Good News You Can Understand | James Stevenson
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 fellowship of the believers
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
In chapter 2 of Acts Peter preaches the first sermon in the early church and convinces 3000 people to turn to Christ and receive the Holy Spirit. We then see a picture of a community living in unity, forgiving one another and fighting against the poverty in their midst. There was a sense of the disciples being like Jesus to one another, and the later name of ‘Christians’ meant ‘little Christs’.
The story Peter told has swept through history and across the world. Today the church is growing in parts of the world where Christians are faced with arrest and even death. It was the same in Britain 1400 years ago, and our justice system and health care owe a lot to those Christian foundations in our society. But in the last 100 years faith in the UK has dropped off as people have believed other stories about God and what life is all about.
But now we are in a time of a new resurgence of faith. Churches are being renewed as people hear the truth about Jesus, and new churches are opening. People are hearing the same message that Peter preached, and as they respond to Jesus the Holy Spirit fills them from the inside out. That’s where new lives begin. Addictions are broken, marriages are restored, people recover from abuse, because the Holy Spirit is at work in people’s lives.
The Liverpool manager said that people enjoy 90 minutes of football so that they can forget their problems for three days and then spend the rest of the week looking forward to the next match. In our 90 minutes together in church on Sundays we help people to encounter the Holy Spirit, not so that we can forget our problems for the next few days but to help us face those problems and live out a new life. The football crowds sing their hearts out because they love football. We do the same because we love Jesus and want to thank and praise him for freeing us from sin and death.
Everyone is welcome to watch football, and everyone is welcome to follow Jesus. There are no ‘outsiders’. Find us on a Sunday or speak to one of us any time, if you long to know more about this new life that he offers.