Experience - Day 12

Acts 2:37-41 NLT

37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
38 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. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” 
41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.“

If I’m reading this story correctly, then it may have been words spoken by Peter that were used to “pierce the hearts” of those listening, but it was the Spirit who was ultimately doing the piercing.  Yes, Peter partnered with the Spirit, but as Jesus said, “And when he [the Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of its sin and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgement.” (John 16:8)

We must always remember where the power comes from, because the minute we begin to think that it was all us, we’re in trouble.  When a little success goes to our heads and  we begin to think that it’s our talent and our abilities that are growing the kingdom, we’re in danger of leaving the Spirit behind.

Rest assured, the power that showed up in Acts 2 was the Spirit.  The conviction people experienced came from the Spirit.  Peter’s role was to surrender, to put himself in a position to be used, and to say yes to what God’s Spirit wanted to do in and through him.  But Peter wasn’t the source, the Spirit was.

That said, I do love how simple our response to those convictions can be.  Repent, yes.  Turn from your sin and shame and the things that are holding you back from the person God created you to be, yes.  Believe in and accept Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as God’s ultimate example of love and the expression of His character, absolutely.  All these things happen in your heart, just like falling in love happens in your heart.  Then, as a sign of that love and an expression of your commitment, there is a public ceremony to promise your life, publicly, to the one who gave you His.

My favorite baptism I’ve ever done involved a young adult who had struggled with whether or not they had to be baptized.  They knew what the Bible said about baptism, but they also knew that Jesus saved the thief on the cross without baptism.  so which is it?  Did she have to get baptized or not?

After a lot of prayer, I felt impressed to talk to her about baptism as if it was a wedding.  You fall in love with another person.  You come to a place of knowing you want to journey through life with them, and that you’d even be willing to give your life for them if needed.  Then, to commemorate and celebrate this decision, you share your vows with this person in front of family, friends, and God.

I told her that I think baptism is the same thing.  You fall in love with God, you recognize all He’s done for you, you desire to live your life with and for Him, and then you have a ceremony to let others know of your desires.  Those “others” will help you when it gets tough, but they will also celebrate you and cheer you on along the way.

After my conversation with that young adult that day, she called me that evening and said, “I want to get married to my best friend.” What she meant was, she wanted to get baptized.  So shortly after that call, we found ourselves down by a river, with friends gathered, and she came down into the water in white while music played in the background.  She read out loud her vows to God, what she was promising Him that day, and I read vows to her from God that came from Scripture.  She went down under the water, and came up a new creation, absolutely glowing.

All God wants is for you to realize how much He loves you, how much He’s done for you, so that you will trust Him with your life and become the person He created you to be.  Because He knows that from that day forward, as you walk with Him, you will learn to live freely and lightly in His unforced rhythms of grace, as you were meant to do, in the beginning.

  1. If you have been baptized, take a moment to think back to that day.  Was it special to you?  What did you feel like afterwards?  Would you make that decision again today?
  2. If you haven’t been baptized, what may be holding you back and is there someone (a pastor, elder, friend) you could talk to about your questions or concerns?  What’s keeping you from Jesus?

By Pastor Paddy McCoy

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