Repent, Return and Be Refreshed

In every case of conversion, a change occurred, but in some cases the change was more apparent. Since change is what God expects in us (Rom 8:28-30; 12:1-2), what must we do to change? And, how can we help to change others too?

I.        CHARACTERS (Acts 3:1-3)

  • Victory: Peter and John (Acts 2:14-47 — Joel 2:28-32; Isa 2:1-4; Dan 2:44-45)
  • Defeat: Lame beggar (Luke 16:19-31; Mark 10:46-52)

II.        A CASE OF CHANGE

  • Focus: Name of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:4–6; — 2 Tim 2:14; 1 Cor 2:1-2)
  • Rely: Power of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:7–11)
  • Trust: Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:12-26 — Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:21)

III.        HOW TO CHANGE

  • Yourself: Stay alert to your greatest need (salvation, focus, rely, trust)
  • Others: Stay alert to their needs (body and spirit)

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

“Therefore, repent and return [be converted], so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

“Let Patience Have Its Perfect Work”

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Patience, a fruit of the Spirit, has been described as love and endurance under pressure. Patience is a characteristic that is longsuffering and does not retaliate; a willingness to wait; to expect; to hope for.

We are not born with patience. We need only to hear a baby cry for their immediate needs or hear a child selfishly say, “No!” or “Mine!”. However, it doesn’t take much insight to see that maturity and strength under pressure is much more difficult than it is to return evil for evil and be swift to strike back. It takes courage, strength, and love not to return injury and insult to others. An old Chinese proverb says: “Patience is power. With time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.” Patience is the ability to endure to the end.

Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that is to be demonstrated in our relationships with one another. Love suffers (endures) long, and we are called upon to be patient and forbearing with one another (1 Cor 13:4; Eph 4:2; Col 3:12). Love, with patience, hopes all things. Patience is not passive—it is consecrated active faith and strength.

The Hebrew writer tells us to run the race set before us with patience (Heb 12:1). Truly, life is much like a race, and patience keeps doing God’s will regardless of the difficulties or the discouragements. The New Testament word for patience means “to abide under.” We are reminded of the great patience of the prophets and Job in James 5:10-11. It does not suggest giving up, compromising, or becoming complacent. Patience is keeping the course despite our circumstances.

Patience has a calm anticipation of hope. The New Testament speaks of the patience of hope (Rom 5:4; 8:25). Hope produces patience. When we love and have hope in God, we are inclined to be more patient. If we believe in the promises of God, we can patiently wait for them. The hope, power, and blessings of the gospel fill us with patience.

Pessimism is often due to a lack of patience. We look around and see awful conditions and think God is too slow (read the book of Habakkuk as an example of this). Some lose their faith and hope, but true patience can wait, endure, and persevere. Let us not be like the one who prayed in this manner— “Lord, give me patience, and give it to me right now!” Therefore, LET PATIENCE HAVE ITS PERFECT WORK, that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing.” – By R. J. Evans

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

We currently live in a society where sinful conduct is actually glorified and rationalized. Satan tempts us through these views in addition to deceitful lusts and he is called “the god of this age who blinds the minds of those who do not believe” (2 Cor 4:4; Heb 3:13; 1 John 2:15-17). Yet Almighty God who is called the “God of truth” gives us a clear view of the effects of sin” (Isa 59:1-2; 65:16; John 14:6). Sin not only separates us from God, it leaves us “without hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12).

The good news is that God has made known the wonderful promise of forgiveness and salvation available to every person (John 3:16; Acts 3:19). It is unfortunate, however, that there is so much adverse teaching on how forgiveness comes. Religious feelings and prejudice can cloud human minds to the beautiful truth of God about forgiveness and any other Bible subject for that matter.

For example, you may have seen one or perhaps someone gave you a tract entitled “God’s Simple Plan of Salvation.” One such tract said one should pray the sinner’s prayer and ask Jesus to come into your heart. It is interesting to note that in the Bible, there is not one single person who was commanded to “pray the sinner’s prayer.” What is also interesting is that nearly all the conversions in the New Testament records people who were already religious. Consider these Bible examples: the birth of 3000 [spiritual] babies on Pentecost (Acts 2:37-41), others at Jerusalem (Acts 4:4; 5:14; 6:7), Samaria (Acts 8:5-13), the Eunuch (Acts 8:35-39), Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-30; 22:1-21; 26:12-18), Cornelius (Acts 10:34-48), at Antioch where the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:19-26), Lydia and her household (Acts 16:13-15), the Jailor and his family (Acts 16:30-34), the Corinthians (Acts 18:8), and the Ephesians (Acts 19). These examples suggest that one can be religious and yet not saved.

On baptism, the tract mentioned above stated, “You should be baptized in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ as a public testimony of your salvation, and then united with a Bible believing church without delay.” Nowhere in the Bible do you read that people were baptized or told to be baptized “as a public testimony of one’s salvation.” You do read in the Bible that baptism was for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), to wash away sins (Acts 22:16), to put one into Christ (Gal 3:27; 1 Cor 12:13), to put one into the kingdom (Col 1:13), to unite the sinner with the death of Jesus Christ (Rom 6:3-4), and for salvation (1 Pet 3:21; Mark 16:15-16). So, is baptism necessary to obtain forgiveness? Of course it is! The fact that it doesn’t fit into the doctrine of other religious bodies doesn’t change the Lord’s will and teaching.

The answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” is clearly set forth in Acts 16:30-34. Here is the phrase “to be saved” used in the sense of being rescued – rescued from sin and from Satan. Jesus did not come just to make the world a better place or to simply raise the standard of mankind’s moral concepts. As the Savior, Jesus came to rescue people from sin and the horrible punishment of hell! (Mat 1:21; Luke 19:10; 1 Tim 1:15; 1 John 4:14). Thanks be to God “that Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3) and that we have “redemption through His blood” (Eph 1:7). – By Joseph Casimier

Believing and Doing

Paul told Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Tim 4:16). Timothy’s manner of life, as well as his words, preached a message. What we believe and teach is important, but more important is what we practice.

For the Christian, two things must not be separated – sound teaching and a life consistent with that teaching. Paul told the Corinthians, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” (2 Cor 3:2-3). Andrew Harriston said, “The Christian’s life is the Lord’s audio-visual.” God does not need more preachers, but more practitioners; not more apostles, but more living epistles.

Is your faith based upon a proper understanding of God’s word? An affirmative answer to this question is still not enough. Thus, we add, Is your life’s practice consistent with your understanding of God’s word?” James said, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (Jas 1:25). Let us not only be diligent in learning the Lord’s will, but in doing what He has taught us. Jesus said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock…” (Matt 7:24). – By Richard Thetford

Hear Him!

Like it or not, Jesus Christ is God’s spokesman today. The Hebrews writer, attaches a series of phrases to the basic declaration, “God has spoken” (Heb 1:1). “In time past” tells us God has spoken before (recorded in the Old Testament). “In various times and in various ways” tells us He spoke in time past on multiple occasions, “to the fathers” (to different people like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses), “by the prophets” (through a variety of men who delivered God’s message). In verse two, a new time element is introduced: “In these last days” (the time of Christ), God has spoken, “to us,” which gives us a different audience, one that includes Gentiles also. God has spoken, “by His Son”, which gives us a different speaker. The way God spoke in times past has changed. He now only speaks through His Son Jesus Christ, which necessarily rules out the Law of Moses, visions, prophecies, and modern-day revelations.

We have the assurance that Jesus is God’s final spokesman by how He is characterized in verses 2 and 3: He has been, “appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds,” and is, “the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person.” He is, “upholding all things by the word of His power.” After having, “purged our sins, He has sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Jesus Christ, being God the Son, has all power and authority and is reigning right now in His kingdom (Matt 28:18; 1 Tim 6:15; Rev 1:9). We need to heed Him and Him only (Heb 2:1-3). In fact, the Holy Spirit inspired writer later declares, “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks” (Heb 12:25a). Will you hear Him or refuse Him? – By Shawn Smith