Each of you must repent of your sins
and turn to God, and be baptized
in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgivenessof your sins.
Then you will receive the gift
of the Holy Spirit.
--Acts 2:36

WHEN THE JEWSHEARD PETERpreaching on the Day of Pentecost after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, he boldly proclaimed, "Let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!" Peter's words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?"

The next words Peter utters are "the keys" for the entrance into God's kingdom for all the ages to come. These are the keys that Jesus promised to Peter when he recognized by a revelation from the Father that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus said to Peter, "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 16:19a).

Peter told those who were pricked to the heart by his preaching, "Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit"(Acts 2:36).

We know that to the repentant thief on the cross Jesus told him, "Today you will be with me in Paradise." He obviously did not have a chance to be baptized in water or to receive the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given.  A dying, repentant sinner as well as any person who repents from sin and turns to his life over to Jesus will be saved by the shed blood of Christ alone.

However, having said that, if you know and obey the truth, the truth will make you free. If you want to enter into the fulness of all that Jesus provided for you through His life, death, and resurrection, you must obey the teaching of the scripture. Peter gave the three foundations of New Testament Christian experience that will open the door to all God's fullness and abundant life here and now.

 The "Kingdom of heaven" or "the Kingdom of God" is a term that Jesus used interchangeably. Although heaven is the destination of the righteous, Jesus announced when He began to preach that the Kingdom of God had arrived. After His resurrection, He spent 40 days on earth explaining to His disciples everything about the kingdom of God and later spent three years with Paul after his conversion explaining these things.Paul tells that he received the gospel that he preached directly from the Lord.

The New Testament reveals the message. You can enter into the experience now of heaven on earth. You can know intimate fellowship with Jesus and realize His purpose for you. Jesus told his disciples "the kingdom of God " is within you.

 Here are the three keys given to Peter. As we study the early church in the book of Acts we find that they followed this pattern.

Key 1-Repent of your sins and turn to God.

Key 2-Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

Key 3-Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Key 1- Repent of Your Sins and Turn to God

Confess Your Sin

What does it mean to "repent of your sins and turn to God?" David said, "When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away,? and I groaned all day long.? Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat" (Ps. 32:3).

After a lot of suffering, guilt, and shame, David realized that he needed to confess his sin, not to man, but to God. He wrote, "Finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord' " (v4). After David had made his confession he said, "And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone"(v 5).

Forsake Your Sins and Obey God

According to Scripture, true repentance is not only confessing your sin to God, it is also forsaking your sin and turning to God to obey Him.

When King Saul disobeyed God, Samuel said to him, "Listen, obedience is better than sacrifice... Rebellion is the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is the sin of idolatry"(1 Sam. 15:22-23).

In Ezekiel the Lord said, " ‘If wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey My decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because they thought it over and decided to turn from their sins. Do you think that I like to see wicked people die?' says the Sovereign Lord. ‘Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live' " (Ezk. 18:21-23).
This is the Old Covenant standard of repentance. is the New Covenant standard any less?

In the Scriptures, God promises that that everyone who will keep His commandments will receive life and blessing. Disobedience to God's commandments brings a curse (Deut. 28). Before Moses death he exhorted Israel, "I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days" (Deut. 30:20).

Jesus extends this same promise of blessing. When the rich young ruler approached him and asked him what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus said to him, "If you wish to enter into life keep the commandments"( Matt. 19:16).

To Be Saved is to be a Sinner no More

To those who were claiming to be Christians at Corinth, but were living an ungodly lifestyle, Paul reinforced this biblical standard of repentance and obedience that brings God blessing: "Don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal 5:19-20, 1Cor. 6:9,18-20).

John agreed and said, "By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother" (1 John 3:10).

According to the Apostles and the Prophets and the Lord Himself, there is no such thing as a "saved sinner" who continues in sin. To be saved is to give up sin and be a sinner no more. There is no such thing as a true believer who is in rebellion against God. To submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is to give up your rebellion.

John gives us God's promise, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). So when we repent, we confess our sins to God, forsake our sin, and submit our life to Jesus as our Lord and King asking Him to be our Savior. Jesus promises to not only forgive us, but to also take our sins away and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb then we have been made holy by that same blood.

Obedience to God is the sign that you have truly repented. To the woman caught in adultery, Jesus forgave her, then he told her, "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11). Jesus said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me." Then Jesus promised great blessing saying, "He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him" (John 14:21).

So true repentance is not only telling God that we are guilty, it is forsaking sin and obeying God.

Sin is More Than Breaking God's Commandments

The prophet Isaiah explained the seriousness of sin saying, "It's your sins that have cut you off from God." (Isa. 59:2). Consequently, it is important to understand what sin really is because if we continue in sin we will be separated from God.

But what exactly is sin? Sin is obviously breaking God's commandments. The Ten Commandments are:
1. You shall have no other gods except me.
2.Don't make carved images to bow down and worship.
3. Don't take God's name in vain in curses or silly banter or use His name in an irreverent manner.
4. Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, six days you are to labor, but on the seventh do not work. Keep this day set apart for God.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6.Don't steal.
7. Don't commit adultery.
8.Don't murder.
9.Don't lie about your neighbor.
10.Don't covet your neighbor's house, wife or anything that belongs to him.
Jesus didn't do away with the Ten Commandments. In fact, He was so serious about these commandments that He pronounced judgment against those who taught people to break God's Law saying:

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:17-19). All sin carries with it the penalty of God's judgment.

However, Jesus taught that sin is more than outward actions and its presence is revealed in the attitudes and motives of the heart. Lust in the heart is adultery; anger in the heart is murder. We are not to hate our enemies but to love them (Matt. 5).

Paul lists the attitude of the heart where sin is ruling-sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Then he tells the Galatians how they can tell those who are true followers of Christ, "Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Gal. 5:19-21,24).

John explained it this way, "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever"(1 John 2:15-17).

True Repentance Shown by a Godly Lifestyle

There were those in the Corinthian church who thought it was enough to believe in Jesus and did not practice godly living. So there would be no doubt, Paul told the Corinthians that they could not continue in unrighteous living and still think that they were God's children. He gave them this remedy: "Come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord, "and do not touch what is unclean; and then I will welcome you. And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,' says the Lord Almighty" (2 Cor. 6:17-18).

True repentance is characterized by a changed lifestyle. Forsaking the sinful practices of the world is the condition that is laid out by the Apostle Paul for God receiving you as His child. While outward and inward sin and impurity mark the presence of sin in the soul, sin is much deeper than outward actions and heart attitudes and can be present in the morally upright as well as the wicked.

The Root of Sin-the Idolatry of Self

Since Adam and Eve made their break with the High Will of Heaven, sin has run through human nature like a gigantic fault line. Sin is revealed in my claim to my rights to myself.

In pride we have said, "I will." We have exalted ourselves above God. We have rebelled against God and have chosen to go our own stubborn, independent way. This is the root of sin that has broken our fellowship with God. We have taken the place as the ruler of our heart that belongs to God alone. We live our lives according to our own self-will. We follow our own plans and focus on our own self-interest.

Our stubborn opposition to God's laws of life often brings a sharp crisis in our affairs. We blame God for the circumstances that are the result of our own actions and then we cry out, "O God, why did you do this to me."

We demand that our wishes be satisfied. We seek to get ourselves in the highest position. We want to exercise control over other people. We want everyone to bow to our judgment and accept our declarations as law. We want power. We have a deep thirst for the recognition of our excellence we so desperately need in order to avoid despair. We seek the praise of others that belongs to God alone. We want to be popular. The idolatry of self is the sin of man. This is the true nature of evil.

Casting Down the Idol of Self

Jesus greatest rebukes were against those who loved to be called "Teacher" and looked for the place of honor at the banquets (Matt. 23). If we do this we are worshiping at the idol of self.

The truth is, Jesus said, "No wonder you can't believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don't care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God" (John 5:44). So according to Jesus as long as we are seeking to be noticed or approved of by men, seek to maintain our popularity and seek the honor of our friends, we can't even believe.

Know for certain that if you follow Jesus you will be persecuted for righteousness sake. This will cause you to compromise the gospel or stumble if you are still looking for man's approval. Jesus said, "You are blessed when men persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely because of me. They did the same thing to the Prophets" (Matt. 5:10-11).

He reminded us that if they persecuted Him, they will persecute you for "a servant can't be above His Master" (John 15:20). He reminded all who wanted to follow Him that we must love Him more than mother, father, sister or brother or we are not worthy of Him (Matt. 10:37). Consequently, Jesus told all those who wanted to be His followers to "sit down and count the cost"(Luke 14:26-28). Becoming a true Christian is not something to be entered into lightly.

Jesus did not come to just cut off branches, He came to lay the ax to the root of sin. To all those who want to follow Him down through the ages, He extends a conditional invitation, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, you must deny yourself, and take up your cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matt.16:24-25).

Jesus' call deals with the three aspects of the root of self-idolatry:

1. Deny yourself- no longer living to please yourself.
2. Take up your cross-the cross is a place of death to the approval and opinions of others.
3. Follow Me-Giving the energies and purposes of your life to do God's will and follow the leadership of His Spirit.

Once you wake up and realize that you are in the pigpen caused by sensuous and riotous living, or you are simply lost, or in a prison of your own making without hope and without God in the world, do as the prodigal son in Jesus' parable. He said, "I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against without hope and without God heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.'

"So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. The father put a robe around him and put sandals on his feet and made a feast to celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found'"(Luke 15:22-24).

Made Free from Sin

John the Baptist announced who He was: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; and he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God shall remain on him" (John 3:36).

Jesus came to not just forgive sins, he came to bring a real deliverance from sin-the old Adamic nature called in the Bible the "heart of stone." Jesus came to take away sins--the old sinful self-nature that came down to all mankind at the fall.

However, the old man must die before the new man can be born. We must let go of the old so we can receive the new. Jesus came to establish His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven by establishing His throne in the hearts of all who will receive Him. Jesus came to start the human race over again--to bring forth many sons and daughters in His image by giving them a brand new heart, and a brand new nature, which would be engraved with God's law so that it would be natural to obey them. This is the promise of the New Covenant(Heb. 10:15-17).

This is the new birth Jesus promised and the abundant life--a life of peace, love and joy that nothing in this world can give or take away. At the center of this new nature, Jesus promised to place a fountain of living water, a great well of life gushing up within to flow out as a river to touch the world. This is the Holy Spirit that He promised to give. The first key to entering into the kingdom of God and receiving this new life is to truly repent and turn to God, accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and crown Him in your heart as the reigning King.

carlwifef.jpg"Bob and Rose Weiner are, in the truest sense of the term,

movers and shakers around the world. They move whole nations through their powerful faith ministry. They also ignite faith in others. Their ministry in Russia and China is the stuff of which legends are made. It is a special privilege to know them."

--Dr. Carl Richardson, International Evangelist

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