Acts 3:19-20 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus.”
In English I was going to go with just verse 19, but then I realized that in Japanese, the “times of refreshing” part is in verse 20, and that actually gave me further insight. We are prone to focus on things in this life, which is why “times of refreshing” sounds so nice. However the Bible is very clear that the “final fix” isn’t going to come until Christ returns, so that should be our focus. Times of refreshing are nice indeed, but they are temporary, just as Lazarus’ resurrection was temporary. (John 11) We tend to forget that he eventually died again! The ultimate solution to all the world’s problems comes only with Christ’s return to reign over everything. That’s not at all to say that we aren’t to fight evil right now. We are Christ’s representatives in the here-and-now, (2 Corinthians 5:20) and “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (1 John 3:8) We cannot be saved by politicians, but we are to be active in promoting Biblical principles and policies in government. We cannot eliminate poverty or suffering, but we can be God’s agents toward that end. That said, we are not to be discouraged by the minimal results of our own efforts, because Jesus is the ultimate “clean-up batter,” and He’s going to hit it out of the park. To continue that analogy, we just need to work to keep the bases loaded. We do need to remember that all of this is predicated on our own personal repentance. This was an extremely hard-hitting sermon by Peter, and he pulled no punches. He had no idea of “political correctness,” and he wouldn’t have cared if he had! Too often we let the devil trick us into being mealy-mouthed, worrying more about offending people than whether they are going to get saved. Peter is an excellent example for us, because he was a deeply flawed individual (as we all are) and he made lots of mistakes (as we all do) but he was totally committed to Jesus Christ as Lord, as we all should be.
I have always been encouraged by Peter, and I need to keep learning from him. Japanese culture cares intensely about “not rocking the boat.” That seems to have rubbed off on me, and I have “tempered my words” more than I should have many times when presenting the Gospel. I need to remember that the Gospel of repentance and faith is disruptive, period, so I shouldn’t be so afraid of offending. I’m not to offend needlessly, (Romans 12:18) but I am to be unapologetic about the fact that salvation is found in Christ alone. (Acts 4:12) My job is to call people to repentance and faith, not to make them feel good about themselves. Too often we offer “palliative care” when a cure is available! I am to remember that my Lord is returning, and I am to call everyone to get right with Him before they meet Him in judgment.
Father, thank You for this call to action. Help me follow through, not just thinking this was a nice devotional time but actually allowing You to change my lifestyle. I ask for wisdom and boldness, because the people around me have no foundation, no frame of reference, to receive the Gospel. I pray that Your Spirit would have total control over my words and actions, so that the lying barriers of the devil may be shattered and people set free to repent and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!