Acts 2:37-40

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 29, 1997

Introduction

When the people in the city heard the sound of the rushing wind, they all began to crowd around outside where the disciples were, and though some wondered what was going on, others mocked saying the disciples were drunk.

Peter got up and gave a sermon, and using various Scriptures, explained several things -

    1. He explained that the work of the Spirit was prophesied by Joel.
    2. He explained that Jesus had been raised from the dead, as prophesied by David.
    3. He explained that Jesus had ascended into heaven, as also prophesied by David.

Peter is now done with his sermon, and the people begin to respond to the message.

:37 when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart

pricked Ė katanusso - to prick, to pierce, to sting sharply, to stun

This is what we call "conviction" - a sense that Iíve done wrong and I need help.

Sometimes itís accompanied by feelings like anxiety, guilt, heaviness, and depression.

Lesson #1:

Conviction versus condemnation.

Thereís a similar word we use, "condemnation", but thereís a practical difference between conviction and condemnation.

Conviction pushes you towards God for help.

Condemnation pushes you away from God.

The Holy Spirit brings conviction.

Satan brings condemnation.

(Rom 8:1 KJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus Ö

An example of conviction and condemnation Ö

Peter Cartwright (1785-1872) tells of his conversion, and though itís a little on the dramatic side, it reminds us of what conviction is all about. When he was sixteen Ö

Some days after this, I retired to a cave on my father's farm to pray in secret. My soul was in an agony; I wept, I prayed, and said, "Now, Lord, if there is mercy for me, let me find it," and it really seemed to me that I could almost lay hold of the Savior, and realize a reconciled God.

All of a sudden, such a fear of the Devil fell upon me that it really appeared to me that he was surely personally there, to seize and drag me down to hell, soul and body, and such a horror fell on me that I sprang to my feet and ran to my mother at the house. My mother told me this was a device of Satan to prevent me from finding the blessing then. Three months rolled away, and still I did not find the blessing of the pardon of my sins.

Then he talks about going to a "revival" meeting.

Ö To this meeting I repaired--a guilty, wretched sinner. On the Saturday evening, I went with weeping multitudes and bowed before the stand and earnestly prayed for mercy. In the midst of a solemn struggle of soul, an impression was made on my mind, as though a voice said to me, "Thy sins are all forgiven thee." Divine light flashed all round me, unspeakable joy sprung up in my soul.

Thereís two things at work here, both bringing conviction.

Lesson #2:

Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would bring conviction:

(John 16:7-8 KJV) Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. {8} And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

"reprove" Ė often translated "convict".

Jesus has now left, and the Holy Spirit has come, bringing conviction.

Note: Itís not "me" that brings conviction, but the Holy Spirit.

There are times when I try to "play Holy Spirit" and convict people.

But true, godly conviction comes from a person responding to the work of the Holy Spirit in their life.

If this is so, then for me to be the most useful to God that I can be, I need to be a person who is filled continually with the Holy Spirit.

Remember what Jesus said Ė

(Acts 1:8 KJV) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

I might find that even when Iím not even trying to "convict" people, but Iím just walking in the power of the Spirit, that people will be convicted, simply because the Holy Spirit is working through me.

Lesson #3:

Conviction comes from Godís Word.

As Peter got up to answer the people, he answered with Scripture, the Word of God.

The Word of God brings conviction.

(Heb 4:12 KJV) For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

We need to be using the Bible when we talk to people about their need for God.

Illustration

Billy Grahamís crisis of faith.

He had been in the ministry as a traveling evangelist with Youth for Christ for four years (1945-1949), but had come to a crossroads.

One of his close friends, Chuck Templeton, had gone off to Princeton Seminary for education, and had came away a sense that the Bible was a nice book, but wasnít particularly inspired or very reliable.

This was bothering him as he went off to a conference in California at Forest Home led by the Bible teacher Henrietta Mears. He writes, (Just As I Am, pg.138-139)

"During the week, I had times of prayer and private discussion with Miss Mears at her cottage. Rarely had I witnessed such Christian love and compassion as she had for those students. She had faith in the integrity of the Scriptures, and an understanding of Bible truth as well as modern scholarship. I was desperate for every insight she could give me.

"By contrast, Chuck Templeton had a passion for intellectualism that had been stimulated by his studies. He made no attempt to hide his feelings about me. "Billy, youíre fifty years out of date. People no longer accept the Bible as being inspired the way you do. Your faith is too simple. Your language is out of date. Youíre going to have to learn the new jargon if youíre going to be successful in your ministry Ö"

One night, he went out for a walk at Forest Home, and struggled over the validity of Godís Word Ö

"The exact wording of my prayer is beyond recall, but it must have echoed my thoughts: "O God! There are many things in this book I do not understand. There are many problems with it for which I have no solution. There are many seeming contradictions. There are some areas in it that do not seem to correlate with modern science. I canít answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions Chuck and others are raising."

"I was trying to be on the level with God, but something remained unspoken. At last the Holy Spirit freed me to say it. "Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word Ė by faith! Iím going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word."

"When I got up from my knees at Forest Home that August night, my eyes stung with tears. I sensed the presence and power of God as I had not sensed it in months. Not all my questions were answered, but a major bridge had been crossed. In my heart and mind, I knew a spiritual battle in my soul had been fought and won."

It was from that point in 1949, that Billyís ministry began to take off. He headed off to do a "campaign" in Los Angeles which ended up lasting for eight weeks. Hundreds of thousands heard him, thousands responded to accept Christ as their Savior, and it all brought Billy into a ministry that would take him all over the world, preaching to millions and millions of people.

This is why when Billy preaches, you will hear him say over and over again, "The Bible says Ö"

Please donít misunderstand me on this -

Iím not saying that there arenít answers to the questions that people raise about so called "problems" in the Bible.

There ARE answers!

The point Iím making is that God desires you to come to the point where you are going to admit that this Bible is Godís inspired Word, and youíre going to learn to live by every word in it.

Lesson #4:

The Bible is powerful whether you believe it or not.

You might say to me, "But how can I use the Bible to tell my friends about Jesus when they donít believe in the Bible!"

The fact that they donít believe in the Bible isnít really all that relevant.

Illustration

A robber comes into a bank and tells the teller to give him all the money.

As he pulls out his gun to show the teller, the teller responds, "But I donít believe in guns!" "Iíve never seen a gun hurt anybody, and I donít believe that yours can hurt me!"

Will that kind of reasoning keep a bullet from ripping through his body if the robber pulls the trigger?

The Bible is the "sword of the Spirit", and it is going to work in peopleís hearts, whether or not they believe in it.

Just use it.

Lesson #5:

Anger or Conviction

"But my friends keep getting angry with me when I talk to them about the Lord"

I think itís important that we donít try to "over-do" our witnessing.

Itís important that we realize that we canít save anybody.

We speak the truth, the Spirit brings conviction, and itís up to that person to respond.

But keep in mind, they may be getting angry because theyíre under conviction.

Illustration

Thereís an old Eskimo proverb that says, "If you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that barks the loudest is the one that got hit."

If your friends are giving you an especially hard time, itís possible that theyíre just under conviction.

:37 and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles,

Apparently, the crowd didnít see Peter as the sole guy in charge, but just one of the twelve apostles.

:37 Men and brethren, what shall we do?

Keep in mind, in a way, Peter has already told them what to do when he quoted from Joel 2 Ė

(Acts 2:21 KJV) And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Peter has already told them that itís simply a matter of calling on the Lord.

Itís simply a matter of trusting that God is going to save you. Itís a matter of faith.

Lesson:

Salvation comes by faith.

Some people might look at Peterís response here and say that we are saved by our repenting.

But Peter has already told them that they need to call upon the Lord, to trust God to save them.

When Paul was in prison in Philippi, an earthquake opened up the prison, and freaked out the jailer Ė

(Acts 16:29-31 KJV) Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, {30} And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? {31} And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

For this man, this was the first heís heard anything from Paul, and so Paul starts at the starting point, which is believing.

Lesson:

Salvation faith is proved by deeds.

The problem is, these people havenít quite figured out what Peter is talking about.

They need a little more idea of what it means to trust God.

James writes:

James 2:14-18 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can't save anyone. {15} Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, {16} and you say, "Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well"--but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? {17} So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all--it is dead and useless. {18} Now someone may argue, "Some people have faith; others have good deeds." I say, "I can't see your faith if you don't have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deeds."

Salvation, being saved from your sins, comes the moment you trust Jesus to pay for them.

But the only way to know if it was a real faith or not, is to see whether it is a faith that produces good works.

The good works donít save you, they only proved that youíre saved.

Illustration

A husband tells his wife that he loves her.

Yet he lies to her, and does things to hurt her.

Is this a true love? No.

A manís deeds donít make him love his wife, they just prove whether or not itís a real love.

:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent Ö

repent Ė metanoeo - to change one's mind

Iím curious what goes through out minds when someone says the word "repent".

Some people have the idea it means to "be sorry for" your sin.

Some people have the idea that it means you apologize a lot about your sin.

The Bible indicates that true "repentance" involves a change in your thinking and a change in the direction of your life.

Illustration - If youíre life is heading north on the 101 freeway, repenting means to get off the freeway, and get back on heading south.

Lesson:

True repentance.

Paul writes:

(2 Cor 7:8-11 NLT) I am no longer sorry that I sent that letter to you, though I was sorry for a time, for I know that it was painful to you for a little while. {9} Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to have remorse and change your ways (KJ Ė "sorrowed to repentance"). It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. {10} For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow. But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death. {11} Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish the wrongdoer. You showed that you have done everything you could to make things right.

Itís a true change of direction.

:38 and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins

for the remission of sins Ė or, "the forgiveness of sins", the idea is the "release from the debt" of sin.

The word "for" can carry two different ideas. If you saw a wanted poster that said, "Jesse James Wanted for Robbery", it could mean that you "want to see Jesse James so he can commit a robbery for you", or it can mean you "want to see Jesse James because he has committed robbery".

We are not baptized in order to receive forgiveness of sins, we are baptized because we have received forgiveness of sins.

Note: This is what we call "believerís baptism".

This is being baptized in response to coming to know Jesus Christ personally.

Personally, I donít see any Scripture that points to baptizing infants.

Baptism in the Bible is always done in response to with those who consciously believe.

Lesson #1:

Baptism doesnít save you.

There are some churches that teach that you must be baptized to be saved.

Some go to the point of saying that you must be baptized by THEM to be saved.

Some go even further that you canít even be baptized by THEM until they think youíre worthy of being baptized.

Baptism is only an outward sign of what God has already done on the inside of you.

Peter is writing how Noah and his family being saved through the flood of water is a picture of baptism and writes Ė

1 Pet 3:21 (NASB) And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

If baptism was so important, then why did Paul say to the Corinthians Ė

(1 Cor 1:14-17 KJV) I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; {15} Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. {16} And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. {17} For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

If you have to be baptized to be saved, then why didnít Paul practiced it a little more strongly?

Lesson #2:

The importance of baptism.

Just because baptism doesnít save you doesnít mean that itís not important.

After all, Jesus commanded us to be baptized Ė

(Mat 28:19-20 KJV) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: {20} Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Just as repentance is one of the things we ought to do when we start believing, we also ought to be baptized as well.

Baptism is a way of publicly declaring what Jesus has done for you personally.

Baptism is a way of giving a "testimony" that you have come to follow Jesus.

Note: Weíre going to be having a baptism in two weeks, after the second service (July 13).

If youíve never been baptized, bring your swimsuit and a t-shirt (or shorts and a t-shirt), and weíll baptize you in the pool out back!

:38 and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

This isnít just talking about the Holy Spirit coming to dwell inside them, as He does with all believers, but Peter is talking about the phenomena of the filling of the Holy Spirit, the same thing the people have just seen before their eyes.

If you will recall from an earlier Bible Study (May 4, Acts 1:1-6a), we talked about how the "filling" of the Holy Spirit has several names, all referring to the same thing.

Jesus called it the "promise of the Father" (Acts 1:4)

Later when the Holy Spirit is poured out on the Gentiles at Corneliusí house, Peter refers to the filling of the Holy Spirit as the "gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 10:45; 11:17).

Is Peter saying that to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, you must repent and be baptized?

No - I think heís saying that itís going to happen to these folks, but I donít think this is a hard fast rule here.

Why?

At Corneliusí house (Acts 10), the Holy Spirit is poured out and they speak with tongues before they are baptized.

In fact, this is why Peter decides to baptize them Ė

(Acts 10:47 KJV) Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

:39 For the promise is unto you

This phenomena of the Holy Spirit filling the disciples wasnít just for the disciples.

The Holy Spirit is for all who believe in Jesus.

:39 and to your children

This isnít just a one time deal, and only those present on the day of Pentecost or only for the apostles.

But even the children of these people will benefit from it as well.

:39 and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

There were many people there from many nations around the world.

The fact that they were all hearing the disciple praise the wonderful works of God in their own languages was a kind of proof that God was concerned about people all around the world.

Even though Peter would probably just have Jews all around the world in mind, the fact is that it goes even for us Gentiles as well (as Peter will learn in Acts 10).

:40 Save yourselves from this untoward generation

untoward - skolios - crooked, curved; perverse, wicked

save yourselves Ė I think this would be better translated "be saved from" (as the NAS translates it).

Either way, itís not that we save ourselves other than when we trust in Jesus and repent, the net result is that our trusting in Jesus pulls us away from the influence of the world around us.