As Peter’s sermon, the 1st for the New Testament church, continues we saw how he was motivated by the inclusive Spirit in overcoming the barriers between man, he focuses on the message of the Exalted Son as the bedrock and foundation, and finally we see the key to a…
Satisfied Father— In 272 Words Lincoln stood for just under 3 minutes, staring out into the crowd, standing on the same, red-stained, war ravaged field that had been home to the atrocious and inconceivable horrors of war—the final resting place for over 8,000 men in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania he declared:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate – we cannot consecrate – we cannot hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
As Lincoln delivered his speech trying to honor those who had perished, Peter distinctly finished up his address trying to save those who were headed to death in their sin: Acts 2:36-38-36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
While Lincoln memorialized an event which God willing would never be repeated again, a piece of history, Peter highlighted a life-giving event which is meant be repeated each generation, a present reality! A reality that you can help bring to fruition by helping instill faith in your children, by being a friend who focuses on the eternal rather than the temporal, by being a neighbor that reaches out to those who are nearby you! That when Christ becomes the center of our life—when you decide to turn from sin—allowing his death, burial, and resurrection to stand in place of our death his full measure of devotion is not in vain, but instead Satisfies the Father!
Were these just words from Peter? Unlike Lincoln’s words which did nothing to change the reality of 8,000 dead, Peter’s words brought 3,000 to life! How did they embrace life through faith? In community-they brought the message of Christ together with the Messenger—and they followed Christ through baptism—going into the water—as he went into the grave, being raised up, as he was resurrected— they began a new relationship with the Father—a relationship which lifts the burdened, that sets free the condemned, that restores the dead, and as President Reagan said so eloquently, even in the face of tragedy, Christ gives us the ability like the astronauts abroad the Challenger who prepared to embark on a new and challenging journey waved goodbye as they –“slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.”
You tell me: Were they just words?