The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
In Acts 2:37, Peter’s listeners were smitten. They were “cut to the heart.” Jesus was exactly the one they should not have been ignoring. He was not the one who should be put to death. He is life itself. The people ask Peter what they should do.
While it seems a reasonable question, Peter’s answer makes it clear that their rescue is not based on any works they will actually do. He calls them to “repent” and “be baptized.” The repentance has already been worked in them by the Holy Spirit. They are not to baptize themselves. Baptism is applied by someone else. In other words, there’s nothing the people are to do in order to receive life from God in Christ. It’s receptive, not based on our deeds, but based on what God has already done.
This is the promise given to us, generation after generation. In verse 39 it is clear that the promise is for every generation. Everyone who is called by the Lord can freely receive eternal life. While the promise of life is tremendous, it is not always easy to receive. We see that Peter encouraged the people “with many other words.” We are naturally resistent to God’s word in action. We always want to know what we should be doing to make God’s forgiveness fall on us. The apostles, on the other hand, make it clear as day that salvation is received by trusting in what the Lord has done.
The message of the Gospel given through Peter is certainly effective. About three thousand people were trusting the Gospel and were baptised. That is a tremendous response. Yet there is more to be done. The message of salvation by grace through faith which the apostles were preaching did not reach everyone. Our tendency to depend on our own works rather than God’s grace would pull some away from the Christian faith. There is always need for more demonstrations of God’s mercy. May the Lord grant us the ability to make much of his finished work on our behalf.
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