Third Sunday of Easter: The Substituted Old Testament Passage – The First (but certainly not the last) Converts

The lectionary passage starts again with verse 14a from Acts chapter two, “But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them”. Peter, in fact, addressed them for some time.

Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.” (Verses 36 – 41)

I read something interesting the other day – someone was commenting about the dramatic change in the disciples/apostles after they had received the Holy Spirit. It is true that accepting Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can dramatically change a person. Sometimes this change is very immediate, and sometimes it happens over time but is no less dramatic. Do not think, beloved reader, if there was no drama in your conversion that it was not real and authentic.

I had a seminary professor who once said that for most people it is a dramatic and “turning the corner” or “turnaround experience”. It is as if there was life before . . . . and life afterwards – distinct change. I did not find it that way. Maybe some day I will share that story. But for now we are with Peter in Jerusalem and witnessing the first conversion of people after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Three thousand is a pretty impressive number. But Peter and the apostles were pretty impressive people!

As the days, and Sundays, after Easter unfold may you carry with you the wonderful changes that the Holy Spirit has made in your life. Selah!

The Reign of God – To know God is to fear and worship God

“Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For You alone are holy; for all the nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelations 15: 4)

If you have been in Christian circles long enough, you start to hear conversion stories. One of the greatest conversion I ever heard comes not from adults, but from a teenager. I had a friend in high school who did not believe in God, Christ, or any of the other tenets of the Christian faith. No one could persuade him otherwise, and in the heart of Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada where EVERYONE went to some sort of church, he was unique.

Well, as I said, no one could change or shift his mind. But some of his friends who lived in the area that he did kept hoping. One of these friends, wise beyond the years he had lived, as this atheist friend to help him prepare for a debate where he was representing the atheist side (it was a church youth event). Well this friend helped his church friend with all the enthusiasm and rhetoric he had. And while listening to the debate where the atheist side got “walloped” this friend came to faith. Amazing!

I stand in awe still how God brings people to faith in so many diverse ways.

God reigns whether we acknowledge it or not. All the unbelief in the world will not stop God from being God. We can refuse to believe, put up any barriers we want, try to disprove with whatever manner of evidence and argument we want. Doesn’t change anything. The only thing that is impacted by our unbelief . . . . is us.

May you gentle reader believe in a God who gave and did everything possible to bring you into faith. Believe in God, because God certainly believes in us! Selah!