Summary: Fifth in a series from the Book of Acts. This message focuses on the need for a lifestyle of repentance.
There was a painter by the name of Jock, who was very interested in making a penny where he could, so he often would thin his paint to make it go further. As it happened, he got away with this for some time, but eventually the Church decided to do a big restoration job that involved the painting of one of its biggest churches. Jock put in a bid, and because his price was so low, he got the job.
He went about erecting the trestles and setting up the planks, and buying the paint and, yes, thinning it down with the turpentine. Jock was up on the scaffolding, painting away with the job nearly completed, when suddenly there was a horrendous clap of thunder, and the sky opened.
The torrential rain washed the thinned paint off the church and knocked Jock off the scaffold and on to the lawn, among the gravestones, surrounded by telltale puddles of the thinned and useless paint. Jock was no fool. He knew this was a judgment from the Almighty, so he got on his knees and cried:
"Oh, God! Forgive me! What should I do?" And from the thunder, a mighty voice spoke... Repaint! Repaint! And thin no more!
This morning, as we continue on this journey from good to great, we’re going to deal with the subject of repentance.
By now, we should all be familiar with the first sentence of Thom Rainer’s book which we are using as the theme for this series of messages:
“It is a sin to be good if God has called us to be great.”
For the last four weeks we’ve been looking at the Book of Acts to see how God took the early church from good to great and to learn some principles that we can apply so that God can do the same thing with our church.
So far we’ve seen that sometimes God calls us to wait for Him to pour His power into our lives. We’ve also seen that we plug into that power through the filling of the Holy Spirit. And although we covered a lot of material over those first three weeks, we saw that we can really boil everything we learned down into just four things that we need to be doing in order to wait on God and to provide the right conditions for Him to fills us with His power through the Holy Spirit:
• Spend time in God’s Word
• Obey what God reveals
• Confess any sin
And then last week, we saw the importance of keeping our focus in the right place. We saw that when Peter had a chance to preach on anything he wanted, God’s Holy Spirit had him focus on the same thing that needs to be the focus of our faith:
• The resurrection
Peter’s first sermon was powerful, indeed. In fact, as we’ll see this morning, God used Peter’s preaching to cut to the very heart of those who heard it that day. Let’s pick up our study in Acts with the reaction to Peter’s sermon:
Read Acts 2:37-41
When the people heard Peter’s message, when they focused on the resurrection, they immediately realized that they needed to respond to the resurrection. We talked a little about that last week. But this week we want to dig into their response even deeper. Nearly 3,000 people responded to the gospel message that day and were baptized as a symbol of the decision they made to follow Jesus Christ.
There’s a lot to cover in just these five verses, but I want us to focus this morning on Peter’s first command that he gave when the people asked what they needed to do: Repent. We often talk about repentance, but I’m not sure that we understand exactly what that means and how crucial it is to our faith. So that’s where we’re going to put our attention and focus this morning.
But before we do that, I need to briefly address one other issue. There are some people who have taken the position, based on Peter’s words in verse 38, that baptism is required for salvation. In reading most English translations of that verse, that is certainly the impression we would get. However, a careful analysis of the Greek gives us a different picture. Without going into a great deal of detail, let me just say that the command “Repent” and the phrase “for the forgiveness of your sins” are connected grammatically since they are both in the second person plural. However, the command “be baptized” is in the third person singular. So a better translation would be something like this:
“You all repent for the forgiveness of you all’s sins and let each one be baptized”
That translation would also be consistent with what we learn about baptism in the rest of the New Testament. Everywhere else it is presented as a symbolic act that follows a person’s decision to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through faith. It’s also interesting to note that in the two other places in Acts where Peter commands his listeners to repent, there is absolutely no mention of baptism. It seems that if Peter was trying to teach that baptism was necessary for salvation, he would have taught that doctrine consistently, which he certainly does not.