This was the first ever gospel message preached in all its fullness. All the preaching that had gone on before was prior to the death and resurrection of Christ. Now, all things had been fulfilled, and Peter preached to the people that this Jesus whom they crucified was both Lord and Christ. The people, cut to the heart cried out, “What shall we do?”
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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call. (Acts 2:38-39)
That, in a few sentences in the gospel message.
That first, we need to repent of our sins. In other words, we need to stop living our way. By living our way, we hurt God, we hurt each other, and we hurt ourselves. And so we need to get to the point where we say, “Lord Jesus, I’m tired of living my way. It’s only brought me pain. But you loved me so much that you went to the cross to take the punishment I deserve. And so now, I want to follow you. I’m putting my trust in you and following you.”
Baptism is a sign of that decision you make. It’s saying, “I’m dying to this old way of life. I’m dying to ‘My way.’ And I’m coming up a new person. Washed by the blood of Christ from my sins, and empowered by the power of his Holy Spirit to live a new life.”
And it is this promise of the Holy Spirit that is the best gift of all. Because the Holy Spirit is God himself dwelling in you. We no longer have to be separated from God. We can walk in close relationship with him. And as we do, he heals us of our hurts and he transforms us into new people. More, we find life as God intended when he first created us.
Eternal life doesn’t start in heaven. It starts right here, right now.
That’s the gospel message. Have you truly accepted it in your life? It’s as easy as the prayer I wrote above. If you pray it, please tell me about your decision. I’d love to hear from you.