Acts 2:14, 36-41 - But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words .... Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized 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. 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." And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
It's a good thing Peter wasn't preaching in front of a crowd of Lutherans that day! For he says a lot of things that make us feel very awkward. To the question, "What shall we do?" Peter does not say, "Sit back and relax, the Holy Spirit will do everything." No, he says, "Repent and be baptized ... Save yourselves from this crooked generation." And right away our ears prick up and we think, "Wait a minute! Isn't it true that God does all the saving, and our own efforts are no use at all?"
Well, of course. And Peter knows that. He is an apostle, after all! But he is using what some people call "Gospel imperatives"—words that say "do this" and "do that," but in fact the action—and the credit!—is still all with God.
Let's take an example of the same thing from Jesus' own mouth. Standing at His friend's tomb, Jesus calls out, "Lazarus, come out!" Now that is not at all a sensible thing to say. A dead man cannot hear or respond. And yet it happens—because the Holy Spirit has restored Lazarus to life and action.
This is a great picture of what the Holy Spirit does for us and for all people who are spiritually dead and come to faith in Jesus. He gives us life, plants faith in our hearts, and makes us God's children through Baptism. Peter may be addressing the listeners, but he knows perfectly well who's doing all the work. And so do we—the same God who created us, suffered, died, and rose for us, and planted living, saving faith in our hearts.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank You that You have done for me what I could not do for myself, and have made me Your own living, believing child. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Have you ever talked to someone who cannot respond to you? When and why?
2. Why do you think people talk this way—giving orders to babies, to people on TV, to loved ones who are absent but on their minds?
3. When did God bring you into His kingdom and make you His child?
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