The New Life | James Stevenson
32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”’
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 baptised, 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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
The simple gospel
There is nothing complicated about the message Peter gives the crowd. It is simple and straightforward. Jesus who died on the cross has been raised from the dead, and all who believe this have their sins forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit. The power that brought Jesus into new life lives in those who believe.
It’s so simple that anyone can grasp it. So why don’t we? Perhaps we find it easier to believe something complicated, which needs some intellectual wrestling with. But although simple, believing in Jesus’ resurrection is not something that can be analysed scientifically. The scientific method needs to be able to replicate an event – the resurrection was a one-off.
The crowds were stunned by what they saw and heard. Peter and the others were suddenly speaking out boldly about Jesus, and people heard them in their own languages. There was something astonishing and compelling about Peter’s message that ‘cut them to the heart’ and made them ask ‘what shall we do?’.
Thousands heard this eyewitness account about the risen Jesus, and they believed that he was the Christ. Today, reading those eye-witness accounts in the New Testament, and knowing that the apostles were imprisoned, tortured and killed for holding to that truth, we can find them just as compelling.
For Chuck Colson, this was the clinching argument to back up his faith. Having seen 12 men lying about Watergate but unable to keep the lie going longer than three weeks under pressure, he knew that 12 apostles could not have kept a lie going for 40 years, in face of torture and death. It had to be true.
And then we just have to look at the new life in believers today. That too can be compelling. For Nicky Stevenson, looking back to her teenage years as a believer, she describes it as like having a new power source. She was able to speak to friends in trouble and make good choices. And when she made bad choices, that inner presence of the Holy Spirit kept her from despairing about herself. She was reminded that she was infinitely precious to God so shame didn’t get a grip. Still today, as an adult with children of her own, she feels the excitement and purpose of being who God made her to be, thanks to God’s power in her life.
The promise is for all! Each one of us can experience this sense of new life breaking in to the ‘dead’ or sinful places in our lives, whether new believers or long-term faithful followers of Jesus. Every day we can bring ourselves to God and ask for the Holy Spirit to fill us once again.
How will you respond to the simple gospel message today?
- With the realisation that you do believe that Jesus was raised to new life?
- With more questions? Don’t be afraid to ask them.
- With a desire to know more of God’s love?
Whatever your response, it will help to share it with other Christians.