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Purpose: The Bible exposition of Be Saved! on Acts 2:14-40 shows the power of the Spirit of God as the birth of the new church era and why three thousand people came to know the Lord on one day.
This is part 3 of 3 (excluding the podcast) on Acts 2:37-40 which records the response of the broken hearted listeners to Peter's message. Through this message we gain special insight into what God is looking for in our own hearts as we seek salvation.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" 38 And Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself." 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!" (Acts 2:37-40).
Luke records their immediate response, "Brethren, what shall we do?. They were convicted, seeking grace and desiring to find a solution. Later in 2:41 he records other responses. Most important to note here is their heart change. Like the parable of the sower, their hearts became like soil that welcomed the seed of the Gospel. "They were pierced to the heart" indicates that they were changed on the inside.
We will never again see Pentecost, but we should be very concerned when we don't see some movement of the Spirit among us as typified here. Real change is always indicated by the heart not by the hand. Their heart urged them to seekingly respond, "Brethren, what shall we do?" They knew they had offended the mighty God. They had been implicated in the murder of not only a righteous man but the Messiah. Fortunately by the extraordinary grace of God, Peter had a message that could encourage and save them.
Peter in response to the genuine plea of the guilty clearly proclaims the evangelistic call to salvation. There are several important parts to this call: repentance, baptism and promise.
Most evangelists shamefully no longer include repentance as part of their message. The importance to call people to reject their old lives as sinful and wrong and to adopt the better life of following God in Christ seems to have been long forgotten. Even though it is recorded here and repeated in many places throughout the scriptures (69 times used in NASB though some might have variant meanings), evangelists want to stress the ease of salvation rather than the way of salvation. Jesus said, "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3).
Peter did not begin with speaking of God's love. God's love is seen in that there is an offer of salvation. How loving would it be if we told the hungry there is a lot of food but never told them how to reach that place of provision. Those who refuse to speak the message of repentance to those seeking salvation have compromised with the world. In hopes of bringing more into God's kingdom, they twist the gospel.
One might wonder does one have to preach repentance every time one speaks the Gospel? No, it is not necessary. But when people are convicted by their guilt and seeking Christ, repentance and forgiveness of sin through Christ must be preached.
Another might wonder, "What is the difference if we speak of repentance?" The word 'repentance' means to turn in the opposition direction. The Lord asked people to put Christ first. If they are not clear to the terms of Christ's offer, then at the worst, they might not be saved and even if they are, they will through their lives be confused. Repentance is not only the beginning of faith but also is the pattern of Christian growth.
Baptism is more recently becoming neglected. We might minimize the ritual, but baptism represents a complete new allegiance which is only appropriate after one repents. Repentance speaks of rejecting one's old life while baptism speaks of establishing a new way of life. It is true that Peter was speaking to many who were deeply convicted by the Holy Spirit. But we should remember that many other thousands did not respond. They thought it was too much. They did not want to turn about in their lives.
Baptism refers to the water ritual where the believer is submerged under water for a brief moment just as one would dye a piece of cloth. Dip the object into the water (this is the actual meaning of baptism), and it changes color. Behind the ritual, however, is a deep change of one's loyalty. Where before one was committed to live for oneself, now he or she has died and is committed to follow Christ (see Romans 6 for more on its meaning). Note repentance should precede baptism.
One might ask, "What harm is there if one is not baptized?" The person is thinking that baptism is not important. But why should we question the command of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-19) and example set here? Even if we did not understand, truly it is important.
Without baptism, we should question whether we are truly committed to Christ. And if there are signs such as this that show that we are not truly committed, then we probably are not believers at all. Every genuine Christian should seek believer's baptism.
One recently asked, "I was baptized when small but recently came to know the Lord. Should I be baptized?" What does it say here and elsewhere. Believe and be baptized not be baptized and believe. The church has it backwards and should be ashamed to ritualize people into God's kingdom. It does not work. Let us see the fruit of repentance before baptism. Baptism is not completely analogous to circumcision as many believe. Belief represents what has happened in our hearts. We should rightly be baptized if we come to know the Lord after we are previously baptized.
Forgiveness of sin follows genuine repentance. If you have seen the heart change in an individual, one can see the transformation of a person who discovers true forgiveness.
The gifts of the Spirit are a clear affirmation that Jesus rules as Lord.It is quite a magnificent scene. We should not think that the ritual of baptism brings forgiveness. Baptism is only significant when it represents the change of heart. If there is not repentance, baptism is empty. Forgiveness of sin come about when people repent and believe in Christ who died in their stead. By faith in Christ is one saved.
A person should not think that forgiveness from sin comes about by doing good. Instead, it comes about after we acknowledge our wicked hearts, repent and put our faith in the Lord. True forgiveness of sin is offered to all who come to Christ. This is not a partial forgiveness but a whole forgiveness that leads to reconciliation, the reestablishment of our relationship with God through Christ. How delightfully wonderful!
Think what this meant to those Jews who found they took part in killing the Messiah. Think what it means in your life after all the sinful things you have done. Truly God is gracious to offer a full pardon for our sins.
This whole message began by describing the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the believers. ￼They were remarkably changed. God was using them to bring the message of life to others even through languages that they had never spoken before. Pentecost is a unique event just as Christ served as our Passover.But the Holy Spirit living in our lives is not unique. Every believer should not only have the Spirit but is responsible to live by the Spirit to carry out God's work.
The implications of this promise of the Holy Spirit are too great to describe here. Only one will be mentioned.
Believers have become a temple of God. The Holy Spirit lives in our lives. He anticipates that we will live holy lives empowered by the new life that seeks holy things in our lives. "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19).
"For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself." (Acts 2:39)
Let us attempt to get the whole perspective here if possible. God is not only offering murders the promise of life but also offers to us, those who call on the Name of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit. He is not stingily making open this offer but speaking to all of us. Yes, Peter was speaking to Jews, but there is a great emphasis on making this offer open to those of all nations. This is one primary characteristic of the New Covenant made in Christ. It is by faith that we are saved not through works.
Any can believe. No sin is so great, no race is so dejected, no sex prioritized so that any cannot come to Jesus. All can and should come to Jesus for eternal life.
This offer is made to us and our children. We all need to respond. We cannot respond on the behalf of our children as much as we would like. It is a personal decision to believe. It is ours and not 'forced' on us in that sense. John 1:12-13 further instructs us that we ourselves are responsible for this belief, not our parents, not our elders, not our church, not our country. We need to come and believe.
Along with the personal choice is God's prior choice. This becomes confusing to some, but it is not very difficult to understand. "As many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself" means that God first works in our hearts causing us to seek after Him. (This is perfectly compliant with the teaching of being born again from John 3). We cannot seek Him without Him first doing a work in our lives. This is wholly consistent with what Jesus teaches in the Gospel as well as in the other epistles (check out Romans 8-11). God chose us in Christ before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4).
First of all, do not become preoccupied with this question. God so much wants you to be part of His family, He helps you do what you could not do on your own (Romans 3:9-11). We are still responsible to respond to God. One should never think that we need to wait for God.
Focus on your responsibility. If you are at all interested in the Lord, it is because He is already working in your heart. If you are sensitive to how you offended Him, then it is because the Spirit is already convicting you of your sin. That is a positive conviction leading to salvation.
"With Many other words" (Acts 2:40)
"And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!" (Acts 2:40)
Peter evidently also was a long-winded preacher! He did not only tell good-sounding stories, however, but 'solemnly testified' and 'kept on exhorting them.' He spoke the truth in the anointing of the Spirit. He warned them of the world they lived ￼in. The world is perverse. They cannot just go along with the world and think all is well.
Some believe that religious societies are better, but we need to remember that this 'perverse generation' was the Jewish 'world' that Peter was primarily referring to in Jerusalem. Religion confuses; Jesus saves. Religion only covers up one's guilt by having one think better of himself than he is and by presenting false ideas.
Some have wondered whether we should destroy 'innocent' cultures by preaching to those isolated cultures. There is no innocent community. Every generation in every culture is considered perverse. In each society the people are full of hate, spite, jealousy, etc (Romans 1:28-32). We should not be fooled by the world's rejection of the Gospel. If the Jewish generation was perverse, surely all others are. Just open one's newspaper and it will be filled with reports on its corruption.
The real question is whether you have whole heartedly turned from your sin. Seek Him. If you waiver between the world and the Lord, then you should see that either you have not repented or that you are not being consistent with your former commitment.
Make clear on your commitment or think of yourself as a religious follower that will perish with the perverse generation in which you live. Jesus is Lord and calls every one everywhere to repent, be baptized and to claim the promise of God's Spirit in your lives.
Next -> Check out the podcast of this mini-series on Acts 2:14-40 or the Acts Indix
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