17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. (Acts 3: 17-21)
Those that have been following this devotional since January are aware that we have been examining the concept of Missio Dei, a Latin term for “The Mission of God.” Its central idea is that that God is the one who initiates and sustains mission. This phrase was coined by missiologists to refute the idea that mission is centered on the church. In essence it refers to everything that God does for the communication of salvation without neglecting the important role that God has assigned to the church in that process. In other words, God’s purpose of communicating salvation has never changed or been thwarted since the fall.
As we continue the story of the lame man who was healed and the subsequent events, we see that Peter and John are knee deep in the communication of salvation. Signs and wonders are evidence for unbelievers that God is showing up and as seems to be the pattern, God’s messengers are communicating salvation. Part of that communication is a call to repent.
Peter gave the call to repentance (v. 19) with two expressions: “repent” (metanoeō) and “turn to God” (epistrephō). The audience was to have a complete change of mind, turning from rejection of Christ and turning, or “returning,” to God. In rejecting God’s Messiah they had rejected God’s purpose for them. Accepting the Messiah would thus be a return to God. In vv. 19b–20 Peter gave the threefold result of their repentance: (1) their sins would be forgiven, (2) the “times of refreshing” would come upon them, and (3) God would send the Messiah whom he had appointed for them. The forgiveness of sins is clear enough. Throughout Acts repentance is closely connected with forgiveness; indeed it is the basis for forgiveness.
God is still issuing the call to repentance. The next time God shows up with irrefutable evidence of his existence, you can be sure that his desire is to communicate salvation. Remember, the connection between repentance and forgiveness. If there is no repentance there is no times of refreshing. Lack of repentance in response to what God has done for us is one of the great maladies of the church today.
Remember, this call to repent is the very heart of God. He is not willing that we should continue on a path away from him to destruction. He gave his Son so we could turn from our sin and have our sins blotted out. His desire is for people to repent and turn to God. Forgiveness and a cleansed life follow.
So let’s take a page from Peter’s play book. Let’s let people know of God’s great love for us and of the possibility to turn from our sins, that they may be blotted out and we would experience times of refreshing. Nothing refreshes like the presence of the Lord.