One Living Hope

A Healthy Church is a Church that Repents (Acts 2:14-41)

By Alvin Varughese


–          Growing up, our church met in a local Lutheran church we rented

  • It has a giant pipe organ, stained glass windows, and these padded footrests! – Kneeling benches

–          Certainly, prostrateness and kneeling are associated with repentance

–          Some Christians may think, “Do we need to repent?”

  • We’ve believed in Jesus and accepted him
  • I’m not supposed to dwell on my sin – I have victory in Jesus!
    • Where’s the assurance? What about grace?

–          I don’t want you to be confused – Only Jesus saves you! Let me explain:

  • Salvation is not a matter of believers trying to confess and repent from every sin they commit before they die. Salvation is not based on whether a Christian has confessed and repented of every sin. Yes, we should confess our sins to God as soon as we are aware that we have sinned. However, we do not always need to be asking God for forgiveness. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, all of our sins are forgiven. That includes past, present, and future, big or small. Believers do not have to keep asking for forgiveness or repenting in order to have their sins forgiven. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and when they are forgiven, they are all forgiven (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43). What we are to do is confess our sins: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). What this verse tells us to do is “confess” our sins to God. The word “confess” means “to agree with.” When we confess our sins to God, we are agreeing with God that we were wrong, that we have sinned. God forgives us, through confession, on an ongoing basis because of the fact that He is “faithful and just.” How is God “faithful and just”? He is faithful by forgiving sins, which He has promised to do for all those who receive Christ as Savior. He is just by applying Christ’s payment for our sins, recognizing that the sins have indeed been atoned for. At the same time, 1 John 1:9 does indicate that somehow forgiveness is dependent on our confessing our sins to God. How does this work if all of our sins are forgiven the moment we receive Christ as Savior? It seems that what the apostle John is describing here is “relational” forgiveness. All of our sins are forgiven “positionally” the moment we receive Christ as Savior. This positional forgiveness guarantees our salvation and promise of an eternal home in heaven. When we stand before God after death, God will not deny us entrance into heaven because of our sins. That is positional forgiveness. The concept of relational forgiveness is based on the fact that when we sin, we offend God and grieve His Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). While God has ultimately forgiven us of the sins we commit, they still result in a blocking or hindrance in our relationship with God. A young boy who sins against his father is not cast out of the family. A godly father will forgive his children unconditionally. At the same time, a good relationship between father and son cannot be achieved until the relationship is restored. This can only occur when a child confesses his mistakes to his father and apologizes. That is why we confess our sins to God—not to maintain our salvation, but to bring ourselves back into close fellowship with the God who loves us and has already forgiven us.


–          A Healthy Church is a church that responds to God in genuine repentance

Context of Passage:

–          The Holy Spirit has come and the Spirit-filled Christians began to speak in tongues

  • The Jews began to hear the crowd speaking in their own languages
  • They thought they were drunk!

–          Peter responds with a sermon, the first in a series of speeches and discourses we’ll see throughout Acts

  • This sermons was aimed at the Jewish audience in Jerusalem


–          As a sermon to Jews it consists primarily of scriptural proofs:

  • vv. 14–21interpret the miracle of tongues as a fulfillment of Joel 2:28–32
    • “The Lord Will Pour Out His Spirit “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.”
  • Acts 2:22–36 presents Christ as Messiah in fulfillment of Ps. 16:8–11
    • “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
  • and Ps. 110:1
    • “The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
  • and Acts 2:37–41 concludes the sermon with a call to repentance and baptism
    • There also is an allusion to Ps. 132:10
      • “For the sake of your servant David, do not turn away the face of your anointed one.”
      • which itself alludes to 2 Sam. 7:6–16.
        • “I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”

–          Peter uses Scripture to explain what is happening at the Spirit has come upon the Christians in Jerusalem

–          So what brings us to Repentance?

  1. I.       The Truth of Scripture bring us to Repentance (vv.14-21)

–          A crowd had gathered at this point due to the outbreak of tongues

  • Peter took advantage of this useful opportunity to address the crowd
    • Remember, this was the Peter the zealot, the one who was looking for the political Messiah, who was not afraid to brandish the sword, but became a coward and denied Christ
    • But at this point, Peter was reinstated by Jesus, charged with a Great Commission, as was now full of the Holy Spirit
      • It is a mark of his transformation from zealot to disciple when at the end of his sermon, “Repent and be baptized”
      • As far as Peter had come, he would still need to grow and mature and be transformed
        • Acts 15 – Jerusalem Council

–          He begins by dispelling the notion that these people were drunk – it was too early in the morning for them to have drunk that much! (v14-15)

–          Next, he explains something very important, the prophecy from Joel (v17-21)

  • Joel prophesied of what would take place in the last days
  • Peter’s quotation of his prophecy means that these days, the days of fulfillment of God’s purpose, have arrived
    • The prophets of old wrote and spoke about the one who was to come and bring God’s salvation
    • Peter is saying that time is now!

–          The sign of the age to come is the presence of the Spirit

  • In Joel, the call was to repentance of divine forgiveness (Joel 2:12-14)
    • This is echoed by Peter later at the end of his sermon (v38)
  • Joel says that God’s Spirit will be poured out on all flesh
    • This is an allusion to the Gentile mission that would be fulfilled later
  • * Let me make a comment here about tongues *
    • I believe that the manifestation of tongues is to fulfill this prophecy and to demonstrate to the Jerusalem church that salvation was for all people
      • The Spirit being poured out on the apostles and manifesting in tongues was for a Gentilic-missional purpose
      • Remember, the proclamation and advancement of the Gospel is always the purpose in everything God bestows upon the Church

–          The mention of the wonders in heaven above and signs on the earth below were witnessed on Good Friday

  • These were signs of the day of the Lord, a day of judgment in Revelation, but here a day of God’s salvation to all who believe in His name

–          For a Church to be a Healthy Church, the truth of Scripture should always bring us back to repentance

  • The Gospel is clean: repent and believe!
  1. II.    The Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus brings us to Repentance (v.22-36)

–          Peter continues his sermon by giving his main theme:

  • The proclamation of Jesus as Lord and Messiah (v22-28)

–          He summarizes the story of Jesus:

  • God was behind all the signs and wonders, the mighty works, because Jesus was God
    • As Luke stated in Luke 7:16, “God has visited his people”

–          He also makes it clear that even though the Romans crucified Jesus, it was the Jews and their leaders that handed him over

  • However, he says that God turned the tables when he raised Jesus from the dead
    • All of this was done to fulfill prophecy
      • It was God’s divine purpose that the Messiah should suffer
  • While the guilt of those who handed Jesus over to death or carried out the sentence is pointed out, the way to the removal of their guilt and assurance of pardon
    • That is the beauty of repentance!
      • We need to know the gravity of our situation so we can know the incredible amazing grace that saves us!

–          Peter goes on to make clear that Jesus is Lord and Messiah (v29-36)

  • Everyone knew that the patriarch King David lived, dies, and was buried
    • Likewise, Jesus lived, died and was buried, but he was risen
      • Peter is saying that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to David in Psalm 132, that one of his descendants would reign on his throne forever
      • The Jewish people were greatly anticipating the Davidic Messiah
  • Jesus is now in heaven and the promised Holy Spirit who Jesus said would come after him has come, as seen with the tongues
    • This fulfilled Psalm 110:1, further affirming Jesus as the Messiah
      • For Jesus to be at the right hand of God, it was a position of supremacy over the universe

–          The good news has been proclaimed: the witness of the apostles and the testimony of prophecy have combined to give assurance of the truth of the proclamation (v36)

  • The attested facts point to one conclusion: God has made the crucified Jesus both Lord and Messiah
    • For Jesus to be Lord, it meant that he was the bearer of the name above all names
      • In Greek, this was Christos – Jesus, the Christ
      • When the Jews heard Lord, they would make a direct connection to the Old Testament name of God, Yahweh, or Adonai
        • The claim here was astounding!
      • Joel 2:32: “All who call on Yahweh’s name will be saved”

–          What if you have already accepted Christ?

  • Hear this thought from Pastor R.C. Sproul:
    • “We do, of course, continue to sin. Satan, the accuser, delights to make much of this. He loves to rub our faces in our sins, to tell us that sinners such as we surely cannot be saved. If our response to this kind of assault is to deny the reality of our sin, he wins. If our response on the other hand is to wallow in our sin, he wins. The right response is, “I am a sinner. Worse even than you know Satan. But my Father sees me as pure and whole, a spotless bride, because He has dressed me in the perfect righteousness of His Son.” Telling the devil, “No, I am good” invites more attack. Telling the devil, “Yes, I am evil” only invites more attack. Telling the devil, “Jesus is righteous and I am in Him” will make him flee. When we diminish our sin, we foolishly rest in ourselves. When we despair in our sins we foolishly diminish His grace. Our calling is to own our sin, to plum its depths, but then to know that God’s grace in Christ is greater still. Deep sorrow and repentance followed by deep confidence in His grace will lead to deep and immovable joy. Continue to repent. We do so not because our future sins are not forgiven, but so that we might nor presume upon that grace, that we might rejoice in our forgiveness. Let us all, however, also continue to repent for our unbelief in His grace. When God says “I forgive you and I love you” to respond “I don’t believe you” is pure folly, To respond “I’m not worthy” is to belabor the obvious. To respond “Thank you” is to grasp the Good News.”

–          For a Church to be a Healthy Church, the Atonement should bring us to repentance…because Jesus is Lord and Messiah!

III. The Promise of Forgiveness brings us to Repentance (vv.37-41)      

–          Peter’s preaching was used by God in not only persuading the hearers’ minds but convicting their consciences (v37)

  • If Jesus was indeed their appointed Messiah, then no guilt could be greater than the guilt of treating him as they did
    • If they rejected Jesus, what hope was there for them now?
      • The brokenness in their response to this convicting truth is evident when they say, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

–          Peter instills hope at a time when they were seemingly without hope (v38)

  • Repent of their sin and turn to God; submit to baptism in the name of Jesus, confessed as Messiah
    • By doing this, they not only would receive forgiveness of sins, but they would also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
  • Hear this Puritan Prayer from the Valley Of Vision – “God And Myself”
    • “Lord God Almighty, Thy understanding is unsearchable and infinite, Thy arm cannot be stayed, Thy agency extends through limitless space, All works hang on thy care, With thee time a present now. Holy is thy wisdom, power, mercy, ways, works. How can I stand before thee with my numberless and aggravated offences? I have often loved darkness, observed lying vanities, forsaken thy given mercies, trampled underfoot the beloved Son, mocked thy providences, flattered thee with my lips, broken thy covenant. It is of thy compassion that I am not consumed. Lead me to repentance, and save me from despair, Let me come to thee renouncing, condemning, loathing myself, (my sin) but hoping in the grace that flows even to the chief of sinners. At the cross may I contemplate the evil of sin, and abhor it, look on Him whom I pierced, as one slain for me, and by me. May I never despise His death by fearing its efficacy for my salvation. And whatever cross I am required to bear, let me see Him carrying a heavier. Teach me in health to think of sickness, in the brightest hours to be ready for darkness; in life prepare me for death. Thus may my soul rest in thee, O immortal and transcendent One, revealed as thou art in the Person and work of thy Son, the Friend of sinners”

–          Repentance: A complete change of heart, a spiritual about-face

  • A call to baptism accompanied by a call to repentance, just as John the Baptist preached
    • Baptism was a outward sign of their repentance
  • PR already spoke about the baptism of the Spirit last week, so I won’t go into that again
    • I just want to point out here that gift of the Spirit is to be distinguished from the gifts of the Spirit
      • The gift of the Spirit is the Spirit himself, sent by Jesus under the Father’s authority, to all believers
      • The gifts of the Spirit are those spiritual faculties which the Spirit imparts, different ones given to believers according to God’s will

–          The promise of the gospel is extended to all people, now present and future generations (v39)

  • The implication here is the inclusion of Gentiles also

–           Many were added that day – they repented (v41)

–          For a Church to be a healthy Church, the Promise of Forgiveness should bring us to Repentance


–          Jesus calls us to repent and invites us to salvation

  • Repentance is one of the marks of a follower of Christ and a Healthy Church

–          Listen to what Tim Keller has said in an article titled “All of Life is Repentance”

  • “Repentance is the way we make progress in the Christian life. Indeed, pervasive, all-of-life-repentance is the best sign that we are growing deeply and rapidly into the character of Jesus.”

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