My trip to Israel and this summer in CPE derailed my participation in #LukeActs2014. So, here I am jumping back on the bandwagon.
Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead — whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:29-32, NIV)
As I was reflecting on this gospel message, I was struck by the depiction of Jesus’ work as ongoing. Here we do not get the emphasis on the cross as the place of forgiveness. Jesus was killed, but when Peter starts talking about forgiving sins, he is speaking of what sounds like in this English translation an ongoing activity. He brings us to repentance and forgives our sins because he is the Prince and Savior of the world.
I am reminded of all those sins he forgave before he was crucified.
Peter does not seem to be operating out of any of our widely discussed atonement theories here.
I note as well in this passage how Peter begins and ends with obedience to God. We must obey. Only those who obey receive the Holy Spirit.
It sets my heart to wondering exactly what that obedience looks like. In Acts 5, we certainly get some powerful indications of what apostolic obedience looks like. We get Ananias and Sapphira opening the chapter and the persecuted apostles returning again and again to the temple courts to teach in the name of Jesus despite floggings and arrests. We get the report that the apostles rejoiced that they were worthy of suffering for the name of Jesus.
That is just a taste of what obedience looks like, but how mighty a challenge it is to my frail resolve.
I got some bad news this week about my future ministry plans. It was nothing like being flogged or thrown in jail, but it put me in low spirits. It got me down. I was not celebrating and rejoicing because I was worthy to suffer.
I need the apostles before me to remind me what it looks like to be the church.
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. (Acts 5:42, NIV)