This week, we finish Luke s account of Peter s sermon on the
day of Pentecost recorded in the second chapter of Acts. Last week, we examined
what Peter preached to those Jews from all over the Ancient world as
he interpreted the miraculous events of Pentecost they
had just witnessed. He
interpreted these as signs of the
new age of the Spirit spoken of by the
prophet Joel. Pentecost
marked the dawning of a new chapter in salvation history that would
be characterized by certain signs given to all those who receive the
then goes on to pronounce the
Jews guilt before God because they had consented to the
death of Jesus of Nazareth. They
were guilty of killing their exalted, Messianic King who now sits enthroned
at the right hand of God and who was pouring out the
Spirit of God. Today,
we want to examine the response of these
Jews to Peter s sermon and Peter s charge to them.
After hearing this message that so powerfully communicates their grievous
sin in killing their own Messiah, Luke records their
reaction beginning with verse 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? 38 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. 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. 41 So
those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about
three thousand souls.
Luke records about 20 messages in the
book of Acts and several calls to faith in Christ.
This call to faith in chapter two serves as something of a paradigm for us
because in all of Acts, this one most fully describes what it means to call upon the
name of the Lord in order to be saved.
Because that is Luke s main point in these
verses, this text gives us a great lesson on what is involved in a person becoming a genuine follower of Christ. When you look at all
the conversion experiences he describes in Acts, you find five components
of conversion to Christ. These are, faith placing
your faith in Christ to save you from your sin, repentance the act of faith where you turn from your
sin to Christ, baptism-- the
outward sign that indicates you have inwardly trusted in Christ, confessing
Jesus Christ as Lord where you publicly declare your new allegiance to
Christ and receiving the
Luke s account here in Acts chapter two is particularly helpful because he
explicitly gives four of these components of conversion and the
one other is strongly implied.
This truth is very important today because this whole question of what is
involved in becoming a follower of Christ is very often muddled in the
church today and the result is many false converts in the
church who think they are Christians, but who in fact have not undergone
a biblically valid conversion experience their experience does not
match up with these Luke describes
and what Peter at points prescribes. Though
every believer has a unique encounter with God when they are saved,
certain things must occur in a person if they are to be genuinely converted
to Christ. There
are some non-negotiables here that I trust we will see as we look closely at Luke s account this morning as we
allow Luke to show us: What
is involved in calling on the name of the Lord in order to be
Luke sees five components of conversion and because they all happen
on the same day in the accounts recorded in Acts, that makes many of these
conversion accounts in Acts difficult to translate to our experience where they are very seldom all experienced
on the same day.
Bob Stein describes this dynamic this way.
If Cornelius or the Philippian jailor in Acts were asked, Do you remember
when you received the
Holy Spirit? each could reply: Yes, it was when I repented; Yes, it was when I put my faith in Jesus Christ; Yes
it was when I confessed Jesus Christ as my Lord;
Yes, it was when I was baptized!
That explains why sometimes in Acts, Luke describes conversion in terms of
repenting, while at others he focuses on believing and at others,
confessing and still others being baptized.
And you can find various combinations of those five components in the
conversion narratives in Acts. That
doesn t mean that some are important and some are not.
At times, Luke just chooses to highlight some and not others. You must look at the
testimony of the entire book to get a comprehensive understanding.
As we said a few weeks ago, it s
like the various components involved in getting married.
I can ask a person about when they were married in several ways. I can ask, When did you put the ring on? Or, When did you stand up before the preacher? Or, When did you get the marriage license signed by the witnesses,
Or, (if I want to get a strange look), When
did you consummate the
All of those point to the various
components of being joined in marriage. Today, we separate
out some of the components of conversion over time and sometimes people
are sadly not baptized until long after they have received the
Holy Spirit. Because
the timing of our experience of these
five components is different than how Luke describes them in Acts, that
has lead to confusion about what is involved in salvation.
Today, some people wonder how baptism or repenting or confessing Christ as
Lord relate to receiving the Spirit.
My hope is by God s grace to help clear some of that up this morning.
This account of Pentecost is one of the
few in Acts where Luke not only describes what happens at conversion, but also what God does to prepare people
for conversion. We
see that in verse 37. The
Jews have through Peter heard God s ringing condemnation of them for
murdering his now exalted and reigning Messiah and Luke says in verse 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? Before these
people are converted and the Holy Spirit falls upon them,
the Spirit is already at work in their
lives, bringing this deeply felt conviction
of personal guilt before God.
This is important to note because it s clear that the
Holy Spirit is the One drawing them
to God. This
was not the only possible way for them to respond to this message.
As we will see many times in Acts, typically when the Jews hear the
gospel, they violently oppose it. Most of the Jews who heard the
gospel rejected it and the notion of a crucified Messiah was an enormous
affront to them a huge stumbling block.
These Jews however were deeply convinced of their
guilt before God. The
difference between these Jews in chapter two and so many of the
others in Acts is the work
of the Holy Spirit in bringing conviction of their sin upon them.
Jesus said in John 6:44, 44
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him& As
Peter is preaching, the Father
through the Holy Spirit is drawing these
people to Christ convicting them of their
guilt and their tremendous need for forgiveness before God. The response of these
Jews cannot be explained by natural means. This is the sovereign work of the
Holy Spirit convicting these people of their
guilt before God. Peter
s message was a stumbling block to the Jews but the
Holy Spirit enables them to overcome that stumbling block and convinces
them they stood condemned before a holy God, in great need of a kind of forgiveness.
They knew there was nothing they could do to make amends for their scandalous
desperation for their souls, they
ask Peter and the apostles, Brothers, what shall we do?
This element of the pre-conversion
work of God in bringing conviction to a sinner is often ignored today to our peril. Today, a person s guilt before
God if it is pressed at all, is often communicated to the sinner something
like this: You
know that everyone sins no one is perfect and you don t claim to be perfect, do you?
Well, for some reason God requires perfection
and that means that those who aren t perfect are sentenced to hell when they die.
You don t want to go to hell, do you? If
all you have to do is pray this prayer asking Jesus to come into your heart.
Are you ready to pray now?
Let s do it and Jesus will come into your
Is it possible for someone to be genuinely converted in that setting? About as possible as
a person agreeing to have major surgery when their surgeon has only
told them that they are
not well. If
you are going to submit to major surgery, you want a bit more information than that.
What opportunity was given to the
person to see their guilt before God?
Their offense is imperfection.
People don t tend to see imperfection as a grievous sin.
They don t typically feel grief over being less than perfect. That diagnosis is not
going to bring most people to any real sense of desperation about their
soul. That s not a problem that will cause most people to cry out, Brothers,
what shall we do? The
intention behind this approach is not to tell the truth to the person, it s to spare the person s feelings as much
as possible. This
would be like a surgeon looking at your x-ray showing a large cancerous growth on one of your vital organs, but
not telling you about it for fear of making you upset. Would we say that was good medicine?
No. Yet sinners we claim to love are walking around with something far worse than cancer and
we know about it and we know the cure, but we aren t saying anything to them.
This isn t about being obnoxious or arrogant.
It s about telling people the truth in love so that they can see their disease
and call on the Great Physician to bring healing to them through the cross.
The reason these Jews in Acts
chapter two were desperate about their souls is because Peter had labored
to tell them in detail from the
Scriptures their sin before a holy God he wanted them to see the depth
of their deception about the
identity of Jesus Christ and by implication, the incredible self-deception
they had about their souls. And by the
grace of God s convicting work of the Spirit, they
were cut to the heart.
something of the enormity of their
sin before God and knew they stood condemned by him needing to be saved. They were ready for
must see the point here.
Before people see their need
of a Savior, they must by the
Holy Spirit sense their deep guilt before God.
If Jesus is presented as simply a ticket to heaven for people who have not
deeply sensed their need of his saving work, genuine conversions will
That doesn t mean that every case
will be as dramatic as this one in Acts two.
In Acts 16, we read of the conversion
of Lydia in Thyatira. Luke writes, The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. The Lord was pressing
in on Lydia her need to give
heed to the gospel Paul was preaching it was for her she needed it. Like everyone else,
Lydia s heart was naturally
closed to the gospel.
But the Lord miraculously opened
it to show her that the gospel was for her she needed a Savior!
That s less dramatic than the
Jews in Acts chapter two, but just as effective.
The point for us is that we must share the
truth about sin with boldness today.
Our top priority must be speaking
the truth in love, not protecting someone s feelings.
As those who have committed ourselves to carrying our cross, we must be willing
to risk the relationship or suffer some level of persecution. That is a cost we must
count up front. In
our post-modern world where many deny even the existence of absolute
truth, this is a longer process in most cases.
In a context where the concept
of sin is rapidly eroding, this takes more work to help people understand their
need for a Savior, but God s arm is not
is still in the business of drawing people to himself as we are willing
to labor in love with others to show them
through the Holy Spirit their
need of a Savior.
As we move into the conversion
of these Jews, we see four components of their
conversion mentioned explicitly. First, we see that by God s grace they had faith
Luke doesn t mention the
word faith here, but we see it in verse 41 as he summarizes his account of this event.
He says, So those who received his
word were baptized&
To receive the word is to accept
it by faith. John
says in 1:12, 12 But
to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of
words receive and believe are used more or less synonymously there. The Jews received the
word by believing it and placing their trust in Christ to save them
from their sin.
They renounced trusting in their own performance or their status as children
of Abraham or their temple worship. The Holy Spirit had convinced them that those were inadequate to their tremendous need. They placed their hope
A second component of conversion
is really an expression of faith. It s rightly said that faith and this component are two sides of the same coin. That is they repented of their sin. When
the Jews saw their guilt
before God and asked the apostles what they
could do, Peter responds, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ. This is the
component that is perhaps most overlooked today in evangelism and the
reason is not hard to figure out. If Jesus is presented only as the answer to your sin problem, then repentance doesn t seem necessary. Just add Jesus to your
life and you will be forgiven. The
problem with that is that Peter doesn t present Jesus as simply something to add to your life or mentally assent
to in order to be forgiven. As
we said last week, Peter presents him in verse 36 as both Lord and Christ. Jesus
isn t just a Savior, he s Lord He s the King and he is building his
kingdom through the church as transformed people are added to it. In order to become
part of the kingdom of light, you must first renounce your membership
in the kingdom of darkness. That
Listen again to Jesus charge in
Luke 24:46 when he commissioned the apostles.
Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance
and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations,
beginning from Jerusalem.
When Peter tells these Jews to
repent, he is simply being faithful to the commission he received from
Acts 3:19 Peter says in another sermon, 19
therefore, and turn again, that
your sins may be blotted out, 20 that
times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send
the Christ appointed for you& The forgiveness of sins in both our text today and this one in chapter three is dependent
upon repenting. No
repentance no forgiveness. Paul
in Acts 17 as he is preaching to the scholars in Athens
says, The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people
everywhere to repent.
This command is for all people, everywhere.
In Acts 26, when Paul is summarizing
his apostolic ministry to King Agrippa, he says in verse 20 that [he]
declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout
all the region of Judea, and also to
the Gentiles, that they should repent
and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.
Testament knows nothing of salvation without repentance.
When Jesus came on the scene,
what was his gospel? In
Mark 1:14 we read, 14 Now
after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.
apostles preach a gospel of repentance for entrance into the kingdom,
they are simply repeating what they
have heard from their Master.
When Peter says in verse 40, Save yourselves from this crooked generation,
he is calling them to come out from among this sinful generation and
be different by God s grace. The
Greek word for church literally means the called
That implies repentance from the
sins of those from whom you have been called out.
So often, this crucial component of repentance is missing in the
proclamation of the gospel as people are convinced into believing the
lie that Jesus is willing to simply be an addition to their life to
keep them from hell.
There is no turning from sin no renouncing of evil just mentally agreeing
that Jesus died on the cross for your sins.
It s possible to grow a very large church with people who have been told
that you can be a Christian and go to heaven when you die while still living for yourself.
But it s not possible to be faithful to Scripture and win genuine, radically
changed converts to Christ with that message.
As we ll read in next week s text, these
Jews were radically changed by Christ and the reason is because they
had by God s grace repented of their sin.
They had received the gift of
is the fruit of genuine, saving faith.
In addition to repenting, these believers were also
baptized and publicly confessed Christ through their baptism. In baptism as Peter
teaches it, we see two components of conversion combined baptism and confessing Christ as Lord.
This is what Peter means when he calls these
Jews to &be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of you sins&
is the outward sign of what God has done inwardly in saving you. Baptism symbolically
portrays a washing, a cleansing, which is precisely what God does when he forgives or cleanses you from your sin. It is an expression
of your repentance because it communicates a willingness to publicly identify yourself with Jesus Christ. When Peter commands
that they be baptized in the
name of Jesus Christ he is not prescribing a baptismal formula.
He is saying that when you are baptized in the
name of Jesus, you are confessing that your allegiance is to him now not to yourself not to the
life you formerly lived or the gods you used to worship.
You now serve Jesus Christ.
It is a sad development that today in the church we often have a lengthy
separation of time between receiving the Spirit and being baptized.
There is some wisdom perhaps in making certain a person is showing some of
the fruits of repentance before being baptized, but to wait for several
months or even years to be baptized when it is evident a person has been converted to Christ is to separate what
God has joined together. If you are trusting in Christ, but have not
been baptized, then obey Christ and be baptized soon.
Call the church office this week
and let s talk.
The final component of conversion
is seen in verse 39. Peter
says, 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. Here
we read that they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. If we were to move
into Paul s teaching on the Spirit, we would see that receiving the
Spirit is the way he most often understands conversion. If you have not received
the Spirit, you are not converted and there
can be no
genuine saving faith or repentance. God gives the Spirit this is something he does in conversion along with forgiving our
third element of God s part in this process is in verse 39. Speaking of the
promise of the Spirit, Peter says, 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.
Peter took pains to communicate that the crucifixion of Christ was not
ultimately caused by sinful humanity, but was done according to the definite plan and foreknowledge
of God, here too he wants to make certain that the
Jews know that God, not sinful humanity is sovereign over who is saved. Those who God calls are saved through the
we answer the question what
is involved in calling on the name of the Lord? one of
the answers is those who call on the
name of the Lord are those who God has already called to himself.
As we close, let s think about some
you share the gospel with others,
do you first share the bad news of their
sin, before you share the good news of the
the bad news, there is no
need for the good news.
Unless they know they
have a terminal disease, there is no need for a radical treatment like
conversion through the cross.
By God s grace, we must love people enough to tell them
the truth about their sin
so that God can use that truth in their lives to show them
the need of the Savior. Do we call people to
repent to turn from their sin to Jesus?
The Christian life is a life of repentance.
It begins with repentance; it continues and ends with repentance. Is your life marked
by ongoing repentance of sin? How
important is baptism to us in the process?
It s clearly not necessary to be saved, but it is so frequently related to
conversion in Acts and is an important way we can obey Christ and declare our allegiance to him.
Have you been baptized as a believer and are you encouraging others
to publicly confess Jesus is the Lord of their
life through their baptism?
Are you trusting in Christ alone for your salvation not your church affiliation
or your baptism or being a nice person? Only faith in Christ alone will save us from sin.
Finally, is there evidence that
you have received the Spirit and the
life transformation he brings he takes out the heart of stone and replaces
it with a heart of flesh. He
writes the law on our hearts.
He gives us an increasing love for God, his word and God s people. Is this who you are
If you are feeling the need to get
right with God to be genuinely converted or to repent in some other way, do that today the Spirit of God is graciously
moving in your heart. Don
t continue to put him off. Come
to Christ he will not turn away anyone who comes to him no matter what you have done.
Grace is available for you.
Let s pray.