Repentance, Salvation, and the Gift of the Holy Spirit
September 17, 2023
Scripture: Acts 2:36-39
Today we will focus on Peter again.
I thought I would finish Peter last week, but I think it is necessary to talk about his change after receiving the Holy Spirit. Also, I would like to think about salvation today.
Here is what happened after the Holy Spirit fell on Peter and the others.
If you read chapter 2, the Holy Spirit fell on Pentecost, that is, 50 days after Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus' resurrection, and 10 days after Jesus ascended into heaven.
In chapter 2, verses 1 through 10, the people to whom the Holy Spirit fell spoke languages they had never learned, so that everyone would know that the Holy Spirit had fallen. They were the languages of the neighbouring areas, and those who had gathered were amazed because they spoke their own language.
It is a miracle to be able to speak a language you have never learned. My wife and I wish we could speak English fluently, but we feel the human limitation of not being able to, even though we have learned it.
Now this kind of miracle does not happen. It does not happen that someone's son can speak French even though he has not learned it, or that one day he suddenly starts speaking a language he does not know, but it is Latin.
Now, the crowd was interested in this miracle. But some of the people who had gathered there, when they saw a group of people blabbing in the daytime, mocked them, saying, "They are drinking in the daytime. Some of them mocked them, saying, "They are drinking from morning.
If you read verse 14, Peter raises his voice there.
Then he begins to explain from the Bible what is happening to them.
In verses 16 through 20, Peter reveals that this is a fulfillment of the prophecy in the Old Testament book of Joel for this time period.
But this prophecy refers to two periods: verses 17-18 is the coming of the Holy Spirit; verses 19-20 is the end of the world; verses 19-20 will eventually be fulfilled; and verses 21-22 are the end of the world.
Now, Peter's point here is the prophecy of the coming of the Holy Spirit in verses 17 and 18.
Then, in verse 22, Peter begins to preach. The word "preaching" sounds like teaching, but in English it is preaching. It is a kind of declaration that reveals God's will and plan.
Verse 22 is an explanation of Jesus' earthly ministry. Some of them must have seen Him in person and some must have heard rumors. Everyone who has come here knows that Jesus performed miracles that only God could do.
By the way, Christianity does not declare Jesus to be a prophet or a great guru. It declares that Jesus is God. It may also be there, like Buddhism, but we don't know for sure. But it is not a matter of believing, it declares that Jesus, a historical person, is God, and the proof that he is God is his miracles and resurrection. Therefore, Christianity is not a religion or philosophy. It is not something that you don't understand well, but if you believe in it, you will be benefited. Either Jesus is God or Jesus is a liar. If Jesus is God, then everything he said is right and man must follow it, and if Jesus is a false deceiver, then those who believe his words as the word of God are just fools.
Now, the conclusion of Peter and the disciples living with Jesus for three years is that Jesus is God and the Messiah. As I have told you before, for the Jews to believe in Jesus was to deny the Judaism of the time, which was quite difficult. But they were convinced that Jesus was God. That conviction was by the Holy Spirit.
Acts 1:8 But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will receive power. And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
A witness here is a person who speaks with conviction about the facts of his or her experience. The disciples saw Jesus in person but were convicted He was the Messiah by the Holy Spirit; we have not seen Jesus but are convinced by the Holy Spirit that the Bible is true and Jesus is God.
In verse 23, Peter says that Jesus is God and the Messiah, but you have killed him.
In other words, he is saying that you are not only bystanders to murder, but that you have killed the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.
Why die when he is God? You can read the Bible to find out. Jesus is 100% God and 100% human at the same time. Humans die. That is why Jesus died. But Jesus' death is a death to take our sins on our behalf. It was so that God could forgive all our sins. That is God's plan and foreknowledge.
And Jesus was resurrected. Because he has finished paying for our sins. All the sins of those who believe in Jesus have been dealt with. In computer terms, they have been deleted completely.
Verses 25-29 are David's prophecy. He rejoiced in the knowledge that the Messiah would eventually come and save his soul.
People in Old Testament times were told by the Holy Spirit that the Messiah would eventually come and that their souls would go to heaven.
Then comes verse 36.
Here, Peter clearly said that Israel had followed the foolish leaders who incited them to kill the Messiah, and they had killed Jesus. These are hardly the words of a man who denied Jesus three times out of fear of death.
For those of you who studied John 21 with me last week, you may be thinking, "What? Is this really the same Peter?" You can doubt it. First, Peter himself said to Jesus 53 days earlier, "I don't know this man.” Then, when he saw Jesus' resurrection, he did not change his behaviour. He returned to the life of a fisherman. A few dozen days later, Peter proclaimed, "You killed Christ.”
However, Peter was not in favor of killing Jesus. Peter and the other disciples just ran away. If they had had more courage and strength, they could have followed Jesus to the end. But they were afraid. In other words, the disciples could not do it even if they wanted to. But the Holy Spirit enabled them to do what they "wanted to do but could not.”
37 When the people heard this, they were pricked in the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers! What shall we do?"
Now, those who heard Peter's sermon accepted his words with open arms.
The work of the Holy Spirit is to show people their sins.
John 16:8 When he comes, he will convict the world of its faults concerning sin, concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment.
The world means those who live in the world.
In response, Peter says, “Repent."
38 Then Peter answered them, "Repent! And be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit as a gift.
Verse 38 is a difficult passage and requires some explanation.
Repentance does not mean regret or remorse. Repentance means to deny the way you have been living, the values and worldview you hold, and to follow the truth. It means changing the direction of your life. It is to change from the way of the world to a way of life that follows the Word of God.
Therefore, salvation is not a temporary decision, but a life change.
Ephesians 2:10 We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. God has also prepared us in advance for those good works so that we would walk in them.
Next, baptism, which also requires explanation.
Each one should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.
This does not mean that baptism is necessary for the forgiveness of sins. This is theologically incorrect.
Here, Peter is saying that those who have the obedient faith to be baptized are saved.
They are not baptized in order to be saved, but because they are saved, a heart of obedience to God is born, which makes them want to be baptized.
Next, let's talk about the gift of the Holy Spirit. Here, the Holy Spirit is referred to as a gift, or present.
Here, too, we need to be careful. It is not saying that baptism is a condition for receiving the Holy Spirit. Pentecost was promised in Old Testament times. It finally came true on the day of Pentecost. But those who will receive it are not all of Israel or some religious elite that the Pharisees taught. It means that the Holy Spirit is given to those who believe in Jesus.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary for salvation and a life of faith. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, the life of faith is not possible. The pastor's message becomes a lesson in religion or ethics and morality. Praise is Karaoke. Worship is a social club. But if the Holy Spirit is inside, the soul hungers and dries. It seeks spiritual fulfillment. Filled with worship, filled with praise, the Word becomes the power of life.
The gift of the Holy Spirit, once given, cannot be lost. The Holy Spirit indwells all believers in Jesus, always guiding them and never leaving them. He shows us our sins, makes us believe in Jesus, and protects us from abandoning our faith. Without this indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are not saved.
Romans 8:9 But if the Spirit of God dwells in you, you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Those who do not have the Spirit of Christ do not belong to Him.
Finally, verse 39.
39 For this promise is given to you and to your children, and to all who are far off, to whom the Lord our God will call."
This message of Peter's is in the Bible, so it is taught by the Holy Spirit and says all the right things. It is essentially different from a pastor's sermon. The people at a distance, meaning us Gentiles, are the ones who have been called by the Lord.
This is a truth that Jews do not want the Gentiles to accept. Jews, who thought that God would treat them specially, do not want salvation to go to the Gentiles, especially to their enemies, the Romans and Samaritans, nor to the Syrians, Edomites, Assyrians, and Babylonians, who historically have afflicted them. But the Lord Jesus preached the gospel to Samaria, Syria, and Jordan as well. According to legend, some of the apostles took the gospel to the Middle East, India, and China. Even Japan received the gospel in the first few centuries A.D.
Why do we need missionaries? Because salvation is a joint work of the gospel preacher and the Holy Spirit.
Romans 10:14 But how can we call on Him whom we have not believed? How can we believe in Him whom we have never heard? How can we hear if we have no one to preach?
Canada today needs missionaries, but over 100 years ago, they were eager to send missionaries to Japan. Now the whole world can hear the gospel message through Youtube. However, many people are confused and stumbled by the church and Christians. It is the work of missionaries and churches today to clear up such misunderstandings and help people to believe in Jesus as soon as possible. We Christians live according to the Bible. There is no better evangelism and mission than this.
To return to the story, this change in Peter is due to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit fulfilled Peter's desire to "put his life on the line for the Lord Jesus." Last week I told you that Peter changed because of his love for Jesus. His flesh cannot love Jesus. Neither can we. The love of a sinner is only a self-centered love. But the Holy Spirit granted his request. Peter was able to love Jesus even in the midst of persecution and fear of death.
The Holy Spirit grants our holy desires. He does not fulfill the desires of the flesh. The Holy Spirit empowers us to abandon our weaknesses that prevent us from obeying the Lord, our stubborn selves that do not change easily, and our bad feelings that we cannot suppress. He also gives us the power to love the unlovable. So, let us not oppose the work of the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank you that Peter was bold enough to speak the gospel before the people of Israel. But the situation was no different than when he denied Jesus. He was still facing the fear of death. But there was a great change in him. It was the descent of the Holy Spirit. He wanted to love Jesus but could not. He had no power to be faithful even unto death. But the Holy Spirit made it possible. He boldly declared that Jesus was God and the Messiah, and many of the Jews present believed. This gave birth to the early church. The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to us even in this day and age. The Holy Spirit strengthens our faith, enables us to follow the Lord Jesus, and transforms us from the inside out. Please the Lord's wonderful plan will be realized in us. There is still a stubbornness in us that does not want to change. Bless us that God's grace will remove them.