4th Sunday of Pentecost – Cut to the Heart

June 27, 2020


Acts 2:37-47

You may have noticed already that I am not there as a part of the live stream this morning. I have taken this week off, as vacation, but before I went I was able to record a message for this morning so that is what you are hearing now.

Today is the last Sunday of the sermon series on Acts chapter 2. Last week we read the speech or sermon that Peter gave, and now this week, we read what happened immediately after that sermon.

And what it says is that, “…when they heard this, they were cut to the heart…”

When they heard what Peter had to say, they were cut to the heart. They were convicted. Their hearts were pierced, and they asked, “What should we do?”

It made me think of Bon Jovi’s song lyric, “Shot through the heart and you’re too late, You give love a bad name.”

Now, Bon Jovi, of course, is singing about being smitten and overcome with love for another person, but he powerfully expresses that feeling of being drawn in, almost against your will.

This crowd is cut to the heart, against their own selves. Do you remember how Peter ended his sermon, do you remember his conclusion last week. He ends his sermon with these words: “…this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Peter is compelled to blatantly condemn them for crucifying Jesus, that is his conclusion. And then it says, “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, Brothers what should we do?”

Isn’t that remarkable? Peter insults them all, and they respond by asking, “What should we do?”

What if I were to stand up here today and say, “You all have betrayed Jesus and have been unfaithful.” Would you be convicted? Or would you be defensive?

I think most of us would be defensive. We would say, “Hey, you’re being a little harsh.” We might say it is not that bad, or we would make excuses.

But by the power of the Holy Spirit, these people are not defensive, they are pierced, they are convicted, they experience their need for forgiveness.

This is what the Holy Spirit does. The Spirit cuts hearts, pierces consciences, convicts them. They realize that they have been wrong and instead of trying to defend themselves or make excuses, they ask, “What should we do?”

This is how God forms his people. This is the beginning of the spread of the church.

The church is made of people who are cut to the heart. It is made of people who have fled from this corrupt world, who have experienced their need for forgiveness.

So why would anyone be in the church? The message of the gospel is that you are sinner and you must repent. How can you be drawn in by this message?

It is only by the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who gives Peter the courage to speak. It is the Spirit that cuts their hearts, and it is the Spirit that baptizes them.

And only those who are cut to the heart can welcome this message. The message of our sin and Jesus’ death on the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who believe, it is the power of life.

And how can we come to believe? Our hearts are cut.

We are cut and conscious stricken. We realize what we have done to Jesus. We realize that we dishonored him, that we have disobeyed him. We realize that we have been far more focused on ourselves and what we want, than focused on Jesus and what he wants.

We are cut to the heart. And then with a stricken conscious, we cry out “What do we do?”

And the answer is one of reassurance. There is hope, even for those who have completely betrayed the Lord. Repentance is still possible, even if we have been completely wrong. Even for those who killed Jesus, the promise of God is true. God’s promise of new life is even for those who were completely against God’s good will in Jesus.

Maybe you are experiencing a cutting of the heart right now. Maybe you are convicted of all the ways you have conformed to this corrupt world, all the ways you have made Christianity about yourself, and maybe you are convicted that you have been wrong.

So what do you do? Repent. Repentance is yours. It is not too late. God can turn away from all those selfish motives. If you are not baptized, come and be baptized. If you are baptized, remember and return to your baptism.

This promise is for you. It is for everyone whom the Lord is calling to himself. When you are cut to the heart, when your conscious is pulling on you, it is the Spirit at work. The Spirit is convicting you, drawing you to repentance to receive the promise of God.

God is bringing you to the living water of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is gathering you in. You have been wrong, but God makes you right.