By Not Known
One of the most poignant scenes in Acts 2 is when the listeners of Peter’s sermon are described as being “cut to the heart”. They then responded to the apostles: “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter’s reply was “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins,…” (vv37-38).
Baptism we are all familiar with. But what is repentance? A word so much linked with our initial salvation experience but then seemingly so little to do with our daily lives except when we start discussing soteriology (i.e. theology regarding salvation). Likewise, relatively few of us talk much about it.
The crowd in Acts 2 had experienced conviction of sin − that of being “cut to the heart”. God had brought into the forefront their relationship with Him, blurring their earthly relationships into the background, so that they realized they had sinned against God. And this was followed by their desire to be changed: Brothers, what should we do? Peter’s answer was for them to turn away from their sins, resolving in God’s mercy and power not to sin again and do things that displease God, rightly incurring His wrath against us.
How much of this desire to repent, to turn away from sin, do we underscore when we come before God during our daily quiet time, during our confession at worship or during those moments, when God the Holy Spirit shows to us we have done wrong against Him? Or do we gloss over our sins as we almost immediately mouthed God’s forgiveness and then go on sinning against God again and again, without any real desire to allow God to change our lives?
This was what one of my friends claimed to be the gospel according to Christ! Every night, he would pray religiously to God to forgive the same sins over and over again without any intention on his part to change. Little wonder he would not call himself a Christian today for his heart just could not allow him to go on deceiving himself and deceiving others. Dietrich Bonheoffer had termed this “cheap grace” as many of us just go through the mere motion of mouthing our confessions without any real desire for change − for repentance − for God to transform us to be more and more like Christ.
Yes, we often struggle with the same sins in our lives − too weak to change, too stubborn to change. And our gracious and merciful God (Ps 145:8-9) knows it better than we do for that is why Christ came to die in the first place. God’s grace is free but it is not cheap. It costs Christ’s death for you and me − and certainly for that dear friend of mine as well. But do we really appreciate it enough to get real with Him?