In Acts chapter 2 we have the record of the conversion and salvation of about 3000 souls, Acts 2:41. These conversions were effected by the power of the Holy Spirit as He worked through the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are told that the 12 apostles were together in one place on the day of Pentecost when they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, Acts 2:1-4. This was the promise from the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which was promised the apostles in Acts 1:4,5. On that first day of Pentecost following Jesus resurrection from the dead the Holy Spirit worked through the 12 apostles. He worked through them in performing the signs and wonders of that day, Acts 2:4-12. The Holy Spirit revealed the truth to the apostles, reminded them of Jesus words, and gave them the very words they were to speak, John 16:13; 14:26; Matthew 10:19,20. In doing this the Holy Spirit was fulfilling the work Jesus said he would perform in convicting the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment, John 16:8.
So, in this 2nd chapter of Acts, we have a record of conversion effected by and endorsed by the power of God. We do well to pay it close attention today for the means of conversion as well as the requirements of conversion have not changed in the 2000 years since that first Pentecost. Let us closely examine this chapter so that we might understand what Gods work is in mans conversion and salvation. Let us also fully understand what is required of men so that they might be saved from sin.
We are told in Romans 1:16 that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. The gospel, its being preached and taught, is Gods power to save men and women from sin. In the gospel Jesus is revealed as the Son of God and the savior of men. It is in the gospel that we learn of sin and the wages of sin and that Jesus is the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world. It is the gospel that produces faith, Romans 10:17, without which it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6. It is in the gospel that we come face to face with our sin, our Savior, and the greatest decision we will ever have to make! The decision of whether we will believe in Christ and submit to Him in obedience or reject Him.
In Acts chapter 2 the apostles were empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak other languages, vs.4,6,8,11. This miracle attracted the attention of a large crowd of people. As the people stood and listened they were amazed and marveled at this miracle and wondered, what does this mean? vs.12. Some tried to explain away the miracle by accusing the apostles of being full of sweet wine, vs.13. But Peter gave the proper interpretation of those events by quoting from the prophet Joel 2:28-32. Peter said that the people were witnessing the fulfilling of Joels prophecy. While there are many interesting elements in this prophecy from Joel Peter concentrates on the very last statement. It says, And it shall be, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. So in the sermon that follows Peter explains and elaborates upon this statement. His subject is salvation and Jesus Christ is the main point. In elaborating on this statement from Joel Peter answers three very critical questions that naturally arise: First, who is the Lord on whom men must call to be saved? Second, what do men need to be saved from? And third, how do men call on the name of the Lord so as to be saved?
To men today it may seem a moot point to say that Jesus is Lord and Christ. But to the Jews Peter addressed there could not be a more critical point. They, and their rulers, had Jesus crucified because they did not believe him to be Lord and Christ. Peter had to prove that Jesus is Lord and Christ so that the Jews of his day could call upon him for salvation. Still today men must be convinced that Jesus is Lord and Christ so that they might believe in him unto salvation. In verses 22-36 Peter proves that Jesus is Lord and Christ. He does this by appealing to the testimony of God, prophecy, and the events of that day of Pentecost.
Jesus was the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know vs.22. Gods testimony concerning Jesus was that He was the Christ, the only begotten Son of God. The form of this testimony was the signs and wonders and miracles that Jesus openly and publicly performed. The Jews of Peters day could not deny this. When one reads the gospel accounts of Jesus life he immediately notices the record of these miracles. These have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31. These miracles were Jesus credentials the stamp of approval from God the Father. If one is to believe in Jesus as the Christ he must give honest and careful consideration to the miracles, wonders, and signs which God performed through Jesus.
The second item proving Jesus is the Christ is Old Testament prophecy especially prophecy concerning his resurrection from the dead. The specific passage under consideration is Psalm 16:8-11 a psalm written by David which Peter quotes in Acts 2:25-28. The passage speaks of someone whose spirit would not be left in Hades and whose flesh would not undergo the decaying effects of death. Peter goes on to prove that David did not speak this of himself for the patriarch David both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. vs.29. Peter says that David was a prophet and that he looked ahead and spoke this concerning the resurrection of the Christ. This was fulfilled in Jesus when God raised him from the dead ... a fact to which the apostles were all witnesses, vs.32. The resurrection powerfully and irrefutably proves that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ of Old Testament prophecy. No other has been raised from the dead never to die again! Please note the number of credible witnesses who saw Jesus after he had been raised from the dead, I Corinthians 15:4-8.
The final item of proof had to do with the events of that day of Pentecost. Peter says Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. vs.33. The miraculous activity which they were witnessing had been produced by Jesus who had sent the Holy Spirit to the apostles. The fact that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the apostles proved that he had indeed ascended back to the Father! The ascension and glorification of the Christ were also subjects of prophecy. One such prophecy is Psalm 110:1 quoted by Peter in Acts 2:34,35. This too was a prophecy spoken by David who himself did not ascend into heaven. Instead, this was David beholding and speaking of the Christ ascending to the Father and being exalted and enthroned at the Fathers right hand. The apostles knew Jesus had ascended into heaven because they saw him taken up out of their sight, Acts 1:9-11. They were told by the two men in white clothing that this Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven. The apostles knew Jesus had been exalted and enthroned in heaven because he had sent them the Holy Spirit and poured fourth the happenings of that day of Pentecost. All of this fulfilled the prophecies and expectations concerning the Christ.
It is no secret that prevailing Jewish thought concerning the Christ was that he would come and save them from their enemies and those who oppressed them. They thought of the Christ as a social reformer and a political savior. Their concept of the Christ was very much like the judges of the Old Testament who were little more than military leaders sent to defeat Israels enemies. All of these expectations Jesus would spurn and expose as false. He was a king, but His kingdom was not of this world, John 18:36. Jesus would defeat and bind Israels real enemy Satan! He would save them from their bondage, but it was bondage to sin and not bondage to Rome, John 8:32-34. He would equip his followers with armor but it would be spiritual armor to fight a spiritual battle, Ephesians 6:10-20. He would save men, not by living on earth and leading a physical army against other armies; He would save men by laying down His life, tasting death for every man, and by being raised to reign in heaven where He ever lives to intercede for us, Hebrews 2:9; 7:25.
The Jews Peter addressed on the day of Pentecost needed to be saved from their sins. Especially they needed to be forgiven of the sin of having crucified Jesus whom God made Lord and Christ, Acts 2:36. To be saved their sins needed to be identified and called sin! Peter and the other apostles did not fail in this department. He made no mistake about it they had put to death the Lord of glory. This Jewish audience felt the weight of this indictment and the pain of guilt. 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? Acts 2:37. Conversion is in process here! They are turning away from their sin and toward the Lord Jesus Christ. They are seeking, searching, longing to know what they can do in view of their terrible sin. Men today still must be confronted with their sin before they will ever seek salvation in Christ. Conversion will never occur in the life of one who is either indifferent toward sin or who thinks he has no sin.
Having revealed that the Lord on whom men must call is the Lord Jesus Christ, and having identified that what men need to be saved from is sin there remained only one question for Peter and the apostles to answer. That question is how do we call on the Lord? Dont miss this now, dont insert your own ideas or thinking. Rather listen to the answer given by the inspired apostle. 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. Acts 2:38. The answer, then and now, remains the same: We call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation by repenting and being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ! If that isnt the answer then what is? Surely Peter wouldnt omit such an important point as this in discussing salvation.
There are other passages of scripture to consider in support of this conclusion. Acts 22:16 says And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name. Saul was told that when he was baptized this would wash away his sins and would be calling on the name of the Lord. In the acts of repenting of sin and being baptized into Christ the sinner is humbling himself and submitting to the will of Christ Jesus. He is appealing to Christ for salvation as he obeys the conditions for salvation laid down by the Lord. Consider I Peter 3:21, And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When one is baptized into Christ that very act is an appeal to God for a good and clear conscience. So it is today that we call upon the Lord for salvation by humbling ourselves, turning to Christ in faith, and submitting to His will.
We have learned from this study of Acts 2 that conversion involves the following:
Every case of conversion you study in the book of Acts will reveal this same pattern. We must follow it today if we are going to be saved from our sins. The promise of God is sure Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Do you know who the Lord is on whom you must call for salvation? Do you know what you need to be saved from and what He is willing to save you from? And finally, after our study of this chapter in Acts, do you know what to do to call on the name of the Lord?
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