As I reflect on the powerful activities of our gracious God, since our last newsletter, I cannot help but think of Acts 2:36-37, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were CUT TO THE HEART, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” This text is taken from the initial ‘public preaching of the Gospel’ at Pentecost, following our Lord’s ascension to the right hand of the Majesty on high. This glorious event was a sort of ‘first fruits’ of the mighty Gospel advance, which was soon to follow. The mighty power of the Spirit of God had transformed Peter, this ‘formerly ostentatious windbag’, into a powerful and passionate preacher of the Word of truth. The Lord Jesus had promised those original disciples that, “They would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them; and they would be witnesses unto the Lord Jesus Christ”. And beloved, this is precisely what occurred! If you pay careful attention to that inaugural message, from which these verses are taken, you will discover that Peter did not approach his first Gospel audience with ‘flashy rhetorical skills or with words of fleshly wisdom’. Peter proclaimed a message that centered on the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus. Moreover, Peter prosecuted his audience concerning sin, righteousness and judgment to come. This ‘Spirit-filled’ fisher of men shot the arrows of ‘both the bad news and the good news’ directly into the hearts of his Jewish audience. For it was his singular passion to see each soul in this Pentecostal congregation express “genuine repentance towards God and saving faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ”. It must have been quite amazing to observe this uneducated fisherman, who was now being moved along by the Spirit of God, to preach with courage, clarity and compassion. Oh friend, this is the same man who had vacillated between ‘drawing a sword to fight for the Lord in one instance, to denying the Lord before a lowly servant girl’ in another. Oh but now, Peter was boldly heralding the Gospel message with a supernatural combination of both fearlessness and forcefulness!
As Peter proclaimed this ‘Christ-Centered, Word-saturated and Spirit-empowered’ message to this Jewish audience, the scriptures inform us his hearers were “pierced to the heart”! The Holy Spirit infused the message with such a supernatural demonstration of power, that 3,000 Jews were sharply pierced to the very core of their beings. These human hearts, (which were deceitful above all things and desperately wicked), were mightily cut to the quick by the Spirit of God. For the Holy Spirit had taken His ‘Gospel bow in hand’, and powerfully aimed each arrow of the proclamation of “words concerning the Lord Jesus Christ”. The Spirit of God successfully hit the bull’s eye in the hearts of 3,000 needy sinners. Each one of these sinner’s inner conscience was so profoundly pierced, that they were brought ‘face to face’ with the startling reality that they were destitute and desperate sinners, who were lost in their sins and deserving of the just wrath of God! This was far more than a mere mental assent and verbal agreement to the fact that each person was a sinner. On the contrary, the Spirit of God planted the roots of conviction and contrition in their hearts, which resulted in ‘godly sorrow’ producing repentance leading to salvation!
In agony and blood; He fixed His eyes on me, as near the Cross I stood.
Oh, can it be upon the tree, the Savior died for me?
My soul is thrilled, my heart is filled, to think He died for me.
My conscience felt and owed the guilt, and plunged me in despair;
I saw my sin His blood had spilt, and helped to nail Him there.
Oh, can it be upon the tree, the Savior died for me?
My soul is thrilled, My heart is filled, To think He died for me!
Beloved brothers and sisters, this profound passage informs us that, a saving response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ always commences with this powerful penetration of Spirit-induced conviction and contrition in the heart’. Proverbs 20:12 informs us that, ‘The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.’ Romans 10:17 adds that, ‘Saving faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the words concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.’ (Continued) “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ”. Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Have you ever considered the fact that the human eye has been created for two purposes? The eye has been formulated by Almighty God both to look with and to weep with! When the Holy Spirit reveals the truth that God the Son was pierced for an individual’s transgressions, that sinner will be pierced to the heart with conviction and contrition. When anyone is powerfully awakened to the truth that Jesus Christ was crushed for their iniquities, that sinner will be crushed with a sorrow over the truth that the Lord was bearing their sins in His body on the tree! For where there is a saving sight of Jesus, (with the eyes of faith), there will be an accompanying godly sorrow which produces repentance. “They will look on Him (whom their sins have pierced) and they will mourn.” Brethren, nothing wounds the heart of a sinner like the dying love of Jesus Christ on the Cross! Furthermore, nothing heals the hopelessly wicked heart of a sinner like a ‘saving look at the Cross of our Lord and Savior’. John Newton penned these powerful words many years ago,