We will finish up our look at Pentecost today. The remainder of this week I will be at Annual Conference. I will plan on sending notes as I can, but quite possibly not every day.
37Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38Peter 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. 39For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
When those on the street had heard Peter’s message, they were cut to the heart – they felt the full impact of Peter’s words; they believed that Christ had been crucified, and they had been complicit in his crucifixion. And they asked, “What should we do?” Peter said, “Repent and be baptized in Jesus’ name so that your sins may be forgiven and you may receive the Holy Spirit.”
Notice that Peter was clear – the Holy Spirit would come with their baptism, AND their sins would be forgiven. We speak today of baptism by water and the Spirit, meaning that, in his grace, God sends the Spirit to become a part of us at our baptism. If we may give the “Methodist” names to all this, we would say that it was the Spirit’s work in Prevenient Grace that led them to be there, where they could hear Peter’s words and take them to heart. It was Justifying Grace through which their sins were forgiven and the Spirit born within them; and it was Sanctifying Grace through which they would learn and grow spiritually, devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, prayer and breaking bread together.
We today are drawn by the Spirit to the place where God wishes to make an impact in our lives. We hear the words, or the hymn, or see the action – that convicts our hearts and makes us wish to turn to God. And we receive the Spirit today, just as they did. And the Spirit works within, to strengthen us and empower us to do God’s work.
And we grow spiritually when we devote ourselves to learning through the teaching of Scripture and our pastors and leaders, to fellowship in the church, in Christian community, and to prayer and sacrament – breaking bread together.