection with God. Not religion or ritual, but a relationship.
B. The Marks of Genuine Conversion (v. 37-38)
1. Luke records three marks of genuine conversion in these. 1) The first of these is conviction. The text says that they were “cut to the heart.” The word means pierced, and this is the only time it is used in the NT. Their hearts were laid bare by the Spirit and the Word. God opened their eyes through the Spirit and the Word to the fact that they were guilty. 2) Secondly, Peter told them to repent. This word meant to have an inward turning from sin to God. It is a spiritual about-face. It is more than just regret or feeling sorry. It is following through with the sorrow and turning your life in the other direction. It is acknowledging Christ as your new Lord and Master, and surrendering the reigns of your life from sin to Him. Later Peter says to them to turn from this perverse generation, and they gladly received his word. 3) Thirdly, Peter says to be baptized, or immersed in water. This was a common practice of John and the Jews. It was public declaration of faith. The NT pattern is that people get saved, and then they get wet.