17 ”Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer.”Acts 3:17-18
Peter is speaking to those who had gathered to hear about this Jesus that they had condemned on a cross. He reminds them that this was predicted many years ago by the prophets, that Jesus would suffer. They had been partly to blame for this. But this was part of God’s plan, and it didn’t end there. There was a way they could be forgiven and be made right again.
Peter doesn’t soften the blow of his words, but he does own up to his own part in Jesus’ crucifixion. He had denied that he knew Jesus three times. The Jews had freed a known murderer and sent Jesus to the cross!
Why does Peter take this approach? Because he wants them to know that they have all sinned, including him. But he tells them what they need to do. Repent. Because of the gift of repentance, they can accept the grace of God.
Understanding repentance is not just being sorry for what we’ve done. They’d done wrong, but could turn around and become right with God.
If saying we’re sorry to God is not enough, what does he want? He wants conversion into the person he intended for each of us to be when he created us.
Conversion is not simply ”turning over a new leaf”, it’s being a new creation in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:17)
This is something we each have to do ourselves. No one can do it for you. It’s more than just going to church on Sunday. It’s about a personal revival. If you think the world needs a revival or the church needs a revival, I’ve got news for you. It starts with you…and me. We each have to own up to our sins and shed our old lives.
Yes, Jesus had to die for God to have his redemption plan. Ignorance is not bliss. It doesn’t make our sins okay because we didn’t know. We are still at fault.
It’s easy for us to point out the sins of others and not recognize our own. We can’t help others until we see our own faults. Thinking you can do it all yourself without God is making yourself into your own God. That’s not cool! Our God is a jealous God, remember?
We can only have true repentance when we have repentance that leads to obedience to salvation. We can’t just ”hear” the words of God, we have to ”listen” to Jesus or we face the final judgment.
God doesn’t need us to complete his plan. It hasn’t been derailed because of any event in history. He can make the most horrible events and use them for good.
Just the same, there’s nothing we can do that will cause God’s plan to fail.
So how can we speak truth into the lives of those around us? Well, for sure, don’t criticize everything they do. Harsh criticism makes it seem like we are the judge and jury, and remember we’re no better. We all sin and fall short. We speak the truth in love. When we do this they will more likely lead to repentance.
Revival is personal. It needs to start with us. It’s not just saying we’re sorry, it’s a change.
Peter uses the word ”repent”, a word of hope. It can make things right with God.
We can’t just go to God when we’re going through rough times or just when it’s convenient. We need to create a habit of spending time with him each day.
In the same way they tell adults to put their oxygen mask on first, we need to change ourselves first. That’s the first step, in saving anyone else. The same it is with saving others. We’re all in need of confession and repentance of sin. When others see that we are just like them, they will be more likely to listen to what God has for all of us.
What does our life preach to others who need Jesus?
The Church must never forget that one of the best ways to establish credibility in the world is by routinely and fearlessly confessing and repenting of sin. And we lose our credibility by refusing to name our sins.
We are desperately in need of revival as a nation, as a people, in the church , in the pulpit, and in our own hearts.
We were dying in our sins so God sent us a Messiah who would take those sins upon Himself. That is so much greater than what any of us have asked for. We don’t see the big picture that God sees. His plan is much greater!
This post is from the sermon at Milan Christian Church on 5/8/22. Join us any Sunday at 10:30. We’d love to have you join us!