In last weeks post I had stated that Peter was asking the listening crowd to repent from their unbelief, I think a bit of understanding concerning the culture may shed some light on why this is an important part of the discussion. Most of what I am about to say is pieced together from many sources over the years so it may not be exactly accurate, if you have some good sources I would love to hear about them.
It seemed that most folks in the days of Jesus had some kind of belief in the supernatural. Of course Jerusalem at that time was mostly a Jewish community. Temple and the local synagogue played an important part in their daily lives so if some Rabi went rogue most of the community would know about it, and this Jesus was a real rouge. He taught about faith in God, He taught about a loving God who judges mens hearts, not their actions, He even claimed to be the promised one of God, the Messiah. This was a very different message than what the priest taught whose real concern was their pomp, power and pocketbooks.
Many if not most of the Jews had attended synagogue school while growing up where they learned about their history, God and the prophets, and of course the prophecies concerning the Messiah who would restore Israel to it's former state of glory they had had during King David's reign. This basic understanding is what Peter was appealing to. He demonstrated from the scripture that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and that all the Jewish people were guilty of rejecting Him. They felt that guilt, they wanted to do something about it, Peter told them to repent, to change their minds about this Jesus and recognize that He was God made man, then be baptized for the remission of their sins.
Last week we also saw that repentance was a deep sorrow for a word or deed from the past that leads us into taking a different action to demonstrate that change of mind. Initially, for the new convert, that is public confession and baptism, then we are promised the gift of the Holy Ghost. I had also stated that repentance needs to become a lifelong habit for us. This flies in the face of the once saved always saved crowd, or does it?
Let me use an analogy here to explain why I believe that our conversion experience is to be the beginning of a lifelong process of repentance.
Suppose, for a moment you and a friend had purchased a wonderful old Victorian mansion. It was run down, filled with trash and cobwebs and tons of dirt. Your friend had put up the money for the purchase and you both were going to live there. In the first week you come in and in gratitude you bust your rear end to get the place cleaned up, you haul off the trash, fix the windows, polish the wood , you even mowed the lawn.
So the next week you both move in.
Then a few weeks later without realizing what you were doing you start packing boxes of trash back into the house. You stop cleaning, cobwebs start collecting and before long it's beginning to look like it did when you and your friend bought the place.
So how does my story relate. When you convert, when you first realize that Jesus is the Christ, that place in your heart that was designed for the Holy Ghost to dwell in, is swept clean and He comes to live with you. But before long you lose your temper with some one, box of trash, you said something you shouldn't have said about another person, oops a cobweb. You feel resentment about helping your folks, oh no, a truck load of dirt. Get the picture.
Now, what happens if you don't clean house? Won't that place in your heart that the Holy Ghost lives in begin to get too full for Him to stay. Of course it will. Of course, the Holy Spirit will not let you keep filling your heart with trash, He will convict you. But if no one taught you how to clean house what are you to do? This is why we need strong discipleship programs for new converts in our communities, the church is supposed to be a community not a once a week social club like many churches of today have become.
What Biblical proof do I have for what I am saying? The whole book of James. Read it, love it, live it.
This Sunday is the day we celebrate the Resurrection, a day of new beginnings, the day when God ratified the New Covenant, signed with His own Sons blood. Jesus was the first born of the New man, the next stage in the evolution of the Human Species if we accept His gift through faith and repent and be baptized, we will be made like Him and live in the joyous rapture of God's presence forever.
May God Bless you and may you be a blessing to others.