Rev. & Mrs. Kenneth Fellenbaum
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Saturday, June 15, 2013
The Early Church’s Message
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came and filled all the believers who were present in the Upper Room. The group then went to the temple courts where Peter stood up with the Eleven. He raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say” (Acts 2:14). He declared that what was happening was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy regarding the outpouring of the Spirit in the last days. Then he said, “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:22-24).
After he made several references to the patriarch David’s statements about Messiah, Peter concluded with this pointed application, “’Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.’ When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’ With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:36-41).
This passage is a very important one because it sets forth what the early church’s message was and what people needed to do to be saved and become part of the church. Let’s go back and look at the points that Peter made to them. First of all, there was the call to repent. People needed to repent of their sins and for their part in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. While they had been part of the conspiracy of the Jewish leadership to have him crucified, Scripture makes it clear that his death on the cross was all part of God’s plan of salvation. Our sins, the New Testament states, were part of the reason that Jesus died on the cross (see 1 John 4:10). Since everyone has sinned, everyone needs to repent.
Secondly, through his address he affirmed who Jesus was—the Christ or Messiah and what he did—die on the cross. He also emphasized the fact of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. These things were all part of what his followers believed and they shared their faith to others in witness. Christians believe this and much more about the person of Jesus Christ. We are saved by believing in our hearts and confessing with our mouths (see Romans 10:9-10).
Thirdly, Peter called upon them to be baptized. John the Baptist, the forerunner to Messiah, had begun his ministry by challenging the people of Israel to repent of their sins and be baptized (see Mark 1:4). To this message the Church would add faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Baptism is the outward sign of what has spiritually occurred in our hearts. We also identify with him and with all others who have accepted him as Saviour and Lord. This is the bottom line, so to speak, of what you need to do in order to be saved and join the church. Repent of sins, believe the Gospel, and be baptized. Have you done this?