They say: What shall we do?
Good question! They were cut to the heart and said men and brethren, what shall we do?
Every one of us has to come to a point in our lives where we come to ask this question: What am I going to do about Jesus? Am I going to accept Him or reject Him? Am I going to give my life to Him and follow Him or am I going to turn away and go my own way?
That’s the most Important decision that anybody can make in their life because it affects where you’re going to go for eternity, whether to Heaven or to Hell.
And they ask this question: what shall I do? And Peter tells them:
Peter tells them to do three things:
- To repent. ‘Repent’ means to turn around, to change your mind, to change the direction you’re going in and to check back to God. To change your mind about what God says and to believe in Jesus.
- He tells the men to be baptized in the name of Jesus or Yeshua Hamashiach for the remission of sins. To be baptized into the name of Salvation, Yeshua Hamashiach, the Messiah. And, if you are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ or Yeshua Hamashiach, you are acknowledging that you believe that Jesus is the way of Salvation, that He is the Messiah, the One who died for your sins and rose from the dead. It’s a public declaration of your faith In Jesus the Messiah.
And so there are two things which you have to do. One is to repent, and the other is to be baptized in the name of Jesus.
Of course, that’s why we don’t baptize babies, because babies can’t repent of their sins, only people who are old enough to understand the Gospel can repent and believe the Gospel.
So Peter tells us to repent and believe in Jesus, and, thirdly, he says:
Therefore, the condition for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is to first to repent, then to be baptized, to declare publicly your faith In Jesus. Then, to receive the Holy Spirit.
Now, one has to say that there are people who receive the Holy Spirit before they are baptized. In fact, it even happens in the Book of Acts, in chapter 11.
But that is the order which generally God wants to have: first repent, then, be baptized, then receive the Holy Spirit. It may happen all in one go, it may happen in two ‘gos’ but, actually, on this particular occasion, you see that three thousand people were baptized on that very same day and received the Holy Spirit.
He also says that the gift is to you and your children. In other words, it’s to you here and to future generations, to you people who are here in Jerusalem, and to all who are far off.
In other words, people all over the world. So, all over the world, God is saying to people: repent and believe, and receive the Holy Spirit.
And this Is the message of the Gospel which was preached first on the day of Pentecost and which continues to be preached throughout the earth until the day of the Second Coming of Jesus. And it’s the way in which you can be saved and enter into Heaven and have a future in Jesus Christ.
It’s also the birth of the church as the Holy Spirit convicts these people here of sin, and righteousness, and judgment, leads them to the Truth that Jesus is the Messiah, and to the One Way of Salvation, and they repent and believe the Gospel and so, are saved.
Then, we see that it speaks about the growth of the church. That this, Peter says, is the next thing: to be saved from this perverse generation.
What does Peter mean when he says be saved from this perverse generation? One of the things which it tells you is that we live in a world which is not going God’s way. So, it’s contrary to God, a wicked and perverse generation. Do we live today in a wicked and perverse generation? I’m afraid we do.
One of the Issues which often comes into the debate today is that if the church is strong enough, we’re going to save the whole world, and the whole world is going to turn to Jesus Christ. That is what we call ‘Kingdom and Dominion theology’, which means that ‘you get filled with the Holy Spirit, you perform signs and wonders, and then you’re going to bring the whole world to Jesus Christ‘.
The Bible doesn’t actually say that. The Bible says that there’s going to be “the wheat“, which is sown by God the Holy Spirit, and “the tares“, which are sown by the devil. And these two are going to grow side by side until the Second Coming of Jesus.
Our job now is to be saved from this wicked and perverse generation, to turn away from it at the end of the age when Jesus is going to judge the world in righteousness. He is then going to separate the good from the evil. But, until that time, they’re going to grow together so, until that time, our job is to repent and to follow Jesus, and to be redeemed, and to be saved from the wrath to come which God is going to bring on the world because of its sin and rebellion against God.
So, we then have the response which is that those who receive the word were baptized and 3,000 people were saved on that one day.
It is interesting that, in the Book of Exodus chapter 32, as a result of Israel sinning in making the golden calf, 3,000 people were killed on that day.
You have again the typological significance in so far as the Torah actually brings judgment while the gift of the Holy Spirit brings Salvation. Three thousand are killed after the giving of the Torah, and three thousand are saved after the giving of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit actually brings us into this new relationship with God which God wants to continue.
So, we see the next thing. It says: they continued steadfastly, verse 42:
They continued in four things here, and it speaks of the apostles’ doctrine meaning:
- The teaching of the Word of God
- The breaking of bread in remembrance of Jesus’ death and resurrection
- Fellowship, and
That’s actually the basis of what the church should be.
It should be a place where you teach the Gospel, where you remember Jesus’ death and resurrection, where you have fellowship with one another, where you pray to God and you pray for one another.
Where you have those things in operation, the Holy Spirit is working in the church.
If those things are not there, if they’re not teaching the Word of God, they’re not teaching the apostles’ doctrine then, the Holy Spirit will not be there. You have a lot of churches today which don’t have the Holy Spirit because they’re not teaching the Gospel, they’re not teaching the Word of God.
Hopefully, in this church, we do preach the Word of God and, therefore, we believe the Holy Spirit is with us as we have fellowship with one another, as we pray for one another, and we remember the Lord in His death and resurrection.
It goes on to say that:
Now one of the things you have to be a little careful of when you read the Book of Acts is that not everything is repeated. Some things are what we call ‘descriptive’, they’re describing what happened, they’re not ‘prescriptive’, they’re not what should happen every time.
You don’t find in the rest of the Book of Acts that when people were saved they sold their belongings and lived together in some kind of commune. They did it on this occasion; this was a special event which took place and describes what happened there.
I tell you that because, when I first became a Christian, I was quite influenced by a lot of things around me and, back in the 70s, in the early 70s, a group came along called The Children of God. They told you that everyone should join their commune, that everyone should sell all their belongings and join their commune because that’s what it says in the Book of Acts. And a lot of people did that and ended up in a cultish organization which controlled people. Actually, as you lost your possessions, you lost your ability to run your own life and you were totally under the control of the organization.
Thankfully, we didn’t do it, we didn’t join it but, at one point, I was tempted to do so and it would have been a disaster.
We have to reckon, we have to discern the Word of God and know that there are some things which apply to the situation then, and there are some things which apply continually to us today.
The bit about repenting, and believing, and being baptized, and being filled with the Holy Spirit applies to the church right throughout the age.
There are some things which describe what happened in that event and, in fact, in this chapter in the Book of Acts, the tongues of fire and the mighty rushing wind only happened in Acts chapter 2, it didn’t happen elsewhere when the Holy Spirit came.
Even the languages that could be heard and understood only happened in Acts chapter 2, it didn’t happen elsewhere in the rest of the Book of Acts.
We do have evidence of the Holy Spirit coming and people speaking in tongues and prophesying, we have miracles taking place. In fact, we have another debate in the church about whether that was just for that age or for all time. I believe it was not just for that age, it was something which God gave for all time, but that is another question which we’ll look at another time.
However, we have to recognize that, what is clear in this chapter, is that God wants us to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to have Him living in us by the Spirit.
And He also wants us to point people to Jesus, to tell people the Gospel, and encourage them to believe in Jesus as our Saviour, and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as God enables us to do so.
There’s also another question which I’m not going to get into because time is almost gone and which divides Christians. It is about whether ‘it’s all one package, whether you’re born of the Spirit, baptized of the Spirit at the same time whether there is an experience of being born of the Spirit, and later, a ‘second blessing’, as some call it, of being baptized In the Holy Spirit.‘
My experience was to actually receive Jesus as Saviour and then, being prayed for and receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, this taking place slightly later. And I believe that there is room for both experiences. We need to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.
It’s not just a one-off. It should be part of our lives daily – to be filled with the Spirit – to have God dwelling in us by His Spirit, to preach the Word of God, and to make sure that we live in the light of God’s Word, and praise Him, and bless Him.
The last verse speaks about God. They were praising God, having favour with all the people and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
And our desire is that the Lord should add to the church those who are being saved through faith in Jesus the Messiah.
It’s all about Jesus in the end. As I said, the Holy Spirit comes and Peter then preaches about Jesus. He tells people to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The work of the Holy Spirit is always to point us to Jesus, to point us to the Truth that He died for our sins, that He rose from the dead, that He’s alive today, and that, if we call upon His name, we will be saved for eternity and have eternal life.
So, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. Give glory to His name.
As we look at the world in its darkness, its confusion, if we believe in Him, we have a glorious future, a glorious hope, and it’s well worth whatever sacrifice you have to make for Jesus. Your sacrifice for Jesus is well worth it because, in the end, you have a glorious future in His Kingdom. Praise the Lord.