“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your
children, and for all who are far away, everyone
whom the Lord our God calls to him.”
–Acts 2:38-39

Acts 2:14-40

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Jesus’ promise to the disciples was that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them and they will be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

The first half of this promise is fulfilled in verses 1-13 when each and every one of the disciples is filled with the power of the Spirit. The second half of the promise is fulfilled in Peter’s sermon to the crowd.

What was the first apostolic sermon?

Peter simply told the story of Jesus’ life (v.22), his death (v.23), his resurrection (v.24), and his exaltation (v.33). His summed up his the whole message with these words:

“Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

When the crowd heard the story of Jesus, it says they “were cut to the heart.” They realized that the story of God’s mighty acts in Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and exaltation required a response. “What should we do?” they cried.

How about you? What is your response?

The easy thing to do today would be to read this passage and say, “Yes, yes, I know all that.”

The harder thing to do, something we are unable to do on our own, something we can only do in response to the Spirit working in our lives, is being cut to the heart and know our need for forgiveness.

To be cut to the heart is becoming keenly aware of our faults and failings and being heartbroken from the pain we have inflicted on ourselves and others. But true repentance is not wallowing in faults and feeling bad about ourselves. True repentance is making the changes needed to realign our hearts and lives with God.

And when we repent from the heart, we too will experience both the forgiveness of our sins and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. For this is God’s promise for everyone whom the Lord calls.

Today, if you are willing, ask God to “cut you to the heart” and give you a keen awareness of the ways your sins are barriers to God’s love flowing through your life and into the world.

If you’re not willing, you may want to spend some time asking yourself why.

If you are willing, you may want to use this Prayer of Confession from The Book of Common Prayer :

Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep,
we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts,
we have offended against thy holy laws,
we have left undone those things which we ought to have done,
and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
spare thou those who confess their faults,
restore thou those who are penitent,
according to thy promises declared unto mankind
in Christ Jesus our Lord;
and grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
to the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

After you have prayed, ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit so that God’s love can flow through you and you can be a witness to the risen Jesus.