Summary: The Church of Jesus Christ is probably one the longest lasting institutions in the history of mankind. over the next few weeks we get to be a part of it's beginning and hopefully find a way to bring that kind of excitement and power into the church today
I think what we are going to immerse ourselves in today is the beginning of probably the most exciting part of human history, certainly for Christians. The Church of Jesus Christ is probably one of if not the longest lasting institutions in the history of mankind, and over the next few weeks we get to be a part of the beginning of it, and hopefully can find a way to bring that kind of excitement and power into the church today.
We heard the bulk of Peter’s sermon last week that set up what we will witness this week as he continues the first sermon of the church. We begin in verse 36 of chapter 2
where we really start to see the beginning of an new eternal era in human history. The statement Peter makes is a proclamation to Israel, God’s people, that indeed this man they crucified was the awaited Messiah and this has inaugurated the Messianic age, an age that will never end.
The clincher in verse 40 at the end of Peter’s sermon, are the words “save yourself from this crooked generation”. He is talking about the crooked religious generation that was going to be destroyed when Jerusalem fell. That whole worship system fell and never has been revived. And again that word generation can also be translated as age or time. All of that is referring to the misguided religious worship system that was about to be destroyed forever. And if you hadn’t pulled out of that and called on the name of Jesus, become part of the new covenant, and received the Holy Spirit, you would go down with Jerusalem.
And in fact the Christians prior to the attack on Jerusalem, saw the signs that Jesus gave in Matthew 24, and when the Romans came to destroy the city in 70 AD, the Christians had already fled Jerusalem to a place called Pella on the Jordan river. And so they did not get killed or captured by the Romans. While the Judaic sacrificial worship system was destroyed forever, Christianity survived and continued to thrive, eventually becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire.
Why again is this important for us? Because in the book of Revelation there is a warning to all God’s people, and I think this refers to then and now. Revelation 18:4 says come out of her my people (referring to the system called the great prostitute or Babylon), do not take part in her sins or you will be punished with her.
The previous chapter in Revelation says that the people who belong to the world, whose names are not written in the book of life will be amazed by this Babylon and will go to destruction with her. The same warning the Jews in Jerusalem received, is the warning that continues for us. And the common denominator for those who got saved back then, and those who get saved now and in the future, is the presence of the Holy Spirit in us.
Back to verse 37 now we see exactly what true repentance should look like. They believed Peter’s words about their sin and that they were guilty of this great sin, they were cut to the heart, and they asked what shall we do because of it.
Now this whole section is a masterpiece of presenting the true Gospel. Peter has just convicted all these people of their sin, they want to be right with God, they believe what Peter has told them, and they simply ask what shall we do. When a person is in a true state of repentance they are willing to do anything it takes.
Now I don’t know if any of you have ever gotten to this point presenting the gospel with someone, but it is usually here where we have people agreeing with the Gospel and their need for Jesus, that we will get them to say a prayer. Now just hold onto that for a minute, and let’s look at what Peter says.
Very simply he says, repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. All of that is for the forgiveness of your sins, not just the baptism, and not just the repenting. I think it’s important to really look at what Peter is saying there.
The word repent in the Greek could be understood this way in that culture – reconsider or change your mind about Jesus. This is how we are to understand this. Yes it is a little about feeling bad about what you thought before. But primarily what it means is that initially when you killed Jesus, you thought he was just a man, just a teacher who was teaching falsely against our established religion.