Summary: This is a message about conversion...conversion to Christ, to His Church, and to the Christless.
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
sermon ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
a fellowship of faith, family and friendships
February 1, 2004
I am thankful for the ministry of the church where I was saved. I happened to pull the history of that church from my files the other day. It was Long Island, a fish-shaped strip of land, jutting-out 110 miles from the southeastern tip of New York State into the Atlantic Ocean. Halfway out on that island stood the little town of Lake Grove; hardly a town, just a few family homesteads. The American Revolution was just 32 years before, and the Civil War was still 45 years in the future. James Madison was the president with only 9.6 million Americans. There were only 23 states (Florida wouldn’t become a state for 4 more years). The first entry in the ledger for the church of my spiritual birth,
March 27th A.D. 1815 West Middle Island. A number of the inhabitants met and took into consideration the state of Religion and thought proper to form into a church.
Perhaps it is only curious fascination that makes us study the past. But it is nonetheless important to learn from the past. Over 130 years before I was born, a church was waiting to minister Christ to me. I am grateful! It’s no small thing that Azariah Hawkins, Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah Wheeler, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hallock, the Smiths and Mr. Isaac Gould formed a church. The ancient, crumbling paper read that they considered the state of religion and THOUGHT PROPER to form into a church.
When first I read those words it seemed like a "typo" of the quill. Should have said, "thought it proper." But, it was right....they "thought proper." They thought correctly. God knew an 8 year old boy would find Jesus there in the 1950’s. They thought "proper!"
“Thinking proper” means making wise decisions. In our text for today we find the disciples standing in the shadow of the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus had shared His plans and power with them for reaching the world with God’s good news of salvation. They had waited for God’s “go-ahead” to begin. It came at the time of Pentecost in the form of the Holy Spirit descending upon them in power, and urging them to go out and spread the news.
Peter was the spokesman, and he stood in front of a very large crowd of his fellow countrymen. He told them that we are all sinners before God, and guilty; therefore we all need to be saved. Our text records their response:
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every 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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Acts 2:37-40 (NIV)
Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. There is ‘proper thinking’ if ever it was proclaimed! To be saved from corruptness is all about Jesus, all about being forgiven and welcomed into God’s “Forever Family”.
I read something years ago which was attributed to George Ingles. He said that there are really “…three conversions in a man: First to Christ; Second to the church; and Third back to the world.” If a man comes to Christ, he ought then set his sights on the Church, the bride of Jesus, and then on the world, bringing the Christless to the Lord.
Three conversions – yet, there is something that comes before conversion. The people standing and listening to Peter’s sermon understood that. They understood it enough to ask the question…what should we do? They understood that they were sinners before God. That “understanding” is what we commonly call conviction. If there is going to be a true conversion in a person’s life (or true conversions), then conviction comes first like a doorway to each of the conversions in a man’s life. Let’s look at those doorways of conviction that lead to true conversion.
I. Conviction for Christ
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. Acts 2:41
Peter’s sermon was Jesus-centered. The convicting power of that sermon was not Peter’s clever words. Peter was no public speaker; whenever he opened his mouth it was usually only to exchange one foot for the other. The convicting power of that retelling of the Gospel story was the Holy Spirit working on the hearers to produce conviction. Jesus told the disciples it would be this way: