“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)
From the moment of our conception we, as God’s creations, are the recipients of his grace; blessed with everything from shelter and warmth, mother and father to the very air we breathe. Within the Lutheran Church we become the recipients of a far greater gift than these and, for many of us, we are given this gift before we are even cognizant of what it is we are receiving. Bringing a child to the waters of Holy Baptism is to watch God’s grace conferred in a remarkable abundance. The newly baptized child, though inarticulate and even unaware, has had their sin forgiven. Their old nature, tainted by original sin, is removed from them and they are made a new creation — God’s good and redeemed creation. Furthermore, putting on the robe of Christ’s righteousness they are made inheritors of His coming kingdom. Finally, they are given the gift of the Holy Spirit who works the faith into their hearts that will sustain them and keep them in their baptismal grace until the coming of that kingdom.
This is where we find ourselves today; God’s baptized and redeemed children, His church on earth, fed and nourished daily by the Holy Spirit. Being so fed, we recognize that for each of us there is a call to action. We are not called to be so gorged that we become spiritually fat. We are not given this faith and then commanded to sit on it until the time of our deliverance from our sin-stained world. No, quite the contrary, the Holy Spirit moves the faithful to engage that fallen world. He daily moves us to repentance, prayer, devotion and, yes, evangelism.
The brief passage above, Acts 2:38, contains famous words from St. Peter during his Pentecost sermon. Here he clearly and concisely demonstrates to Christ’s new church our evangelical cry, the bold proclamation we are called to make even now. “Repent! Turn away from the poison of sin and come to the healing waters of Baptism! Receive the name of Jesus Christ who has redeemed you, in whom you have been given forgiveness, life and salvation! And receive the Holy Spirit, the counselor, that you might grow in faith and bring those who are lost back into the fold!”
Each day that we live is an opportunity for evangelism; once He has hold of you the Holy Spirit will not cease to work within you and, by your faithful witness, His work will bear fruit. God’s kingdom will grow. New children will come to be the recipients of God’s grace. This call has been ours since our baptism and is a life-long endeavor. No formal training is necessary, no seminary education or missions training. We live out this call in our various vocations; Father, son, brother, friend, teacher, student, counselor. As brothers in Christ we bear witness to the one who gave himself freely to redeem us. Bearing the mark of that redemption upon our foreheads and upon our hearts how can we do any different? How can we take this free gift and not share it with those around us who have not yet heard and have not yet received?
Where two or three are gathered in the name of Christ, there he promises to be. Whether it be at home, at church or among the fraternal gathering of brothers in His name. He is there. He is present with his gifts and we are privileged to make straight his path, we announce his arrival with all we say and do. Driven by His Spirit let us cry out to all the world: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ!”