THE PROMISE IS FOR YOU
"Cut to the quick, those who were there that day listening asked Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers! Brothers! So now what do we do?'
"Peter said, 'Change your life. Turn to God and be baptised, each of you in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away -- whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.'" Acts 2:37-39 (The Message).
The gospel in a nutshell!
Peter's hearers had got it! They were guilty and they knew it. No excuses, no blame- shifting, no procrastinating. In an agony of conviction they cried out, 'What shall we do?' Peter's response was equally simple and direct: 'Change your life. Turn to God. Be baptised. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.' Thank God there was an answer for their dilemma.
Four simple steps to a brand new life and the invitation is wide open to anyone and everyone who responds. No need for special knowledge, for practising rituals or keeping rules, for trying to get to God through a priest or through Mary or any other human mediator.
Step one: Own your guilt. You are estranged from God because of your sin nature and your rebellion against Him. Own it! You did it! You put Him to death as though you were there. He had to die because of you. Change your attitude. You are blind and deceived. You thought you could live your way but your way doesn't work. It only leads you deeper into guilt.
Step two: Turn to God. Your blindness caused by deception and unbelief will be taken away. "Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." 2 Corinthians 3:15 (NIV).
Step three: Be baptised into the name of Jesus Christ. For them no baptismal classes were necessary. They understood baptism, ritual washing in running water signifying cleansing and identification. Baptism was practised regularly in Jewish culture - new priests were baptised into their priestly office, Gentiles were baptised into the Jewish religion etc. They were “washed" and initiated into a new status.
Step four: Receive the Holy Spirit. This is the step that is either ignored or overstated with a lopsided emphasis on gifts or "goose-bumps'. The Holy Spirit is God's ultimate gift to every believer on the basis of Jesus' sacrifice. He is the "Spirit of sonship" who fuses us to Himself, guarantees and makes real who we are in Christ and administers to us everything we have inherited as sons of God.
We must receive Him as purposefully as we received Christ. We must acknowledge His presence in us, with or without evidence, and respond to Him with increasing understanding and recognition. He will do what He does if we do what we are supposed to do. The promise is for everyone and that means you!
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...in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... 2 Cor 5:19
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