The Pain of conversion

Monday: Acts 2:36-47

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”” (Acts 2:36, NKJV) 


Peter’s message landed right on the heart, and it hurt.  The Scripture says they were cut to the heart.  He had laid the death of Christ rightfully upon them. 


The Word was sword to their souls and had pierced them as they had pierced Christ. They were awakened to their sin. It is what Joel called a rent heart, meaning torn.  It is as the Psalmist called it, “a broken and a contrite heart.”  Psalm 51:17


They had joined with the rulers and made Christ to be the villain. Now God raised him from the dead making him Lord and Christ--and making them the villains. They were convicted and found guilty.   


Conviction always precedes Conversion


It is the work of the Holy Spirit: “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:” (John 16:8, ESV) 


Paul beautifully describes the conversion experience of the people of Thessalonica:  “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” (1 Thessalonians 1:5, ESV) 


He is called the Comforter. But His comfort follows conviction that works repentance.  There is a sense that he is hunting us.  We feel our fugitive status and justice isn’t sleeping. He is chasing us and we feel, if caught, we will meet with dreadful and just consequence—death. 

But we see a different outcome rather than a guilty sentence. Instead of a fist of judgment, 

it is an open hand of mercy. 

But he captures us to save us with the Gospel.  It is then that comfort flows.  

What then Shall we do?

Tuesday: Acts 2:37

Their hearts are open to the Apostles.  Their arguments, if they had them before, are defeated. If they thought it was someone else’s guilt and not their own, they would not say, “Brothers, what should we do?”  They are desperate men. They are humbled and ready to take whatever course given to them.  


We love that their hearts are turned to the Apostles.  Where were the voices of those who had mocked of them? “These men are drunk!”  Some of us use to mock the people of God and the things of God.  

Christians and Christianity seem to be the only remaining group of people that can be disparaged by a politically correct and tolerant society.  

The devil would ruin the reputation of Peter and the others before they spoke. But three quarters through the sermon, God’s Word took its toll upon them. If there was any opposition in their hearts for the Apostles, it has fully melted away.  They now opened their hearts to them.  


Peter had called them brothers in verse 29. Now they respond in kind, “Brothers, what should we do?”  

I remember avoiding Christians when I was running from God.  Especially the ones who had known me before.  But when the conviction of the Lord was so strongly upon me and bringing me to new birth, I didn’t seek out my wretched friends. I sought out some Christians who were praying for me. I found myself on their very doorstep.   This how the Lord turns a heart around. 


The things we loved we now hate.

The things we hated we now love.

The people we avoided we now embrace. 

The people clung to we now come out from. 

The places we once haunted we now flee from.

The places we strayed from we now long for. 


Wednesday: Acts 2:38

“Brothers, what shall we do?” They urgently cried. Peter has an answer.  “Repent and be baptized.” One will lead to other. 


Repent isn’t a word that is too popular in modern pulpits. It is considered by some to be uncouth, impolite, harsh, judgmental and sorely out of date in the church house. 


But let’s get this right, it is the first word of the Gospel. It is the first word of Peter to a lost people.   He echoes the Savior Himself.   Jesus’ first recorded message in Matthew couldn’t be clearer: 


From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”” (Matthew 4:17, ESV) 


We shouldn’t take the remedy for sin out of the medicine bag when dealing with the sick. It may be bitter, but it is powerful to heal. 

"Repentance is a spiritual medicine that is made up of six special ingredients:

  • Sight of sin
  • Sorrow for sin
  • Confession of sin
  • Shame for sin
  • Hatred for sin
  • Turning from sin

If any ingredient is left out, it loses its virtue.” 

Thomas Watson, 1620-1686, The Doctrine of Repentance


I listened to a sermon the other day by Joel Somebody.  He said in the final three minutes of the broadcast these words, “I’d like to give you an opportunity to make Jesus Lord of your life. Just pray with me, Jesus, I repent of my sins. Come into my heart. I make you my Lord and savior.”  And then he said, “If you prayed that prayer, I believe you are born again.” 


Friends, repent isn’t a word to use in a twelve-second magic prayer.  It is a radical action that is fruit of the Holy Spirit’s deep conviction. 


I remember a janitor who stole money from the offering. When we pulled him in and confronted him, he immediately said, “I repent!” as though the word would make everything go away.   There was no sorrow. There was no brokenness. There was no hatred of sin. There was no desired for confession to the Lord or to the people of the congregation that would have embraced him and forgiven him.  He used the word as many would, like a “Get out of Hell free” card to be quickly played to avoid consequence.  

True repentance is nothing less than abandonment of sin. 


The Biblical Halls of Faith are filled with portraits of true repentance:


Rahab separated herself from her people. She risked her life for the spies and was saved by the scarlet cord of Christ. 


Zacchaeus left his thieving ways and made restitution to his victims possible.  Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today.”


The Prodigal left his sinful life and went home willing to be a servant rather than a son. His Father re-clothed him and put the family ring on his finger. 


The Philippian jailer washed the wounds of the Apostle he had beaten. Only then, was he himself washed in the waters of baptism. His whole family got saved.

All of these people ultimately demonstrated the final fruit of genuine repentance: a change of heart proven by a change of behavior. 


John the Baptist laid it straight, “Therefore, bear fruits worthy of repentance,” (Matthew 3:8)

Be Saved

Thursday: Acts 2:38-40

Peter adds a promise to the call to repentance and baptism. One will lead to other. He adds promises to repentance: remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, salvation for your children and to those far off. 


The Gospel more promise to it than we think.  Remission of sins is release from sins. The word is also used in the Bible to describe release of slaves or prisoners.


“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives…” (Luke 4:18, ESV) Liberty is the same word as remission.  Remission also means to be released from a debt. Christ has paid the debt in full. 


We may sometimes be re-visited in our memories by the lawless things we have said and done. We may feel shame. We may wish we could go back and change those things. We can’t.  We cannot go back and re-do life, but we can, through remission of our sins, be forgiven and find release from them.  


In Bunyan’s progress Christian spoke of what he did with troubling memories from his past.  They grieved him from time to time. He was asked how he overcame them. He answered:


“When I meditate upon what I saw at the Cross, that will do it; and when I look at my embroidered coat, that will do it; also, when I look inside the scroll that I carry in my chest pocket, that will do it; and when my thoughts are warmly stimulated about where I am going, that will do it.” 


When we are reminded by our memories, it is a blessing to rehearse in our minds the grace that has come to use through Jesus Christ.  Look at what the Lord has brought you to through remission of sins. You have been set free.


Peter promised the same that he began with in his text from Joel: “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh. Your sons and daughters.”  It is not for a limited group of people. The gift may be given to all whom the Lord will call.  Your salvation is for your children too. The dealings of the Lord with you, promises the dealings of the Lord with them.  

The promise is for those who are far off.   


I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore;

Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more. 

But the master of the sea, heard my despairing cry, 

From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.  


You are not too far from the Lord that he cannot save.  “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;” (Isaiah 59:1) 


We don’t know what other words Peter warned them with when he said, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Maybe he spoke of Sodom and Gomorrah. Maybe he spoke of the days before the flood and preached righteousness to them as Noah did before the flood of wrath. 


Souls in danger, look above,
Jesus completely saves;
He will lift you by His love
Out of the angry waves.
He’s the Master of the sea,
Billows His will obey;
He your Savior wants to be—Be saved today.

changed lives of the new believers

Friday: Acts 2:42-46

They gladly received the counsel.  They immediately were baptized.  There is never a hesitation for a new believer to obey. Nothing gets in the way. “Just tell me what to do next, Lord!”  


Three thousand were added to them.  We cannot forget that other disciples were ministering on that day. Many of the 120 were filled with the Holy Spirit. Many were speaking of the wonders of God in different languages. Only Peter’s message is recorded. But other connections and ministrations were happening too.  When there is a great harvest to be brought in, there are many who share in the work. 

Fear came upon every soul. Many wonders were done.  No doubt healings and miraculous communications.

See how their lives changed.  All of these different cultures now were together in one accord. That is a miracle.  


The miracle of different tongues being spoken is Babel in reverse. When the earliest population rejected God and came together to build their own religion, He cast them off by taking away their common language. In this they lost the knowledge of God and fell into idolatry and separated fallen cultures. 


Now on Pentecost, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, different nations and different languages come together in shared goods and common need. They break bread from home to home. There is no temple or common sanctuary such as we have.  They must have had several groups or congregations according to their languages, nations or other associations. 


But they all devoted themselves to:the Apostle's teaching, breaking bread, communion, and prayer.  And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.