Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wounded to be Healed and Separated to be United

Acts 2:37 ¶ Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 ¶ And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

A wounding message
On the day of Pentecost Peter preached a wounding message. The word of God penetrated human hearts, causing pain. It was a good pain, the pain of the great Surgeon’s knife. He cut through layers of self-righteousness and self-justification to expose a deadly cancer – sin.

God is still doing this sort of work, a work only he can do. Human wisdom can persuade us, bringing us to the place of mental assent. Without the convicting power of the Spirit there is no salvation. God cuts us to the heart, hurting our hearts so that he can heal us.

God’s victims, the ones he had wounded, did not seek to explain away their guilt. They responded in the only fitting way. They asked, “What shall we do?”

Called to separation
The answer was repentance, and baptism in water and Spirit. Repentance was to be demonstrated by obedience, confessing the Lord Jesus Christ and being baptized in water. The promise of the Father, the gift of the Spirit was to follow. This gift of the Spirit must not be confused with the gifts of Spirit. All of God’s people are promised the Spirit himself – gifts will follow. The initial sign of his coming is speaking in new tongues (Acts 2, 10, 19).

No one could repent and receive the gift without cutting ties with their evil generation. The call to discipleship is a call to separation.

Joined to a new community
Every day God is adding people into his new community. The Christian life begins with separation. It ends in matchless unity. When we look at the Pentecostal church we see a church in love. This new community gives us a glimpse of what we could, should, and eventually will be forever – a selfless community ruled by love for God and neighbor. No envy, no greed, no mean jokes, no backbiting, no hatred, no pride, no fear, no poverty, just love. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?