Jay Sanders, pastor
Towaliga Baptist Church, Jackson
You can usually tell when things are about to get bad. When you’re playing outside and your mother yells out your full name, she doesn’t want to know your thoughts on the prevent defense. You’re in trouble. When you get a little older and your boss stops by your desk to say, “Can I have a word with you in my office?” it’s not because he likes your shoes. You did something wrong and you’re going to pay. In a story, when someone is killed and comes back to life, it’s bad news for the people who killed him.
As we’ll see this week, the gospel story is a little different.
In the name of church growth, many leaders have abandoned the pillars that set Christianity apart from other movements and religions. So instead of preaching the Bible, some pastors have open dialogues about becoming better people. The idea here is that talk of sin and repentance can offend people and if you offend people, they won’t come back.
If people aren’t offended by the gospel, they’ll never really understand the gospel. Peter was more interested in speaking the truth than pleasing the masses. We should be the same way. We fail to be salt and light if we do not, in love, make people aware of the severity of their sin.
It’s not just the death of Jesus that sets Him apart from other men. Plenty of people have died at the hands of unjust men for just causes.
There are two glaring differences between those men and Jesus. First, those men were not perfect. Jesus is. Also, those who bravely laid down their lives for good causes stayed dead. Jesus did not. He’s alive today.
This all points to the fact that Jesus is more than a teacher or a revolutionary. He is God.
We have established that it was the sin of the people that killed Jesus and that Jesus came back from the dead. At first glance, this doesn’t look good for the people. Like the famous western movies of days gone by, it looks like Jesus might come back to settle a score.
Not so fast.
The people are convicted by the Holy Spirit working through Peter’s sermon. When they ask what they should do, Peter responds with gospel truth.
“Receive the Holy Spirit.”
This is nothing like we would expect. He doesn’t give them a message of self-atonement. He doesn’t tell them that their sins aren’t really that big of a deal. And he doesn’t tell them they are beyond redemption.
In essence, he tells them that their great sins aren’t too great to be forgiven. And that’s the beauty of our unstoppable message.
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