About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
After preaching the
very first Christian sermon the Apostle Peter was asked how we can be
saved (Acts 2:37). He answered
by saying that we must repent and be water baptized (water baptism being
an expression of faith) and then we would receive the Holy Spirit into our
lives. Let's look closely at
what Peter said because it's my opinion that today's Evangelical church
has greatly weakened Peter's gospel message.
Acts 2:37 states
that those who heard Peter's message were cut to the heart.
This tells me that the Holy Spirit reached into the hearts of these
people and confronted them with their sinful existence.
This is important because without the Holy Spirit's finger of
conviction, the process of salvation cannot even begin.
Peter told these
people to repent. Repentance
is the process by which we come to an abrupt stop in our lives and choose
to live for Jesus instead of living for ourselves, something that is
impossible to do on our own. For
this reason the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to genuinely repent (Acts
Peter then spoke of
water baptism which is a demonstration of faith.
Biblical faith is not just agreeing to the facts about Jesus.
Based on the Greek word "pistis" that is translated as
"faith" and "trust" in the New Testament, faith is the
process by which we trust Jesus with our very lives.
We are unable to trust Jesus as we should and that is why God gives
us the ability to trust Him (Romans 12:3).
If by the help of
the Holy Spirit we have genuinely repented and believed we can expect to
receive the Spirit of the Almighty God into our lives.
In some cases, as in Acts 8 and Acts 9, there is a lapse of time
between repenting/believing and receiving the Spirit.
In other cases, as in Acts 10, repenting, believing, and receiving
the Spirit, happen simultaneously. The
book of Acts shows us that the way in which the Holy Spirit works these
things into our lives doesn't always fit into our nicely packaged
theological formulas. For
some, getting saved is a process that takes time.
For others it is instantaneous.
Some may repent and believe without speaking those words or knowing
what they mean. They just do
it and learn what they have done later.
believing, and receiving the Spirit are three separate and distinct
aspects in the process of salvation. We
can't equate repenting as being the same as believing or believing being
the same as receiving the Spirit. Beyond
that, the Holy Spirit's involvement is basic to all three aspects of
salvation. We cannot even
approach Jesus to be saved without the Father, through His Spirit,
inviting us to be saved (John 6:44). Salvation
is initiated by the Holy Spirit, is processed by the Holy Spirit, and is
secured or completed by the Holy Spirit.
Salvation is then worked out in our lives by the Holy Spirit for
without Him in our lives we do not belong to God (Romans 8:9).