A Heart of Obedience
The first and fundamental difference between the church of the first century and the church of the twenty-first century is that the early Christians proclaimed and practiced the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Peter began his great sermon in Acts 2 by quoting Joel from the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Joel prophesied that in the last days God would pour out His Spirit, and that “whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord” would be saved. Then Peter quotes David to show that Jesus is now at God’s right hand. The conclusion was clear: “Jesus is both Lord and Christ” (v. 36).
No clearer illustration of the importance of the Lordship of Jesus Christ in Christian preaching can be found than in this passage. Among the earliest believers, Lordship was at the heart of the Christian Gospel. It was not an afterthought or an addendum, and most certainly not an option. The mistake that is commonly made today is to suppose that one can receive Jesus as Savior without confessing Him as Lord. This is a fatal mistake. I would add that it is in the light of this great affirmation of Jesus’ Lordship that v. 38 is to be understood. A genuine invitation to come to Christ as Lord always involves a call for repentance: “Repent and be baptized – every one of you!”
Many of us need this reminder today. For not only are we caught up in the “church growth” conception, or misconception, of what the church is; we feel that, for the glory of God (and also, though we do not admit it, for our own reputations) it is necessary for us to claim that we are already obedient to the teaching of God’s Word. We feel sure that we understand all His ways and take it for granted that He approves all of our programs. This comfortable pretence makes it difficult for us to acknowledge where we have fallen short, to repent, and to return to the true wisdom of the Scriptures.
We can make no headway, then, without a heart of obedience. When we read the Book of Acts we need to remember that God is still true to all His promises, demands, and statements of purpose that are addressed to New Testament believers. God does not exist for our gratification, regardless of how many times we recite the prayer of Jabez. We exist to glorify Him and to advance His kingdom throughout the earth.
In a day when men’s hearts fail them for fear and we are so heart-conscious physically, we had better have a check-up of our hearts in the sight of God.
November 16, 2006
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.