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8. The Gospel - How should we respond to it?

The Master's Instructions about the Gospel. Acts 2:1-47.

The first sermon ever preached in the history of the Christian church concludes with an invitation for people to respond to what God has done. God has reached out His hand to mankind and said: ‘If you will come to Me this way I can accept you.’ Take a moment to read Acts 2:36-41. The key

is verse 38 in which Peter says we should respond to the good news in three ways.


Repent

This literally means to change your mind, to change your purpose and to change what you do. It involves both a turning away from sin and a turning towards God. God and sin do not go together. He is holy (Isaiah 6:3) and we are sinful (Romans 3:23). When we choose to turn from sin

we show we truly know God. This repentance is an act of our free will.

When a soccer player is to move from one club to another, the managers

will settle the fee and fix terms and dates. However, it is up to the

player finally to decide which colour shirt he likes playing in. Likewise, it

is up to us to choose to repent and turn to God.


The need to repent was preached without apology by the early church

(Acts 3:19; 8:22; 17:30-31; 26:20). It is repentance that brings about

forgiveness of sins. Repentance itself is obedience to a command of God.

True repentance is shown by a complete change of life.


Be baptised

This word literally means ‘to dip’ or ‘to immerse’. It used to refer to the

dyeing of a garment by plunging it into a liquid dye. Jesus Himself

commanded His followers to show that they were His followers by

observing this simple ceremony (Matthew 28:19-20).


Baptism does not save anyone from sin. It is only Jesus Christ Who can do

that. But it does show to others that the person being baptised has

decided to follow Jesus Christ in his life, leaving the world’s way behind.

The early church practised believers’ baptism (Acts 8:36-38, 9:18; 10:47-

48, 16:31-33). Believers’ baptism in water is a public confession of a

personal commitment. The truth of the witness of baptism is shown by a

complete change of life.


Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

Frequently people say to me: ‘I can’t become a real Christian because I

couldn’t keep it up.’ God knows that’s true – without His help. But He does

not expect you to keep it up on your own. He gives His Holy Spirit to all

believers and the Holy Spirit gives spiritual life. God wants every

Christian to learn to live a Christian life in the fullness of the Holy

Spirit’s power. He will not force you to do anything – He respects your

free will – but He wants you to know, by faith, His fullness in your life.

We trust God that our sins are forgiven. We trust Him to make us

sensitive to sin in our lives. We trust Him to make us more like Jesus

Christ. We trust Him to give us the Holy Spirit as we ask Him to fill our

lives (Luke 11:13).


It is one thing to know in your head that Jesus Christ is the Saviour – it

is quite another thing to know this in your heart. May I ask where you

stand before God? Are you lost or are you saved? Are you spiritually

dead towards God or are you alive in Him? Are you ruined by sin or have

you been restored in Jesus Christ?


Pray this prayer right where you are, in all honesty and sincerity, and you

will receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit:

‘Father God, I admit my sinfulness before You; I believe You

sent Jesus Christ to be my Saviour; I choose to leave my old

life of sin and learn the new Christian life. I desire the fullness

of God’s Holy Spirit to enable me. Accept me, break me, cleanse

me and disciple me, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ my

Saviour and Lord, Amen.’


Discussion guide on ‘the Gospel, how should we respond to it?’

Read Acts 2:36-47.


1. Since God has provided Himself a substitute for us in facing His

own judgement on sin, verse 36, how should we respond to God?


2. What does it mean “they were cut to the heart”, verse 37?


3. Discuss the difference between repentance in the Bible and a

person merely feeling sorry over something.


4. The importance of repentance is seen in the preaching of the early

Christians. See Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:22; 17:30-31; 26:20. What do

you understand by Paul’s testimony, “I preached that they should

repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds”,

Acts 26:20? Is this still good preaching (and witnessing) today?

Why?


5. The importance of believers’ baptism is also seen in the early

church, see Acts 2:41; 8:36-39; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:31-34. What is a

person showing and saying to those who witness his or her baptism?


6. “Baptism does not save anyone from sin”. Discuss this statement.

What is the purpose of baptism if this statement is true?


7. Peter preached, “Repent and be baptised, 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”, Acts 2:38. Why was the Holy

Spirit important to Peter’s listeners? Is the same true for new

believers today? Why?


8. In Acts 1:8 Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will give “power for

witnessing”. Discuss what this means for you today.

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