In John chapter six we read of a miracle where Jesus feeds the five thousand with five barley loaves and two small fish, with twelve baskets of the barley loaves left over. The next day, the people went looking for Jesus, finding Him in Capernaum (v24). They asked Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” In the following couple of verses, Jesus says something rather interesting, which in part was, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life…” (v27). They then respond, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (v28). His answer, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (v28). The Greek word translated “work” means to toil, to act. Now we come again to Acts 2 where the Jewish people would be faced with a painful, yet hopeful truth. Their Messiah had come! And they put Him on a cross! What an emotional rollercoaster that must have been for so many. I can understand why many of them were “cut to the heart”; that is, I am pierced, stung, smitten. (Acts 2:37). Convinced now of this truth (Belief, i.e., faith), they ask an important question Peter and the other apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The ETRV says, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, which is guiding him into all truth, answer their question. It is his answer that we consider in part today.
“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized
in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38)
Many in the religious world struggle, if not downright disregard the act of water baptism. We will cover that soon. That said, those same people would never negate the necessary choice to repent. Exactly what is repentance and what does it look like? We gain a little insight when we read the ETRV of Acts 2:38, “Change your hearts and lives…”. The Greek word means to think differently or afterwards, i.e., consider. It is used in Luke 13:5 when Jesus exhorted His hearers to repent or likewise perish. Early in His ministry, Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). It was a central part of John the Baptist’s message (Matthew 3:2). It is used in Acts 3:19 by Peter after he spoke the gospel to them saying, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…”. So, what is repentance? One commentator writes, “Repentance implies sorrow for sin as committed against God, along with a purpose to forsake it.” Repentance is a choice rooted in the conviction of the cross of Christ, who He was and why man so desperately needs Him. It is a choice that moves the believer beyond a mere emotional response to the gospel, to a conscious decision that is now convicted that change is needed. Repentance is something you do, and it begins with a change of mind. But is it only an act of the mind?
As we saw in the beginning, one of the most important works (i.e., acts) of man is to believe if he or she desires eternal life. But is it the only act? Peter’s answer reveals that repentance is also needed; that is, a change of mind if you will. Is that it? What does repentance look like? Surely it would be evidenced in some fashion, however imperfectly it may be at first. The bible does give us some insight to help answer this question. In 2nd Corinthians 7:10, God provides us with some practical truths about repentance. First, it is driven by “godly sorrow” which takes place in the mind of the believer. Next, that sorrow “produces repentance” in the believer. That word “produces” comes from the same Greek word we find in John 6:28. This sorrow which has overcome the believer has a purpose; that is, to bring about repentance. As one commentator puts it, “A man who mourns over sin as committed against God, and who seek to God for pardon, will reform his life and truly repent.” There is no true repentance if it is only a change of mind, for if the mind truly changes, so will the direction of the one who has changed their mind. One person writes, “The predominantly intellectual understanding of metanoia as change of mind plays very little part in the N.T. Rather the decision by the whole man to turn round is stressed.” Once again, the simplicity of the ETRV brings this out, “The kind of sorrow God wants makes people decide to change their lives. This leads them to salvation, and we cannot be sorry for that.”
So, we go back to Acts chapter two and ask a very legitimate question, “What sort of repentance were they to offer after Peter had proclaimed to good news of Christ?” How would they change their lives? We know they believed and were cut to the heart. We know they desired to do what was right but were unsure what to do. Peter answered, first you need to repent. Change your mind about who Christ truly is, “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). You turned away from Him when you nailed him to the cross. Now, you need to turn towards Him and live for Him. That repentance will be evidenced in part, by your willingness to be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). For in that act of faith driven obedience, you are revealing that He truly is both Lord and Christ in your life.