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.Acts 2:38
The Apostle Peter is answering this question,
What shall we do? He acknowledges that there is something to be done. When you come to the place where you understand that Jesus is Lord, and that you are out of harmony with all his purposes and his life, then there is something to do. There are two things you need to do, Peter says, and then one thing God will do.
You need, first, to repent.
Repent is a word that is greatly misunderstood. Most people think repentance means that you feel sorry, and you begin to cry and weep. That has nothing to do with repentance. You may feel sorry, and you may begin to weep and cry, but that is not necessary, and it does not mean that you have repented. Repent is a word which means
to change your mind, to change your thinking. You have been thinking that everything was all right with you and all is well. You have been thinking that Jesus is nothing but a great teacher, or a great prophet, but that he is not the Son of God, and he is not the Lord of glory, the Lord of all the earth; well, think again. Repent —
change your mind, get in tune with reality, line up with things the way they really are, is what Peter is saying.
You have been kidding yourself, you have been deluded, you have been fooled; well, change your mind. Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God — repent and put him where he belongs in your life.
Then, the second thing, be baptized. Baptism does not add anything to your repentance. It does not make you better. It does not do anything magic for you so that you are suddenly forgiven of your sins. Baptism is the outward declaration of the change of mind that you have experienced within. Baptism is an open identification with Jesus Christ. To be baptized means that you are telling everybody,
I belong to him. I follow him. I am one of his. It is a cutting off from the old way of thinking, and a beginning of a new life.
Finally, there is the one thing that God will do.
When you repent, says the apostle,
you will receive the Holy Spirit. That is, God, the third person of the Trinity, will come and live in you. His work will be to make Jesus Christ real, visible, plain, and close to you, to impart his life to your own. This is what happens when you repent. Peter did not say to these people,
When you repent you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and you will speak in tongues He does not promise this, because that is not part of receiving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit initially came with this symbol, but these are not promised to every individual. The Spirit of God comes into the human heart without any demonstration or sign at all after a change of mind about the Lord Jesus and a willingness to receive him into the heart. On that basis, these 3,000 people received the promise of the Father.
Father, thank you for bringing me to that place of repentance and faith, and thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who manifests in me and through me the life of the Lord Jesus.
Anthony Gomez, Moncks Corner, S.C.
(special thanks to a beloved sister in Christ from Australia, for lovingly directing me to this wonderful daily devotional site)