KEY: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” = Acts 2:36
In our walk with God by grace on earth, discipleship and renewal are essential themes.
When by grace we faithfully disciple others – discipling one another or new believers – we ourselves are renewed in grace and faith/faithfulness.
Then, being renewed in grace and faith/faithfulness – we are all the more empowered, equipped, and enthused to discipleothers faithfully.
These interlinked truths of discipleship and renewal are so essential that they were profoundly shaping the style, substance, and success of our brothers and sisters in Christ at the very Birthday of the Church – at powerful Pentecost that we very recently celebrated. There Peter’s message was pointed because he was discipling others, and it was passionate because Peter himself was now renewed in Godly faith and grace.
The Church was birthed (1) by the work of Jesus – his teachings, miracles, death for us, and resurrection – and also (2) by the awesome supernatural gift of Jesus’ Spirit, the Holy Spirit, into the original 120 believers – and (3) in the grace-filled timing, divine guidance, and living presence of God the Father. This Divine working created exemplary models of both discipleship and renewal.
We see these in the style and content of Peter’s Bible-based sermon at Pentecost – with about 30% of his message as direct quotes from the Hebrew Scriptures! Peter’s passionate message – partially recorded in Acts 2 – paid off measurably in at least 3,120 lives – the original 120 disciples, men and women who had been praying for days, and the additional 3,000 who had been added by the end of the day.
There were many positive factors in Peter’s message – including three effective qualities from which we can all learn.
1. Style: Confidence in God – Peter lost the guilt for his denials of Jesus. He gained and experienced God’s grace, God’s favor. God’s grace-filled actions are Peter’s focus – including eight (8) specific comments about God’s track-record of grace – especially four times in 2:22-24 and another four times in 2:30-36.
a. All of us are flawed instruments
b. God’s actions are the Story. This is a “Copernican Revolution” from Peter’s recent faithless self-centeredness, even narcissism.
c. By or on Pentecost, Peter is healed – fully restored from his profound doubts and personal denials.
d. He is renewed in the profound commitment he made when he walked away from his boat and nets to become a “fisher of people” [Luke 5:1-11].
Peter’s personal grace-driven renewal is the key to his transformative discipleship of 5,120 others now. This is a new Peter, born from above, by God’s amazing grace.
2. Substance: Conviction of the Gospel – Peter knew what he had to communicate, and spoke straight from his grace-transformed heart and from God’s faithful Scriptures.
a. In 2:23 – Peter is not shy. He boldly links to his audience’ former actions
b. In 2:25-35 – Peter appeals to David, an intensely influential exemplar for Peter’s human audience.
c. In 2:32 – Peter also witnesses to the grace-in-action that he and others also personally saw and experienced
In 2:36, Peter concludes his message with a great PARADOX about Jesus that he had affirmed at least once before [Matt. 16:13-16]. Peter boldly says this great Gospel truth about Jesus. He says it strait. No mousiness. Peter’s discipleship of others is further fueling his own extraordinary personal renewal of Godly grace and Gospel faith.
3. Success: Connection between God and the People – Peter focused totally on both God and the people, and he connected well with both of these precious audiences.
a. In 2:37 – the people ask the absolute key question: What shall we DO?
b. In 2:38 – Peter gives the absolute key answer: “Repent and be baptized” – expressing your sincerely transformed mind and heart in joyful obedience: Celebrate the Gospel in baptism and enjoy the Lord in the positive living of uplifting grace-guided repentance.
Expect the best from people and treat them well. Peter sees well beyond the people’s “sculpted dirt” beginnings [Genesis 2:7] – and offers people the new life-breath of the Holy Spirit. Peter also gives the people hope: Everyone looks for hope, but Godly leaders have the calling/skill/gift to share the transformative hope that all people most deeply desire.
In his faithful discipleship, Peter helps many people open their hearts for their renewal of their divinely-empowered humanity, receiving the Holy Spirit [Genesis 2:7 and Acts 2:38-39].
Fueled by his own grace-filled renewal, Peter was faithful – and God was definitively, Divinely faithful – in one of the most exemplary and engaging discipleship events of all time.
CONCLUSION: Let our own hearts and minds and bodies be uplifted and guided by the Scripture and the Spirit again today into deeds of sincere repentance and joyful obedience. Peter’s message was pointed, because he was honoring Jesus’ Great Commission to “disciplepeople of all ethnicities.” Peter’s leadership was passionate, because he was personally renewed by the fullness of the Gospel he had experienced.
In the renewal of God’s amazing grace in our lives, may we draw others into Godly discipleship.
In our discipleship of others, may we each be powerfully renewed in God’s amazing grace and respond in grace-empowered faith/faithfulness.