Is forgiveness dependant on what I have done, or on what God has done?
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “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.
Some people have made the error of thinking that “the forgiveness of your sins” is the result of the human action “repent and be baptized”. In Acts 10:43-48, Peter proclaims the good news of Jesus to Cornelius and his household. The Holy Spirit comes upon them and they believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins before they are baptised by Peter. This illustrates what the New Testament as a whole teaches. The Holy Spirit enables us to turn away from rebelling against God and seek his forgiveness in Jesus. We willingly choose to trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins because the Spirit has renewed our heart and mind. We genuinely and willingly choose to believe in Jesus, and this is the outcome of the Holy Spirit working in our heart and mind, creating God’s new life in us.
So what’s the place of repentance and baptism?
Baptism is like the signpost at the end of your street. The name and identity of your street remains the same whether the signpost is there or not. Likewise, with baptism. Cornelius’ household were believers in Jesus before they were baptised. It’s unusual for a street not to have a signpost, and if it doesn’t, the council will put one up ASAP. Likewise, with baptism. It is a ‘signpost’ that signals that this person is a member of a community of people that follows Jesus and believes in him for the forgiveness of sins.
Repentance is the key fruit of the Spirit’s work in our lives. The Holy Spirit enables us to turn from going our own way in life without God, to believe in Jesus as our King and Rescuer. This is the repentance Peter calls for in verse 38. The Holy Spirit then enables us to live a life of repentance. As we realise certain attitudes and behaviours are inconsistent with being a follower of Jesus, we admit these to God. We continue to rely on his forgiveness in Jesus, and we seek new attitudes and behaviours that are more consistent with being a follower of Jesus.
Trusting in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins is the result of the Holy Spirit making us alive to God in our heart and mind. Baptism is a signpost that we belong to a community that believes in Jesus. Repentance is the key fruit of the Spirit’s work in our lives.
Head: Have I trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins?
Heart: Is my heart committed to a life of repentance?
Hands: Do I need to truly repent and believe for the first time? If I have believed, what attitudes and behaviours of mine are inconsistent with being a follower of Jesus?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the Holy Spirit’s work in making me alive to you. Lord Jesus, I rejoice in being made able to trust in you for the forgiveness of my sins. Holy Spirit, I ask that day-by-day you will enable me to seek new attitudes and behaviours that are more consistent with being a follower of Jesus. Father, I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
A song to listen to: Our Saviour & Our King
This Grow Daily was originally posted as part of the Must See Passages series in 2016. During the School Holidays we take the opportunity to look back at the best of Grow Dailys over the years.