Chapter 44 The Jesus Code: 52 Scripture Questions Every Believer Should Answer by O.S. Hawkins.
This week’s question: “What shall we do?” (Acts 2.37).
This question came in response to Peter’s powerful, convicting message on the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2:
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
36 “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” 37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
When they heard about the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord, the truth pierced their hearts and they cried out. Peter’s answer was “repent.” As Hawkins points out, repentance is almost a forgotten word in the church today, to say nothing of the world as a whole.
Although too often relegated to a dusty shelf today, repentance was the central theme of our Lord’s message. Jesus commenced His ministry with this theme: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ ” (Matthew 4: 17). Jesus continued to share this message in his ministry: “I tell you . . . unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13: 3). And Jesus concluded His ministry with that same truth: “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24: 46–47).
So what is repentance? Let’s begin by talking about what it is not:
- Repentance is not remorse. It’s not feeling bad about what we have done. Many people feel badly about what they have done or feel badly that they have been caught, but remorse by itself is not repentance.
- Repentance is not regret. Pilate regretted ordering the execution of Jesus. He tried to wash his hands of it, but he didn’t repent.
- Repentance is not resolve. We make New Year’s Resolutions every year, but often fall short because there is no real power in resolving something.
- Repentance is not reform. It’s not a matter of turning over a new leaf.
The author goes on:
The Greek word translated “repent” simply means to change one’s mind. This genuine change of mind is always evidenced in three ways. First comes the new attitude. That is, repentance begins intellectually with a change of mind. After this occurs, we experience a change of heart, a change of affections. A change in our will, our volition, will follow, and that is evident in a change of action. As naturally as water running downhill, my will changes, and that change will result in a change in my actions.
One of the best examples of repentance is the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. This wild-living, rebellious son finds himself in a pig sty feeding pigs and “comes to his senses.” He has a change of mind, a change of attitude.
Then he had a change of affection. He said, “I will arise and go to my father and say . . . ‘I am no longer worthy to be called your son’ ” (vv. 18– 19). His heart was changed. Then, his action followed. “He arose” and went home (v. 20).
Have you experienced genuine repentance over your sin?
Jesus said it best: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13: 3). What difference does it make if you drive the most luxurious car money can buy, eat vitamin-enriched foods, sleep on a name-brand mattress, live in a mansion behind iron gates, are placed in a multi-thousand dollar mahogany casket, and buried in a cemetery as beautiful as a botanical garden— and rise up in judgment to meet a God you do not know? What shall we do? Change your mind and your heart will follow, and then your actions will also.
Next week’s question: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (Acts 9.6).
Last week’s question: “Do you love me more than these?” (John 21.15). Read it here.
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