Life is filled with momentous decisions, none more momentous than what we decide about Jesus Christ.
In Acts 2:14-36, the Apostle Peter outlines the history of Jesus’ ministry and explains its theological significance. Through his life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, Jesus fulfills the promise of God to save people who call on his name and to fill them with the Holy Spirit.
According to Acts 2:37-41, the people who hear Peter’s sermon understand the momentousness of Jesus’ actions, but they are uncertain how to respond.
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Notice three things about Peter’s answer to their question.
First, it involves repentance. The Greek word for “repent” is metanoesate. Literally, it is a command to change (meta) one’s mind (nous). Our response to God is an intellectual one. It requires a changed way of seeing God and our relationship to him. And that changed way centers on what God has done to save us through his Son, Jesus Christ. The history and theology Peter relates in his sermon are the foundation of Christian faith. Our faith must be rooted in truth that can be intellectually apprehended.
But repentance goes beyond believing to behaving. Metanoesate more broadly means changing one’s entire being: how one thinks, feels, speaks, and acts. When you understand what God has done for you, the natural—not to mention logical—response is a new way of living.
Second, Peter’s answer involves church. Peter’s command to the crowd is twofold: “Repent and be baptized.” The first verb is active; the second is passive. Repentance is something you and I do. Being baptized is something that is done to us by others. Christianity is not an individualistic faith. It is a rather a social one. Jesus calls us into community with others, and baptism is the first formal act by which that community recognizes us as fellow followers of Jesus Christ.
Third, Peter’s answer involves sanctification. Sanctification literally means “to make holy.” Peter describes the present age of the world as “this corrupt generation.” Despite the grace of God, the world continues to sin against him and to pervert his good creation toward unholy ends. To follow Jesus is to walk a straight path.
Believing and behaving, baptizing and belonging, becoming holy: these are momentous decisions. In response to God’s promise of grace and salvation, choose well!