Many people have tried to run away from God since the beginning of time. Although running is a fruitless exercise, so many try … and I say this from personal experience. When I was 13 years old the Holy Spirit started to work in my heart. The pastor of the Church was quite evangelistic and the message got to me. I really thought I had given my life to the Lord Jesus, got involved in the Church, ran a youth group, joined the adult Bible Study and Prayer Group … only to find myself drifting into the dark desert of sin and rebellion, questioning everything about God. This was the start of the run … trying to block God out of the mind and thoughts until in my late 20’s God started to work again … and grabbed my attention, touched my soul and saved my soul. God started to work in my heart when I was 13 … and soon I ran until all roads away from God were blocked off and He won … as He always does! It is estimated that at Jesus’ time, about 100,000 people attended Pentecost. Most of these were religious people … for many of those in Judaism had lapsed into legalistic religion. It is difficult to say how many heard Peter’s Provocative, Penetrating, Pentecostal Preaching, but we know that about three thousand were added to their number on that glorious day. This means the group would have been far bigger than the “about three thousand”. Maybe some of the group that come to faith in verse 41 had been running from God … but God caught up with them at Pentecost. Our text today reads:
Ac 2:37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
1) The people heard the message. In other words, these people paid attention. They listened. They concentrated. They were focused. The is what we need to pray for in our Churches today … that people will come prepared to listen, focus and think through the sermons preached Sunday by Sunday. When they do this, two things happen. The first is that they learn discernment enabling them to know whether the message they hear is truth or error … whether it is solid meat or candy floss. The second is that they eat hungrily from the Word and feed their souls.
2) The people were cut to the heart. The Holy Spirit was present. He took the Gospel Message … which included their personal responsibility for Jesus’ death … and allowed it to gel with their understanding. Luke tells us they were “cut to the heart”. They understood and they realized their responsibility before God was their personal sin and their accountability was what they do with the Gospel Message. They were pierced to the heart because they put David’s heir, the Messiah who would sit on David’s throne to death! The long expected Savior … they crucified!
3) The people wanted to know what they should do about what they heard. Interestingly, they called the apostles “brothers” … “brothers, what shall we do?” This shows they were under immense conviction. They did not just understand the message, they understood their personal guilt. The Holy Spirit was applying pressure to their souls. Many people hear the Gospel and experience this piercing of the heart and either they are not counselled correctly and lose the conviction or they refuse to do anything about it and remain lost, helpless and hopeless. The most sensible thing anyone can do is to follow Peter’s instructions …
4) The people were told by Peter to repent and then be baptized.
Ac 2:38 Peter replied, “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.”
(1) Repentance presupposes faith and understanding. You see, you cannot repent unless you know what you need to repent from … what you need to turn away from. Because Peter adds … in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, repentance would include turning away from the old master
Eph 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient
to a new Master … the Lord Jesus Christ. Within this transition there would be turning from sin to the holy life Jesus requires. This is an act of faith … believing Jesus is everything the Gospel says about Him. Then, repentance presupposes confession of sin. This means the repentant soul has asked for forgiveness of all sin.
(2) Baptism is not a ritual. It is an acknowledgement that repentance (faith in Jesus and confession of sin with an assurance that forgiveness and salvation has been secured) is genuine and the new believer wants to acknowledge the transition from satan’s demonic prison to Jesus’ glorious kingdom of freedom. That is, the believer is now a committed, intentional member of the Kingdom where Jesus is Lord and King. Just in case there are those present who are thinking this is just another religious ritual …
(3) God’s Gift provides the assurance of genuine conversion … And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit births the new believers into the Kingdom of God. Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to be born again. This is exactly what the reception of the Holy Spirit means … new birth … new life … new Lord and Master.
5) The people were given a promise.
Ac 2:39 “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
The key to this verse is the effectual call of God … when God calls the running away stops and people … family members are also saved. 6) The people heard further applications to Peter’s sermon
Ac 2:40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
The warning was not to ignore or neglect the call this message gives … because if you do, you will lose your soul to the devil permanently!
Father God, thank You for Your Spirit who enables faith, repentance and the new birth. Save hearers of the Gospel, please. Amen.