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What Shall We Do?

Scripture Reference: Acts 2:37-40


Introduction


I considered entitling this message "Save Yourself from This Untoward Generation," inspired by Acts 2:40. However, I believe a more fitting title is "What Shall We Do?" as drawn from Acts 2:37. This question captures the essence of our response to Peter's urgent call and prompts us to seek practical steps for transformation in our lives.


What does it mean to "save yourself from this untoward generation"? The term "untoward," found uniquely in the New Testament Acts 2:40, comes from the Greek word έκμείλετος (ecmeiletos), meaning "shapeless." In the Old Testament Hebrew Bible, it appears over two hundred times, indicating something malformed or morally misshaped. Peter uses the term "crooked generation" similarly to Deuteronomy 32:5,20, implying a deep deviation from God's ways. This call to "save yourself" is a plea for radical moral transformation and disassociation from a generation engulfed in sin. The term suggests not just a temporal but a continual lineage of rebellious spirit, showing the persistent nature of sin through ages. Peter’s sermon, delivered on the day of Pentecost, makes a profound call to the people, urging them to separate from a generation marked by spiritual and moral deformity.


The Key Questions to this subject and message are:

  • How can I be different from this generation?

  • How can I be different from many other pastors?

  • How can I be different from many other people?

  • How can I be different from my generation.


The Context of Peter’s Sermon


Most of us are products of our parents. They used to take us to church every Sunday and give us offerings for the service. We are products of their seed. The question is: what can we impact our generation with? How can we be different? How do we leave an imprint? How can we leave a mark? What legacy will we leave behind? One hundred years from now, what will we leave for our generation, which can be evident? This sermon was on the Pentecostal day, the fiftieth day post-resurrection.


Peter's sermon followed the miraculous event of the Holy Spirit's outpouring, where the apostles spoke in various tongues. Some onlookers mocked these manifestations, suggesting drunkenness, which Peter refuted, stating it was only nine in the morning. He clarified that this was a fulfillment of Joel's prophecy. In his explanation, Peter connected the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to the prophecies, highlighting the sin of those who crucified the Savior. His message was a medieval trumpet with a clear, shrill tone and an urgent call for repentance.


The people who heard the message asked, "What shall we do?" This is the main question that normally arises when the Gospel is preached, and people are pricked in their hearts. The Gospel should prick people’s hearts. Peter then responded with, "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. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." He continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." Those who received his word were baptized, and about three thousand souls were added that day.


Peter’s call was straightforward and piercing: Repent and be baptized. He presented Christ’s messengers as sheep among wolves, urging the crowd to embrace a transformation that rejects pervasive sin and aligns with God's kingdom. This mission was pivotal, representing the movement of the Holy Spirit and the foundational truth of the gospel.


Peter’s Directive: Acknowledge Jesus as Christ and demonstrate this through baptism. This public confession was not just a ritual but a gateway to receiving the Holy Spirit, empowering believers to steadfastly pursue a life aligned with divine precepts.


John G. Lake once told of a man who fell into a polluted river. A man with presence of mind grabbed a rope and succeeded in getting him out, but he was unconscious. The doctor called to the scene said, "We have gotten him out of the river; now we must get the river out of him." This illustrates our spiritual condition. We may be saved from sin, but now the process of sanctification begins, removing the remnants of the 'river' from our lives.


In Romans 7:15-20, Paul says, "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. ... For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. ... Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me." This passage highlights the internal struggle with sin that believers face, emphasizing the need for ongoing transformation.


Many are saved and have taken hold of God by faith that when they die, they will go to heaven. But there is a bigger picture: the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ is about "getting the river out of you." It's about purifying your spirit, mind, and body, so they align with the Spirit of God. True salvation cleanses you from all unrighteousness.


Deep Dive


Consider Noah, an exemplar of righteousness amid a corrupt era. When Noah was building the ark, following God's explicit instructions, many people around him likely thought he was backward, irrational, or even insane. Imagine Noah, day after day, gathering wood and laboring on a massive structure while proclaiming that God had warned him of an impending flood that would destroy the world.


To the people of Noah's time, his actions would have seemed utterly nonsensical. They lived in a society where the concept of a worldwide flood was unimaginable, and thus, Noah’s prophetic warnings were dismissed as the ravings of a madman. Noah's obedience to God’s command was a profound act of faith and a stark contrast to the prevalent disbelief and corruption of his generation.


Consider the impact on Noah’s family. His children, living in a community steeped in mockery and skepticism, likely faced ostracism and ridicule. They might have lost close friends who could not comprehend or accept the divine mission their father was undertaking. The social cost of their family's unwavering faith and obedience was significant. Yet, despite the scorn and isolation, Noah and his family remained steadfast, their actions rooted in deep trust and reverence for God's word.


This scenario underscores a vital theological principle: faith often requires us to stand firm in the face of widespread unbelief and moral corruption. Just as Noah's faith and actions set him apart from his generation, we are called to distinguish ourselves from the pervasive sin and rebellion of our times. Hebrews 11:7 commends Noah's faith, stating, "By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith."


Noah’s story is a powerful analogy for the call to separate ourselves from an "untoward generation." It illustrates the cost of discipleship and the necessity of obedience to God’s word, even when it defies societal norms and expectations. Jesus Himself referenced Noah’s time to warn of the suddenness of His return, emphasizing the importance of vigilance and faithfulness (Matthew 24:37-39).


Just as Noah’s faithfulness led to the salvation of his family, our adherence to God’s instructions—despite mockery or misunderstanding—can be a beacon of hope and a testament to God’s truth in a world marred by sin. Noah’s unwavering commitment serves as an enduring example of how we should respond to God’s call: with obedience, faith, and the willingness to stand apart from a crooked and depraved generation. Like Noah, who was preserved through the ark, we are called to stand firm amidst societal corruption. We are called to be like trees with deep roots, weathering the storms of sin through our anchored faith in God’s promises.


Supporting Scriptures:

  • 2 Peter 3:1-11: This passage warns of scoffers and urges believers to live in holy conduct, anticipating the Lord’s return.

  • 1 John 2:15-17: It exhorts believers not to love the world or its desires, which are transient, unlike the eternal word of God.

  • Matthew 24:12: As lawlessness increases, the love of many will grow cold, but those who stand firm in love and obedience will endure.

  • Matthew 24:40-41 Jesus describes how the coming of the Son of Man will create a sudden and decisive separation among people. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken, and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken, and the other left. This illustrates the sudden and unexpected nature of His return.

  • Matthew 24:43-44 In these verses Jesus uses the analogy of a homeowner who, if he knew when a thief was coming, would stay awake to prevent a break-in. Jesus emphasizes the need for constant vigilance because the Son of Man will come at an hour we do not expect.

  • Matthew 24:45-51 Here Jesus compares a faithful and wise servant, who is doing his master's will when the master returns, with a wicked servant who is caught unprepared and abusing his responsibilities. The faithful servant is rewarded, while the wicked servant faces severe punishment. This serves as a warning to be diligent and faithful in our duties, as the timing of the Lord’s return is unknown.


Conclusion


Peter’s sermon encapsulates the urgent need for spiritual and moral reformation. This bold and compassionate call sets a precedent for all believers to earnestly separate themselves from a generation compromised in sin. This appeal is timeless, urging every generation to embrace repentance, live out baptismal vows, and fervently hold onto the transformative power of the gospel.


There is undoubtedly something we can do to distinguish ourselves and save ourselves from this untoward and crooked generation. The transformation starts with each one of us, individually, independently. Hallelujah!!!!


As we conclude, let us remember that each call to repentance is not just a warning but an invitation to a life of profound spiritual renewal and eternal peace. When Peter made this call, three thousand repented, gave their lives to God, and were baptized, receiving the Holy Spirit. Let this be the day of salvation for many, as it was for those three thousand souls (Acts 2:41) who responded to Peter's call during Pentecost.


The answer to "What shall we do?" remains the same: save yourself from this crooked generation by turning to Christ. Run to Jesus if you are burdened and in need of a breakthrough. Embrace the transformative power of the gospel, be baptized, and live a life dedicated to God’s ways.


Let us pray for the strength and courage to stand firm in our faith, to be different from this generation, and to leave a legacy of righteousness for future generations. Amen.


God bless you so much. May the peace of God dwell within you throughout this week. If you've been touched by today's message and wish to explore deeper faith, join us for Sunday services at AFM in Canada. Together, we can grow in love, strengthen our community, and uplift each other in our spiritual journeys. We look forward to welcoming you into our family. Blessings and grace be upon you.

 

Senior Pastor

Leo T Mukumba

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