Salvation is clearly a gift of God. There is nothing we can do to earn it. But there are some things we must do to receive that gift. Believing in Jesus is something we must do. Repenting is something we must do. And baptism is something that we must do. None of these earn salvation, but all are necessary in order to inherit salvation.
Acts 2 is one of the most fascinating chapters in the Bible. It records the events of the day of Pentecost just a few weeks after the crucifixion of Jesus. As John the Baptist and Jesus had both promised (Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:5), the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and were given the miraculous ability to speak in languages they had not previously known.
Peter then proceeds to preach one of the great sermons of all time to the thousands who had gathered there in Jerusalem. Peter concludes his sermon with these words, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified (Acts 2:36).”
Peter’s sermon accomplished its purpose as we see the people “pierced to the heart” and asking Peter and the other apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” They believed what Peter had said in his sermon; they were convinced and convicted of their sin of rejecting and killing Jesus. Peter’s response to them was, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).”
At what point were they saved? On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached to them about Jesus and His crucifixion. In Acts 2:37, it says, “When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?” They had listened to Peter and had come to believe that they had, in fact, crucified the Son of God. It was at this point that they believed. But was that belief enough to save them?
Apparently not, or else Peter would have answered their question by saying something like: “There is nothing you need to do now; you’re already saved because of your belief. Go and try to live for Christ now.” But that is not what Peter said. In verse 38, Peter first told them they needed to repent. To repent means to turn around and change directions. For the people listening to Peter, it meant to turn away from their sin and their fight against Jesus; they needed to turn to Him and accept Him and His way of life. (Repentance is also taught in several other places in the book of Acts as a necessary part of God’s plan of salvation: Acts 3:19; 5:31; 17:30.) Would then their faith coupled with repentance be all that was needed for salvation?
No, because Peter also told them to be baptized for the remission of their sins. In fact, it is clear that they were still not saved before baptism because in verse 40 Peter kept preaching, saying “Be saved from this perverse generation.”
But then we come to verse 41: “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” Verse 47 goes on to say, “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.” At what point were they saved? It could not be said much clearer than what it says in verse 41. They were baptized and were then added to the Lord’s church. The Bible teaches that it was at the point of baptism that they came into a saved relationship with the Lord.
by Bob Williams
Copyright © 1998-2010. Bible Lessons Worldwide Ministry. Bob Williams. Mobile, Alabama.
A Letter to America
1 Peter 2:24 (By Brittney Borowski)