As I took my walk I was thinking about Peter’s response to the crowd that first Feast of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension [Acts 2:1]. Many in the crowd came under a conviction after hearing about Jesus’ crucifixion and they found this news difficult to balance against their own future interests. Taking two year old lambs to the Temple court seemed less an act of atonement now and more like an exercise in futility. [On that they were unknowingly right: Hebrews 10:1].
“Men and brethren what shall we do!? [Acts 2:37]” they gave vent to their anxiety (for these were “God-fearing Jews ” Acts 2:5).
I am singularly interested in Peter’s response,
“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 straight forward theology here says that nothing happens until you repent ..and if you are serious about confessing your sinfulness, you will be water baptized as a public testimony that you intend to follow Jesus!
And then Peter said “you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
This word “gift” means gratuitously given, unearned, or another word for “grace.” I must assume they knew what that meant …or, if not, they took Peter’s words at face value and his explanation of what happened to him, according to Joel 2:28, would happen to them. …and they wanted this!
Or Peter like Paul later [Acts 19:2] meant, “Yes, trust me, you need this!!! You need Him! You need the Spirit, else repentance stands alone in a wilderness of evil and temptation.” [King John interpretation.]
Once in a while it is good to set aside form and ritual (not always because these play a role in a Christian’s experience). It is good to forget preaching just for today and save the song list for next week and, if the community can handle it, this time should be set aside especially for prayer and worship, if our Lord cares to use it. Jesus instructed us to
“wait for the gift my Father promised” (Acts 1:4)
Each of us needs to find the time and get alone with God without watches and smart phones. Each of us, as individuals, needs to understand the “gift” of the Spirit as more than a confirmation of salvation, a spiritual status symbol, or an unseen Divine act that we accept only by faith. The Spirit’s work in us is a work of sanctification: conforming us to the image of Christ [Romans 8:29] , dealing with the sin question in our life [John 16:8], emboldening us for God’s service [Acts 4:31], and making our witness “pop” even when life seems ordinary [Acts 1:8]. God’s Spirit in us is life changing and He will keep us on the straight and narrow no matter how passionate the enemy of our soul is about rerouting us back into our old life!
If you have not received this gift of God, you just must discover what I am talking about!