The ACTS Files – Acts 2:36-41 – Peter’s Sermon (Part four) – 03/14/2016
Acts 2:36 (ESV) 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?” 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.
Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article is part four in a four part series of verses which are collectively called “Peter’s Sermon”. I personally love these verses because it shows the work done in the life of the Apostle Peter from when he denied Christ at Passover to this dynamic preacher at Pentecost. (Time elapsed was less than two months!) My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in verse thirty six…
V36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Peter culminates his sermon with these words and states with absolute certainty who he is taking about with authority and a challenge to the nation of Israel. The challenge was that even although Jesus was crucified in the manner of a criminal when in fact he should have been treated the way God does (as Lord and Christ) and he is due the same honor as the Old Testament LORD.
He is stated as being both Lord and Christ and how true is that? This is where we separate from our friends at the JW’s (Jehovah’s Witnesses) when we call Jesus Lord and Christ and make him equal with God in the same manner that Peter did. Let’s see how the people responded…
V37 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?”
They were literally convicted in their heart by Peter telling them the truth, there was no mega church, no lights, no smoke machines, no eloquent tugging at the hearts altar call to repentance. Whilst all of those things are good in their own way and serve a purpose Peter simply told the truth and allowed the Holy Spirit to work on the people.
Never underestimate the need for the gospel to be preached in Spirit and in truth! You want to know how you can spark a revival in your area? Then teach the word of God in spirit and in truth and leave the results up to the Holy Spirit, pray for those in your area, be there if your neighbors have questions, be diligent in your life to show a good example and preach and teach the word in season and out of season.
They were “cut to their heart” because they recognized their shared guilt in the death of Jesus Christ and wanted to do something about it. I recognize this as I used to have a very hard heart also and when God started working on my heart I came closer to him and would actually go out of my way (my church was 20 miles away) and from the beginning of that journey started the Christian journey I am on today. I had to realize like they did that I was a sinner and needed a redeemer and savior, until you fully grasp the gravity of that situation then you will not see the need to submit your life to a Savior you are not even sure you need.
They did ask the right question, they wanted to know how this could be remedied and how they could be redeemed by the messiah. They were now open to hearing the basics of salvation and Peter states below…
V38 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.
Peter responds with boldness and states what needs to be done and that is correct even today because we are not born “Christians” and here is what Peter told them to do…
- Repent – The starting point of any relationship with Jesus Christ is the repentance, the true apology for the sins that have committed and a committal to turn from those sins and living according to the will of God. It is the ultimate life change, that you do not have to continue in the old ways, that you have the opportunity to turn to God.
- Be baptized – Baptism was an outward symbol that they were now Christians, the symbolism in Romans 6 showing a death to the old life when the person who was being baptized went down and a rise in new life when they come out of the water.
Peter also gives the reasoning behind this and this was “for the forgiveness of your sins” which reconciled man to God and changed your eternal destination. This was the point of the whole sermon, to convict in the hearts enough to ask what they needed to do to become Christians. Peter accomplished more in one sermon than many pastors do in an entire career. Peter continues to share God’s promise…
V39 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.”
The people who were hearing that message had an opportunity to not only change their future but direct the future of faith for generations to come. Never underestimate the impact you can have in the faith of your children and succeeding generations. Your children are your closest witnesses and your staunchest critics to how real your faith is. This promise is even alive today because the work of the Holy Spirit is not a spectator sport and we have to be active in our faith.
He said many other things that are not listed verbatim and you can be guaranteed that Peter’s sermon was not a small devotion, more like a lengthy exhortation filled with spiritual jewels and Peter was not the man to do a placid sermon. He was an enthusiastic guy and you can read from the text that he was urging the crowd to come to their messiah, surrender and repent.
He finishes with his left hook “Save yourselves from this crooked generation” and how apt is that? This generation was under Roman rule, themselves a very carnal occupier who ruled with a man who could not make a decisive decision whether to crucify Jesus or not and instead leaving it up to popular opinion. A man who ruled by popular opinion as opposed to what was right. This generation was ruled by a puppet king called Herod who again ruled a tight line between Roman expectations and the Religious rulers expectations and he was very much a king of compromise.
And as for the religious leaders themselves, what a corrupt lot! They are the ones who are meant to know better and were meant to be looking out for the messiah, they are the very ones who plotted to get rid of him because he was showing them up for the hollow religious shells that they were. Is there anything more perverse than proclaiming a desire for the messiah and a love for God while you are trying to have him crucified? They sealed their title of perverse by having Jesus arrested and placed him in a kangaroo court in the dead of night in order to impose their will without causing a riot in the city. (Path of least resistance)
And so it goes until present day and these words could be applied to our generation just as easily and I could list the ways in which we have strayed from God. As Christians we need to be the ones to show by our lives in the way the disciples did that we are the real deal, we need to love our neighbor, we need to look after the widows and orphans and we need to preach the Word as boldly as Peter did on that day at Pentecost. Let’s look at Romans chapter 1…
Romans 1:16 (ESV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Are you ashamed of the gospel? Is there something that is prohibiting you from sharing the good news of Jesus with someone in your circle of influence? Do the people who know you most even know you are a Christian? I am not asking you to join Greg Laurie on stage at Harvest America but I am asking you to move the needle for Jesus in your neighborhood. Look at the potential results…
V41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Remember at the beginning of the day we were looking at 120 people being part of the fellowship and after the day of Pentecost we had 3000 souls added on that day. Can you imagine that Baptismal service, the people baptizing must have been soaked! Think of what an impact that was and let’s look at the people who were saved that day. I also love that in other translations it adds the word gladly, there was no forced conversions or pressure or people relying on emotional responses it was simply people dedicating their lives to Jesus Christ.
Pentecost was a time that devout Jews from several nations came to Jerusalem, we saw that earlier in the chapter devout Jews from many nations were there and it was very God that the Holy Spirit came down at the first available opportunity to have a massive impact in so many people’s lives! What a big God we serve! Also What a response to the Word of God! I pray for that to happen again and I believe that the game changer is the Word of God in people’s lives.
Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we look at verses forty two through forty seven where we see the continued fruit of Peter’s sermon and the establishment of the church of the Way. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.