THE BOOK OF ACTS
God Establishes His Church in the World
"The Passion of a Young Church"
Jerry A Collins
The most momentous question anyone can ask is Ďwhat must I do to be saved"? A wrong answer to that question not matter how correct a personís beliefs in other areas is the path to eternal devastation. It is so vitally important that this question be answered correctly, that Satan confuses the issue with deception, alternatives, debate and ignorance. The result is many wrong answers each perverting the truth of Christ and scripture. There are a number of these in the world today.
First, The legalist may argue that salvation comes through a works-righteousness system. There is a way you can participate in your own salvation. But Rom 3:20 says "By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His site".
Second, the moralist believes that as long as his good deeds outweigh his bad ones in Godís site he will be alright in eternity. But Rom 3:23 says "There is none righteous, not even one".
Third, the schemistís, like Hindu, Mormon, Catholic, Buddhist, Christian Scientist, JWís have custom-designed ritual schemes for people to secure their salvation.
Unfortunately, these perversions have secured numerous followers by misrepresenting & misinterpreting scripture or devising their own. Unlike these false systems, Peter gives the answer Christ gave.
1. WE ARE SAVED WHEN WE CHANGE OUR MIND ABOUT JESUS CHRIST BECAUSE OF SIN
The conclusion to his message was devastating. So much so they were pierced to the heart. These people had their eyes opened. Stunned by their inability to evade the indictment (vs 36) that they were guilty as charged were overcome with remorse because of it. There were several reasons for this remorse.
(1) They realized they had executed the Messiah vs 36. Instead of welcoming him they had rejected him, handed him over to the civil and religious authorities.
(2) They had done it themselves. It would have been bad enough but because of the forgiveness of your sins. Scripture teaches that salvation is by faith (Acts 16:31; to learn Christ had been killed. But they were accomplices in this injustice.
(3) They were anguished for fear of Messiahs wrath against them. Peter had announced that He was alive (24, 31-32). He quoted Psa 110 speaking of Messiah making his enemies his footstool.
They sought desperately for a way to make right the wrong they had done. Their request illustrates that of a convicted sinner. Conviction is used by the HS to open a heart to salvation. An indictment for sin is an essential part of any gospel presentation. People need conviction of sin as they see their need for a Savior. So the HS brings these people to point of desperation as they hear the word spoken to them.
The answer is to repent. For many people repentance carries the idea of sorrow for sin or turning from sin and going in a different direction. 58 times this word is used in the NT and means a change of mind that results in a change of action. It refers to the thinking of people who thot one thing and then based on further evidence changed their minds. In passages where salvation is in view, repentance is changing oneís mind about Jesus Christ and the gospel. So what is Peter asking these to repent of? Peter had concluded his message by claiming the God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified vs 36. So Peter told them to change their minds about Jesus of Nazareth. Acknowledge that Jesus is God and Savior and that He alone can deliver you from sin. Do that first, and then be baptized in that name. In other words mark a public break with Judaism and ID with Jesus. It is not for the purpose of Rom 3:21-30; Gal 2:16). Throught Acts forgiveness is linked to repentance not baptism (3:19; 5:31; 26:20). Repentance is for forgiveness. Baptism follows forgiveness and does not cause it. Water baptism is a biblically based opportunity to worship God by which we identify with Christ, expressing our desire to be numbered as one of His disciples. Then they would also receive the gift of the HS. Gift coveys the idea of free and unmerited. Everyone receives this gift at salvation. This promise he says is not only for then but their children, the nation as the OT promised and to us, the Gentiles (Eph 2:11-13). God Himself is sovereign in this work and here is our responsibility to repent and Gods to save us. Then in vs40 we see that Luke has only given us a synopsis of Peterís message the gist of which was be saved from this perverse generation.
The ones believing were then baptized about 3000 of them. This suggests that they were keeping track of those saved and baptized.
2. SALVATION BRINGS YOU INTO A NEW COMMUNITY 42-47
This new community of believers is distinguished in a number of ways.
First, it was a scriptural community. The content of this church is the revealed word of God. A commitment to the apostles teaching today foundational for every believer (1 Pt 2:2; 1 Tim 4:6, 11, 13, 16; 2 Tim 4:1-2).
Second, it was a fellowshipping community. The basic idea is partnership or sharing together. Most of these were strangers but now are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are to love one another and begin to display the body life in Christ we already possess.
Third, it was a Christ-centered community. Whenever they shared communion supper together they remembered the sacrificial salvation of Jesus Christ for each of them, even the ones who participated in his crucifixion.
Fourth, it was a praying community. Now that Jesus Christ was absent, prayer became the means of communicating messages to God while He was not visibly manifested to them. What was the effect of life in this new community?
First, a fearful effect vs 43. There was a fear or holy terror as they realized God hand at work amongst them.
Second, a miraculous effect vs 43. The wonders and signs designed to attract attention and point to spiritual truth.
Third, a sharing effect vs 44-46. They possessed both spiritual unity and practical oneness. They sold personal property as anyone might have need. Indicates immense generosity as they gave to those of their number in need. Perhaps for the pilgrims who chose to stay in town now that they were part of this new community of God.
Fourth, a joyful effect vs 46-47. This unified miraculous sharing community was rejoicing, sincere of heart, praising God reciting His works and attributes.
Fifth, an attractive effect vs 47. Favor with all the people. Their witness was making an impact on others.
Sixth, a growing effect vs 47. This is all the Lords doing (1st progress report of several by Luke).