The Great Escape

Praying til Penetecost Day 49

"Be saved from this perverse generation." Acts 2:14

In the "Fifties" our family would often take pre-interstate trip across the United States. From Dallas, Texas we travelled west to California, and east to New York City. On one occasion in the we even led a caravan of cars from Dallas to Ridgecrest, N.C. for some kind of youth camp. That was a lot of traffic lights, speed traps and "Burma Shave" signs. In spite of all the delays behind slow moving tractors in small towns and unsynchronized lights in big cities, we made it back with all cars in tact and every teenager accounted for. One of my memories of these trips across the country is the numerous signs declaring, "Jesus Saves!" One weary traveler must have had too much time on his hands. He had taken a brush to one of these signs of salvation, and added in bright green paint the words, "GREEN STAMPS!" I have to admit that I was amused by the irreverent humor. I don't remember my Dad laughing at it, but I still smile when I think about it 50 years later.

For the uninformed and much too young, "Green Stamps" were a marketing tool that was used to attract customers to the gasoline station. The merchant provided stamps to the buyer in exchange for the gasoline they purchased. The stamps could be placed in books, and then taken to a "Redemption Center" and exchanged for merchandise. The gas station attendant even pumped the gas for you. It was a great system. You would keep you eyes peeled for the "Green Stamps" sign outside of a station, and then pull up to the pump, and say to the attendant, "Fill it up with Ethyl." Before you paid for the gasoline, he would ask if you collected "Green Stamps." If you were interested in them, then he would tear a portion of them out of a large book, and hand them over to you. As a kid, I had more than one episode of "glue sickness" after spending the next several miles licking them and placing them in the book. Good times!

After Peter's message at Pentecost, the people in the crowd said, "What shall we do?" They were told...

  • "Repent...
  • Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins...
  • Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)

The account in Acts tells us that Peter kept on encouraging people to...

  • "Be saved from this perverse generation." (Acts 2:40)

The word "saved" can also be translated "escape, deliver, protect, do well, heal, preserve, make whole." It carries with it the concept of saving oneself by getting away from danger. The King James Version uses the word "untoward" to translate the word that the New American Standard Version calls "perverse." Both of these translations can be clarified when we understand that the word used here is the primary source for the word we know in English as "scoliosis." It is transliterated from Greek to English with virtually no change. This word is used by the medical community to describe a spine that is winding, and crooked. Without correction scoliosis will bend a person into a pretzel, and force them into a grotesque shape that is a far cry from the original function of the spine.

The first step to salvation is to admit that you are crooked and in need of correction. The word "crook" is used today to describe a person who willfully strays from the law, and flirts with the dangerous consequences of his behavior on a daily basis. An unrepentant sinner is bent on having their own way in life, and refuses to choose Jesus Christ as the only way to escape the judgement of that awaits an uncorrected life. Unsaved people need to escape from the winding, crooked, perverse, untoward, and wayward world around them. The longer they walk in the way of the world, they become more bent over by the consequences of sin.

The hope of the world is wrapped up in this initial call of the church, "Be saved!" There is a way of escape from a life of sin. There is a way to correct the crookedness that the consequences of sin brings on any life. The person who has had their heart pierced by the truth of God's word can find healing, and be made whole by the Presence of Jesus Christ taking possession of their life through the Person of the Holy Spirit. There must be a time when and a place where the decision is made to get back on course for what God had in mind from the beginning. There must be a willful choice to receive forgiveness from Jesus, and fullness from the Holy Spirit. There must be a turning away and a separation from the danger that comes from walking with people who do not see how crooked they are.