In Acts 2:37-42, the Apostle Paul’s physician, Luke, says this:
“Now when they heard this, they were [pierced] in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ And Peter said unto them, ‘Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ [for] the [forgiveness] of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him.’ And with many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’ They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
In this passage, Luke records the reaction of the Apostle Peter’s hearers to his sermon, as well as his response to their reaction. This passage describes:
- the hearers’ conviction
- the herald’s command
- the herald’s consolation
- the herald’s counsel
- the hearers’ confessions
- the hearers’ crowd
- the hearers’ commitments.
In verse 37, Luke describes the hearers’ conviction. He begins by saying that, when Peter’s hearers heard his sermon about the prophecy of the Spirit’s indwelling, and the proof of the Savior’s identity, and his command for his hearers to know for certain that Jesus was the Supreme Prophet, Priest, and King of Old Testament, whom they murdered, their hearts were stabbed, so that they were violently shocked and saddened at the fact that they had murdered the Messiah. Therefore, Luke says, they asked Peter and the rest of the Apostles what they should do.
In the first part of verse 38, Peter answers them with the herald’s command; he responds that they should repent, or change the way they think about themselves and Jesus, and be dunked under water by the authority of Jesus the Anointed One because of the forgiveness of their sins, granted to them through their repentant faith in the gospel.
In the second part of verse 38 to verse 39, Peter then gives the herald’s consolation to his convicted hearers: if they change the way they think, and allow themselves to be baptized by the authority of Jesus the Anointed One because they know that their sins are forgiven, then they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because, he says, the promise of the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit is for them and their children and for all those who are far away from God, so long as they are those whom the Lord their God will call to Himself, or bring to Himself by the power of the Holy Spirit through learning the gospel. Why? Because it is only those who go to the Lord who receive the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and they will only go to the Lord if the Holy Spirit makes them able to do so.
In verse 40, Luke describes the herald’s counsel. He says that, after Peter commanded his hearers to repent and be baptized because of their forgiveness, and that they would receive the Holy Spirit if they did so, since the promise was for them and everyone the Lord would call to Himself, with many other words, he solemnly, or seriously, testified to the truth of the gospel, and kept on urging and warning them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” (NASB). How were they to be saved from the perverse generation? By changing their minds about themselves and the gospel of the God-man, Jesus, His death for our sins, and His bodily resurrection from the dead, so as to have their sins forgiven. As the Apostle Paul said, they were to change the way they thought in the direction of God, and to trust in Christ, His death for their sins, and His bodily resurrection from the dead for the forgiveness of their sins.
In the first part of verse 41, Luke records the hearers’ confessions. Partly as a result of Peter’s command, consolation, and counsel, those hearers who had received, or accepted, his message were baptized. There are two confessions here. First, his hearers confessed, or acknowledged, that his message was true and deserving of obedience, acceptance, and trust. Second, his hearers confessed that they received his message by being baptized, which is the biblical profession of faith in the gospel, symbolizing one’s death, burial, and resurrection with Christ, and showing that the one being baptized believes that Jesus is the Supreme Authority and God-man who died for His sins and came back to life.
In the second part of verse 41, Luke records the hearers’ crowd. He says that, on the day that Peter preached his sermon, and some of his hearers received it and were baptized, there were added about 3,000 souls to the disciples. How did they know how many people were added? Because they were baptized, and they took note of those who were baptized, and counted them as those who were added to the disciples.
In verse 42, Luke describes the hearers’ commitments. The three thousand who received Peter’s word, were baptized, and were added to the disciples were continually devoting themselves to 4 things:
- submitting to the Lord (the Apostles’ teaching)
- sharing in the Lord (fellowship)
- supping with the Lord (the breaking of bread, or the Lord’s Supper)
- speaking to the Lord (prayer).
So, has the gospel pierced your heart, so that you wanted to know what to do to have God’s forgiveness?
Do you command unbelievers to change the way they think about themselves and the gospel and to be baptized by the authority of Jesus the Anointed One because of the forgiveness of their sins?
Have you changed the way you think about yourself and the gospel, and have you been baptized by the authority of Jesus the Anointed One because your sins have been forgiven?
Do you promise unbelievers, that, if they change the way they think about themselves and the gospel in a direction toward God, then God will forgive all their sins?
Has the Lord our God called you to Himself?
If right, do you use many words to solemnly testify to the truth of gospel, and do you keep on urging unbelievers, commanding them to be saved from the world?
Have you received the gospel?
Have you been added to the number of Jesus’s disciples in a local church?
Are you continually devoting yourself to the Apostle’s teaching, to fellowship, to the Lord’s Supper, and to prayer?
Do you understand the gospel? The Apostle Paul wrote about it this way:
“. . . I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
This is what the Apostle John said about the gospel in John 1:1-18:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me. For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
This is what Christ Himself said about the gospel:
“. . . God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:16-20
John the Baptist said this: “. . . he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on [stays directed toward] him.” – John 3:36
The Apostle Paul said this in Romans 2:4-16 and 1:18-32:
“. . . despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified; (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.”
“. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousnessof men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.”
Speaking of those that practice sin, the Apostle Paul uses this quote:
“. . . There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness . . .” – Romans 3:10-14
This is my appeal to you, as written by the Apostle Paul:
“. . . we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21
This is how you become reconciled to God:
“. . . if thou shalt confess [acknowledge] with thy mouth Jesus as Lord [Greek: kurios, or Supreme in Authority], and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him [depend upon Him]: for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [who He is, what He has done, and what He can do] shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13