“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Acts 2.37-41
Repent and be baptized. Two simple words, two common ideas, two incredibly hard concepts to comprehend.
If I’ve heard one sermon on repenting I’ve heard a thousand. And yet, everyday, I need to repent once again! I need to continually ask Jesus to straighten out my life, to take control of my thoughts, to lead me along paths of righteousness. And still Peter replied when asked by the people, ”Brothers, what shall we do?” And he says ”repent.”
He also says, ”….be baptized.” Again, baptism, simple in thought word and deed. Nothing too complicated about baptism until you begin to consider modes, amount of water, its’ salvific nature, it’s confessional qualities. Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan. The primary image here is immersion but I’ve been to the Jordan and it’s not always large and flowing. Often it’s no larger than your nearby river that meanders across the county or through your town. It’s not the Mississippi!
So Peter’s reply was repent and be baptized. Essentially he’s saying turn from sin by faith and confession and then publicly demonstrate your faith by the cleansing sacrament of baptism with water. Sounds simple enough. But once we make these commitments to Christ, once we repent in our souls and believe the gospel, and once we let the world know through baptism, our lives are no longer the same. The inner work of the Holy Spirit brings about a level of transformation which is both remarkable and unforgettable.
Lastly, Peter urged all to follow Christ. He then warns them, pleads with them saying — “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted were baptized, about three thousand the Scriptures say were ”added to their number that day.” But did you catch the phrase, ”those who accepted…”? This implies that some did not accept. It’s not like the whole congregation jumped up and followed Christ. Sadly, some did not. Some have not, to this day, turned to Jesus. And so we repeat the words of Peter, ”Repent and be baptized….” We urge and plead and pray and ask and repeat. We preach and teach and evangelize and encourage that many might come to know him in spirit and in truth.
Have you repented? Have you been baptized? Have you believed? Now carry forth the gospel story by helping others do the same.
“O Lord God, you are good. I thank you for loving me. Thank you for your grace and love. Thank you for allowing me to walk in newness of your power and to accept the things of God. I repent! I call upon your name. I need your help. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen