Reader: “Brothers, what should we do?”
Response: “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God.”
Scripture: Acts 2:37-42
Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”
Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
Reader: “The word of the Lord,”
Response:”Thanks be to God.”
Yesterday we commented on the message of John the Baptist calling people to repent. You’ll recall his words were that one would come after him baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Well, that day came at Pentecost. Fire was associated with the presence of God throughout the Scriptures: pillar of fire in the desert, giving the Law at Mt. Sinai, Elijah on Mt. Carmel, fiery chariot taking him to heaven, dedication of the Temple, and numerous other times. The writer of Hebrews (12:29) describes God as “a consuming fire.” Following the pouring out of the Holy Spirit as evidenced by tongues of fire, Peter preached the gospel empowered by God’s Spirit. I love the words “pierced their hearts.” What a great phrase. The gospel pierces. It cuts right through to the very base, the core of our being. That’s what the Spirit does. Then God waits for a response. The words of the people gathered were, “What should we do?” Notice, their reply involved action. It wasn’t “Wow! What a powerful message” or “I felt so moved.” People responded, repented, and were baptized. “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” Those words are as true today as when Peter uttered them long ago. Nations and people today need to repent from our crooked and perverse ways. Pray to that end. The people of Peter’s day continued to gather together physically, which is so much different than our “virtual” gatherings. Their gatherings centered on studying the Scriptures, fellowship in eating together, including sharing the Lord’s Supper, and then a time of praying together. Though it doesn’t say it here, I can’t help but believe there was also singing, especially when reading all the references to singing in Paul’s letters. In concluding today’s thoughts, this last year has brought some real challenges in terms of physically worshiping together. Make no mistake, “virtual” is not nor will ever be a replacement for the real thing, God’s people gathering together in worship. After all the word “church,” ekklesia, means “a body of citizens called together.” Watching a pastor speak from somewhere else in the world may be edifying, but that pastor has no idea who you are, your life, and cannot shepherd you. You also have no accountability to spiritual leadership. Then there is the whole aspect of Christ being present in your midst when two or three are gathered together . . . There is so much more to say but I better stop! In short, let us be a repentant people who gather regularly to worship in the presence of God.
Music: “Advent Hymn” Christy Nockels
Prayer: A Prayer for Meeting
Holy Spirit, you make alive; bless also this our gathering,
The speaker and the hearer; fresh from the heart it shall come,
by your aid, let it also go to the heart. ―Søren Kierkegaard 1813-1855