What a year we have had so far! Each January, as I stand at the beginning of another journey around the sun, I find myself wondering what the coming days will hold. Will they be more of the same? Predictable and safe? Or will there be excitement, opportunity, worry, grief, or pain? Whatever I anticipated six months ago, I certainly did not see 2020 coming! A pandemic, worldwide lockdowns, economic depression, riots and even murder hornets, for goodness sake!
At times I can be tempted to wonder what will become of our church. Will things ever be the same? And as the world’s open hostility to the gospel increases, it can feel like we are on the “wrong side of history.”
As I consider the future and the world my children will inherit, my mind turns to Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. The people were cut to the heart as Peter told them of their guilt in murdering Messiah and they asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you in the name is Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:38–39).
There are a few very encouraging truths in this answer that restore my hope, and I trust will do the same for you.
First, note that inclusion in the kingdom is simple: “Repent and be baptised.” The cost has been borne by Christ completely. There is no one who cannot afford salvation! It isn’t for the rich, the oppressed, the white, or the intelligent alone. Anyone can repent and be baptised.
Second, notice that the gift of the Holy Spirit always accompanies forgiveness. Through his enabling, those who were once disobedient are now able to become obedient from the heart. This gives me tremendous hope. Our hope does not lie in government, financial aid, education, or healthcare. Our hope is in the gift of the Holy Spirit. With the indwelling Spirit, there can be genuine change and justice in this evil world.
Third, the gospel is not a new idea. It has been promised since the fall and God’s promises never fail! No matter how dark the world may seem, the gospel is a divine promise and nothing will prevent God fulfilling his promises.
Fourth, notice that the promise is “for you [those who hear] and your children and those who are far off.” This means we aren’t struggling against the proverbial odds when we disciple our children. There is great hope for their future, and not only for their future, but even for their present. Peter seems to expect the children to believe as children! There is hope for those who have never heard in far-away lands, and those who have yet to be born in far-away times. Let’s be speaking about, teaching. and living that hope with confidence.
Fifth and finally—and this is where our greatest hope should lie—notice that the promise is for “everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” The work of the gospel is not merely an opportunity that God has left in our hands. The work of salvation belongs to God himself. He does the calling and no one—neither the most aggressive atheist nor the mutilated trans-individual nor the violent Marxist—will resist the beauty of his call. The call is compelling. It is irresistible because He is irresistible. He alone can open blind eyes and confused, darkened minds and he has promised to do so.
So, as you read the news and engage with our crooked, twisted world, do so while looking through the lens of Acts 2:38–39.
Walking with you by faith and not by sight,