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Acts 2:36-39 (NKJV) 36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
As human beings we have a tendency to resist change. However as Christians change is a mandate. In fact, Jesus died in order to transform us into His kingdom.
The world is engulfed with the idea of change right now, and I see a parallel with this atmosphere of change and our salvation. I hope to show you the revealed truth in this, so that we can resist the idea remaining worldly in thought, and make the transition to becoming true disciples of Christ.
We are now placing our focus on the second wave of worldwide crisis caused by the killing of George Floyd, Briana Taylor, and others, and the protests around the country and across the world. This is an unprecedented moment in history to be sure, but as significant as this time is right now, it may go down in history as only a brief interruption, and can quickly fade into the heap pile of nothingness. That is, unless we transition to the next logical level in world changing events, by turning this moment into a meaningful movement.
The world has seen many moments that become movements for transformational change. Women have gained the right to vote, and participate in government. People of color have gained legal civil rights. We have seen this in India’s independence, race revolution in Eastern Europe, and in the Arab Spring in the 2010’s just to name a few. There has never been a shortage of people in power who are over due for a wake-up call, and there are always those who risk everything to rise to the challenge of making justice happen.
Sometimes all it takes is a spark to prompt people to make life changing moves that never would be made at any other time. Presently, I would like to be optimistic about this period in our nation being one of those times, but I am not so sure. There is a juncture where a moment can fade without any lasting change ever taking place. This is also true for us as individuals as we progress in life. So today, let’s examine again, where we are, and see if per chance we are ready and willing to see this moment become a movement that causes real transformation to occur in our nation, and more importantly in all of us .
In Acts chapter 1, the disciples are talking to Jesus about their future. The Lord wanted to talk about the future with them as well, but it would seem that Jesus and disciples were not on the same page about what aspect of the future was more important. The disciples were finally clear about who Jesus really was after His miraculous life, death, and resurrection. They saw Jesus as their Messiah, the One who would finally bring to them what the bible calls the ‘restoration of all things’.
In 2 Kings 8 we see a wonderful story of this kind of restorative justice. Elisha the prophet had restored the life of the son of a widow. But that was not enough. The widow had also lost her home, and her livelihood after fleeing a famine for seven years. When the woman returned to her land, she found that it had been taken from her. She went to the King to make a plea for restorative justice. When the king heard her request for the return of her property, he didn’t just send her away with his well wishes, or a nice uplifting speech. He appointed an officer with the delegated power of His throne to assist her.
This is the order given by the King; ‘Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now’. He gave her retroactive restorative justice; restoring everything she was previously denied, with interest! . (See 2 Kings 8:6; Mt. 17:11; Acts 3:21). This is the kind of justice the disciples were interested in when they spoke to Jesus in the book of Acts!
The Messiah, (Jesus Christ), wanted his disciples to be restored both in spirit as well as naturally. So He told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father that is, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would provide spiritual restoration and that is huge. But even this was not enough.
Understand that the disciples, (who were Jews), rightly believed that they were God’s chosen, but were under Roman rule at the time. How could the Messiah leave them, and not restore them to their homeland, and the prosperity and the dominion they were promised through Abraham? So, they asked Him; “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? (See Acts 1:6).
Jesus told them that it was more important for them at that time to receive the Holy Spirit, and gave them hope that the restoration they desired was still on the agenda. What does this have to do with what is happening now? Everything actually, because people all over the world are making a petition in protest for restorative justice.
I want to go on record again stating that I agree with peaceful protesting. I know that this may be a controversial position for a pastor, but I feel it is necessary as a spark for transformational change. Having said that, I am fully convinced that much more than protests will be needed if real change is going to occur.
In Acts chapter 2 Peter preached a sermon that day that presented Jesus Christ as the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for but missed entirely. In fact, Peter claimed that they were instrumental in His death on the cross. It was a great sermon, but more importantly it was very effective. I know this because when Peter was done, the people were convicted to the point of asking that pointed question. ‘What do we need to do?’
This is the question that leads a non-believer into a relationship with Jesus. This is the question that opens the dialog that produces transformational change. When Peter answered their question, over 3000 souls gave their lives to Jesus. At the end of all ministry someone should be convinced of the need for some type of change. I as a reminder, real change is sustained by actions that improve the quality of life be it eternal, or life on earth.
That sermon, (along with the help of God), caused a movement that is still going today, the Church of Jesus Christ. But movements need more than speeches, or speaking in tongues. The church also needs money, and other resources in order for it to remain effective. The laws of the land would need to change as well when they are in opposition to the mandate that the church has.
These recent protests has also been effective in causing many people to say ‘no more’. Many people have become convicted and have been moved in the moment. But the next level of the movement has to produce behavioral change, and laws and policies that ensure that those changes become permanent, and can be sustained through time. And there are two kinds of change that need to happen. In Psalms 51, David being convicted of sin asks the Lord for a change of heart. The laws was clear, but those laws did not prevent David from breaking them. David like the rest of us, was in need of heart transformation.
Psalms 51:10 (KJV) 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 has already outlawed discrimination based on a person’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It’s already against the law to be racist. This only proves my point. Laws alone cannot not bring transformation. The problem is that many people still need their hearts transformed.
Conversely, there are people who have had the Acts 2:38 experience, speaking in other tongues, and still feel perfectly normal being white supremist, and have an expectation that only people like themselves be empowered, and have total control over anything and everything that would make life better for all. Something is definitely wrong with this thinking, and it will take a move of God to fix it. Clearly it will take much more than a new law, a speech, or a series of protests.
I also think it problematic when a person is deeply religious, but has no expectation that the God they serve is able prosper them in their natural lives. We are children of Abraham by faith, and we have a right to expect the blessing (natural and spiritual) that goes along with our spiritual birthright. (See Acts 2:39; Gal. 3:8)
If the unrest of 2020 is truly a move of God then the movement will surely go to the next level. That means that at some point people will have to stop protesting, and have some meaningful dialogue with those who are in power. (And remember there is more than one kind of ‘power’).
This dialog has already begun, but it must progress. Then those in power, must be moved to admit wrongdoing, and commit to making restitution. Laws and policies need to be changed and there must be ways to police, (for lack of a better word), and ensure that even those who are not in agreement with the ‘new’ world created be change are in compliance. All parties involved must remain involved with no exclusions of those who may seem to be ‘trouble makers’. Periodically all issues must be revisited to make sure that any new problems are being solved as they come up. If we fail in any one of these steps we will only set ourselves up for the next uprising.
Now here is the revelation in this. The same principles apply for our salvation. Salvation is not just a moment, it is a movement. Far too many people have mistaken getting saved for being saved. I believe that we spend too much effort and time getting people baptized and spirit filled, and not nearly enough time going to the next level of transformation. Just like other ‘moments’ like these protests, we can easily and quickly fade back into business as usual. In fact, that is exactly what the ‘status quo’, that is the enemy, is counting on.
The devil does not mind you being water baptized as long as you have no intention of changing your behaviors. He does not mind you speaking in tongues as long as the Holy Ghost does not truly empower you, and cause you to change how you live. As long as you continue to be powerless, and wait for the next spiritual moment, there will be no life changing movement. But the devil also knows that when you are convicted, and convinced, you will constantly ask that pivotal question. What does God want me to DO? And then you will do just that!
I pray that this moment will become a movement of transformational change for our nation and for you!
Bishop Horace Ransom Jr. is the Senior Pastor and Founder of New Covenant Church International in Detroit, Michigan. He is a Jurisdictional Bishop and serves on the Board of Presbytery for the Jabula International Network, North America. Bishop Ransom is an outstanding teacher of the Word of God with a passion for challenging believers to become the best that they can be. Faith, Purpose and the Kingdom of God are frequently the subject matter of his dissertation.