I still can’t get over the passage of scripture I had the chance to preach yesterday (Easter Sunday). If you have a chance, read over Acts 2:22-41. Epic! I guess we should expect nothing less from the first sermon ever recorded by a spirit-filled follower of Jesus.
One of my favorite parts of Peter’s message is when the people are cut the heart and ask,
“Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)
What a great question. They realize that the good news of the gospel demands some sort of response on their part. Whenever people understand the gospel, they recognize that it invites them to a new way of living.
Listen to the way Peter responds to this question. I think the answer we often hear is is somewhat different.  And Peter said to them,
“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. (Acts 2:38)
Mark records a similar thing in his gospel;
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,  and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)
Repent and believe! One of the things that has brought the most freedom in my life is this central and seemingly simplistic truth. Repentance is a change in mind (believe!) that leads to a change in direction.
The invitation of God is to repent and believe, not to repent and behave!
There is a HUGE difference there. The subtle message of much of Christianity is try harder to change your behavior. At it’s core, it is moralism. But here we see here that the invitation of God is far different. It’s to repent (change our mind) and believe. Believe truth. Believe we are forgiven. Believe that God is inviting us to a better way. Believe the gospel.
This is a ultra-pragmatic command. Here is what God knows about the way he wired humanity; we operate and make decision based on what we believe to be true and the things that have captured our affections. Sin, at it’s core is believing a lie or being drawn in worship to something that has captured our affections other than God. All sin can be summed up in either of those two wrong patterns of thought. See, God brings freedom to his people as they believe and worship him. As we believe and worship rightly, behavior naturally follows!
So, the glorious invitation of the gospel is: REPENT AND BELIEVE!