As Peter concluded his oration on Pentecost Day we see the unfolding of the first massive calling to the people and the revelation of salvation. In these few words we find an example of the Great Commission that Jesus told the disciples they were to carry out.
This day brought the beginnings of the church as the Apostles preached the word and the people recognised their sin. In these words they were offered the hope of escape and salvation from sin. Three thousand people were added to the church that day after Peter had finished his speech and preaching.
So let us look at the process as it took place. Not only were there insights into the process of these people coming to The Lord, there are also insights into the promises of God that come down to us today.
In the first couple of verses we see the people convicted of their sin as they recognise their wrongdoing.
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
The people recognised that they had been among those who had condemned Jesus to death. After seeing the outpouring of the Holy Spirit they also recognised the divine nature of Jesus from whom this gift came, and we see the horror of that recognition as they were convicted for they were “cut to the heart.”
Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. What could you possibly do to get out of their situation? When you had agreed to the condemnation and death of the Messiah, the Son of God, the prospect must have been absolutely terrifying to them.
But when they asked that question, “What shall we do?” Peter had the answer for them for The Lord came to save mankind, not destroy them.
A Way Out
In the next verse (38) we see Peter respond to the people showing them the way out and the path forward by which they would be forgiven, and more than that, they could find life.
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
These words are the essence of the Great Commission in action. When Jesus commissioned the disciples He told them to do three things:
- To make disciples of all the nations
- To baptise them in the name of Jesus
- To teach them all that The Lord had taught the disciples
This is the pathway to life. It begins with repentance followed by baptism to receive the righteousness by faith and release from sin and the law in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and then to receive the Counsellor, teacher and guide, the Holy Spirit to teach us all about the New Covenant in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When the people heard these words they jumped at the opportunity and the promise that was so graciously given by The Lord. They expected condemnation for their actions, but they received salvation. They expected death, but they received life. They came in terror and dread but they received joy and relief as they accepted The Lord Jesus on that day.
But the promises were not just for them. These same promises come to us today as well. Yet today we see that many reject some of these promises, even in the churches, for they do not realise that the promise is to them.
Promise for the Future
Look closely at what the next verses say.
39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”
Peter told them who the promises were for. They were for those who stood there in front of him, they were for their children down through the generations and also they were to those who were far off. Now I have many times made the point that we today are those who were far off, for we are many years distant from those days. That is, we are far off from them in time. Thus the promises of the freedom in Jesus Christ and the receiving of the Holy Spirit with the gifts and signs attending it, as was evidenced on the Day of Pentecost, are for us as well.
And yet there are those today who believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit were for those early days only. That speaking in tongues and the other signs were only for the first century church until the church was established and the Bible was written. They do not believe that those gifts are still given, required or relevant for today.
They are wrong!
If we look at the last words of verse 39 we see that these gifts were for, “… everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Do you believe that The Lord has called you to Himself? I’m sure you do, as I am sure all Christians do too! And then if that is true, then all of the gifts that were on offer that day are also offered to us today. The gift of the Holy Spirit along with all of the other spiritual gifts, and with the salvation and freedom from sin, freedom from the law and so on are all still on offer to mankind today, if they will come to Jesus to be saved and follow Him.
Look at some of the other scriptures in the Bible and you see that this is consistent with the rest of scripture. For example we see that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Also Paul wrote that, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29)
If we consider just these two verses in conjunction with Acts 2:39 it is evident that nothing has changed to take away these gifts. Everything that was established through the death and resurrection of Jesus still stands as solid as a rock today. All of those gifts are still given today. It is because many people and churches do not understand the purpose of the gifts and why they were given that they believe they are no longer necessary. And they do not understand because they have not been given the understanding which comes through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. How can they when they reject the need to receive the Holy Spirit and the gifts of God saying they were for another age?
As to the relevance of speaking in tongues today, look at what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10.
8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect;
10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.
Those who say speaking in tongues is no longer relevant often use this scripture to back up their position claiming that the perfect has come through the love of God and/or the completion of the written Bible.
However, who amongst mankind can claim to be perfect? No one can for if they were they would be already in the image of Jesus Christ, and as we know, man was born into sin and can only be set free through Jesus Christ. And besides, we would ALL have to be perfect for this to be true, and it is clear that not all Christians are perfect yet.
And consider the rest of these words. Is our knowledge perfect? Do all Christians agree 100% on the truth of the New Covenant? For goodness sake, they still fight among themselves and argue the point about doctrines and teachings and so on! So our knowledge is still far from being perfect. We are all still learning and in need of learning to be able to grow into maturity in Jesus Christ.
And if our knowledge is not perfect, then the perfect has not yet come. And if the perfect has not yet come then prophecy and tongues have not yet ceased. Why? Because they are needed to help us in our walk as we come closer to Jesus to find perfection. These gifts were given to His people to help us as we walk with Christ. If we reject His gifts, how will we ever come to the place of perfection in Christ?
Consider these as part of the sword of the Spirit, which is exactly what they are. Would a soldier go into battle without a gun or a weapon? Then why would a Christian go into spiritual battle without the weapons of the Spirit, for that is exactly what those who reject the gifts of the spirit would have us do! Is it any wonder so many Christians suffer needlessly when their teachers do not prepare them for the war they are fighting in the spiritual realm!
So the promise of salvation and all of the gifts of the spirit are still open today as they were in Peter’s day. Nothing has changed and nor will it until The Lord returns and reigns over the earth. If anything we need these gifts even more today as the end days approach and the activity of Satan increases as prophesied in the writings of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.
Take the promise of salvation on board. Make it your own and use the gifts to draw near to Jesus Christ and to God. All that was written 2,000 years ago is still here today. While you have the time, make use of what The Lord has offered before it is too late.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Richard Soh)
You might also like:
Out Of The Abundance Of The Heart The Mouth Speaks
The Promise To Jesus Followers
Labourers In The Vineyard
Jesus Feeds The Five Thousand
I Am The Good Shepherd
The Promise Of The Holy Spirit
Unlocking The Promises Of God To The Gentiles
Who Are The Little Flock
He Came To Save The Lost
The Son Of Man Will Be Lifted Up
Jesus Came To Save Not To Condemn
Plotting Against Jesus