Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,
As I reflect on the awesome workings of the Spirit of God in the most recent evangelistic meetings, my thoughts bring me to one of the most celebrated sermons in the church age. This sermon, found in the book of Acts, was proclaimed by the apostle Peter, who had previously denied the Lord Jesus. Yet, now, he was boldly dispensing the truths of the Gospel, in the power of the Holy Spirit! As Peter concludes that Pentecostal proclamation, the Bible tells us, “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’?” If we take a close look at the context of Acts 2, we notice some vital truths about this message. Peter was no longer wielding the swords of men, but he was confidently wield-ing the Sword of God’s Word. There were no religious techniques and tactics used by Peter or the other disciples. There were no contemporary gimmicks and gadgets which have so thoroughly con-taminated the evangelical church today! These men of God had received power, because the Holy Spirit had come upon them. They trusted the reality that the Word of God is living, powerful, sharper than any 2-edged sword! They were convinced that only the Word of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, can lay open the true condition of a human heart. So, dear friend, when Peter preached the Word of Truth that day, he was not concoct-ing a sword of his own making. He was wielding the Sword of God’s Word, in the power of the Holy Spirit. This rugged fisherman possessed no unusual communication skills, nor did he hold theological degrees of any kind! What is even more amazing, is that when Peter approached the conclusion of his sermon, there is none of the psychological ploys or human manipulation that have plagued the modern church. He preached a plain message, a personal message, a practical message and an extremely powerful message, di-rectly from the Word of God! Friends, why was this message so effective? The Holy Spirit of God had baptized these disciples, in answer to their passionate and persevering prayers. There had been a long season of united, fervent and believing prayer, on the part of the entire church. Those believers were in one place, in one accord, with one heart and one mind. They were crying out to the Lord to send his blessings. Then, suddenly, the Holy Spirit came in mighty power upon them and baptized them with a fiery courage and compassion! This man, Peter, who had previously drawn man-made swords to fight for the Lord, was now drawing God’s ordained Sword, which each one of us are commanded to use for spiritual battle!
Peter mightily heralded the truth about the Person of Jesus; the sinfulness and rebellion of his au-dience; the work of Jesus in the cross and resurrection; and the Lordship of the ascended and en-throned Jesus! Upon hearing these truths, verse 37 tells us “they were cut to the heart”. The word ‘cut’ means to experience an anguish and an alarm in their souls. The Word of God had deeply penetrated into the inner core of their beings. The Holy Spirit, was powerfully planting the duels roots of conviction and contrition, which alone leads to authentic conversion. Peter’s audience suddenly realized their destitute and desperate condition before the Holy Lord God! They experienced that same sense of spiritual bankruptcy and holy mourning that the Philippian jailor knew, when he cried out to Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?”
Brother and sisters, there must be this piercing to the heart, at least to some degree, if there is going to be a genuine conversion of the life! There must be this penetrating conviction of the Holy Spirit, before there will be the cleansing from sin; and a covering of His righteousness. It has well been said that, “Conviction is the key in the hand of the Holy Spirit that opens the heart unto salvation”! Friends, did you notice when the Holy Spirit penetrated the hearts of this group of people, that Peter did not have to manipulate them in any way; nor did he have to pressure them with any humanistic techniques and tactics. Did you notice their response? And they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” They had come to the realization that they were poor, wretched, miserable, naked and blind. They were brought to the understanding that they had despised and even crucified the One, Who is the lover of their souls. They cried out in this holy anguish and alarm, “What shall we do, to acknowledge our rebellion? How can we amend our wicked ways? What must we do with this Jesus, whom God has made both Lord and Christ? Peter’s audience was experiencing the reality of the tremendous lyrics of John Newton:
Who fixed his languid eyes on me, as near His cross I stood
Sure never till my latest breath, can I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with his death, though not a word He spoke.
My conscience felt and owned the guilt, and plunged me to despair;
I saw my sins His blood has spilt, and helped to nail Him there.
Alas! I knew not what I did; but now my tears are vain;
Where shall my trembling soul be hid? For I the Lord have slain
A second look He gave, which said, I freely all forgive
This blood is for your ransom paid; I died that you may live!
The Holy Spirit had powerfully applied His Sword in an awesome manner, resulting in the sound conversions of 3,000 souls. These were not superficial professions of faith, which are so prevalent in today’s contemporary churches. These were people who were radically liberated and transformed, by the power of the Gospel! Oh that we might be energized by the Holy Spirit to live lives that are consumed with Jesus! Oh, that we might be willing to sacrifice and suffer for the extension of the Kingdom of God! Oh, that we might saturate our minds with the Sword of the Spirit!
We are filled with gratitude, as we approach this ‘Thanksgiving Holiday’. As we complete our 26th year of ministry, we are so thankful for the Lord’s mercy and grace toward us. We are absolutely amazed, when we think of all the various opportunities that He has given to us. We praise the Lord for your love, your prayers and your financial support of this ministry. Even this morning, as I was reading about Epaphras, who was a co-laborer with the apostle Paul, I began to think about those of you who co-labor with us. We are so thankful that the Lord has placed you in our lives, to help us carry out God’s great mission. We truly give thanks for your persistent prayers, your steadfast love and your gracious giving to this ministry. Please continue to pray for us. The annual conference for church-planters in Holguin, Cuba is quickly approaching. We have just received the license from the Dept. of Treasury today. We are excited about finishing this year with vigor, with excitement and with expectancy. We Love you and pray that you will know the blessings of Almighty God.
Ed & Dianne Lacy