Early Church Lesson #3: Why the Gospel Is More Like an Infomercial Than a Sitcom

June 15, 2019

Acts 2:36-41 (NIV)

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.


What shall we do?

When is the last time you came to the end of either preaching a sermon or hearing one and this question spontaneously erupted at the end?

Scenario 1: I am in the doctors office. She comes into the room and shares with me the unfortunate results of the biopsy. Then she proceeds to tell me about the good news of the cure rate and of the treatment options and their various implications. My question: What shall I do?

Scenario 2: I am at the automobile dealer getting my car serviced. The agent tells me that my swagger wagon is approaching the age where big things can go wrong that cost a lot of money to repair. Then he proceeds to tell me the good news of a three year 36,000 mile extension of my warranty for only a few dollars a day. Should anything go wrong, they’ve got it covered. My question: What shall I do?

Scenario 3: I’m sitting on the couch watching an infomercial about the latest, greatest juicer ever made. This thing can overcome years of my bad eating habits. It can make vegetables taste like a Snickers Bar. It can infuse so many antioxidants into my body that cancer cells will flee. It’s not cheap, but if I buy it now I will save hundreds of dollars and probably my life. My question: What shall I do?

Scenario 4: I’m sitting on the jury of a murder trial . . . OK, you get the point.

I share these scenarios not because they offer legitimate comparisons to the story in today’s text, but because they may provide a helpful analogy. (As an aside, the gospel should have more in common with an infomercial than a sitcom though). Gospel, or “good news” scenarios always evoke  the spontaneous response, “What shall we do?” And it is not left to the hearer to generate the possible responses. It lies to the hearer to make the decision.

In today’s text, we have the privilege of seeing the gospel preached and heard for the first time (post Ascension).  The initial response is always repent and be baptized or not. But that’s only the beginning. The gospel always invites the hearer to repent (i.e. to realign their life around the good news of the Rule of Jesus shared with us through  the now-present Holy Spirit, i.e. the in-breaking Kingdom of God.)

Often we walk away from sermons with responses like, “That was interesting,” or “That was helpful,” or “That was amazing,” or (God forbid) “That was awful!”

But . . . “What shall we do?” You tell me.




What does repentance look like in your life these days? How does the idea of “realignment” with the bigger story shape your thinking about repentance rather than behavior management?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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