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What One Must Know to be Saved: Pentecost

July 18, 2008

The obvious place to learn what a person must know in order to be saved is the book of Acts. There we find a variety of conversion accounts, including the things that were taught to bring people to faith in Jesus. These accounts show us what the inspired apostles taught, and what the Holy Spirit considered important enough to record in the scriptures for our benefit.

Let’s begin with the first conversions, the 3000 in Acts 2.

God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven had come to Jerusalem to observe Pentecost (Acts 2:5) These Jews must have known the Old Testament scriptures, and in particular they would have been expecting the Messiah (Luke 2:26, Luke 3:15, John 1:41, John 4:25, John 7:26-31, John 7:41-42, John 12:34). They did not understand everything about the prophecies of the Messiah. But they understood much about the nature of God and the sinfulness of man. They understood the need for atonement.

Peter’s message addressed the following points:

  1. The miracles confirming his message and the message of Jesus (Acts 2:14-22)
  2. The prophecies about the Christ, which were now being fulfilled.
  3. The resurrection of Jesus, in fulfilment of scriptural prophecy. (Acts 2:22-32)
  4. The ascension of Jesus to the right hand of God, as Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:33-36)

Speaking to these Jews, Peter sought to prove three facts: that Jesus was the Christ, that he rose from the dead, and that he is Lord. Peter presented three pieces of evidence for these points. First, he presented the miracle they were witnessing, a fulfilment of prophecy from Joel. Second, he reminded them of the crucifixion of Jesus, and added the eyewitness testimony that Jesus was raised from the dead. Third, he showed them that the resurrection of the Christ was prophesied in the Old Testament scriptures.

By quoting those old testament scriptures, Peter was not saying that a proper understanding of prophecies from Joel, Psalms etc is essential to salvation. Rather, the purpose of all those proofs was to establish those three essential facts. He was using those prophecies to help persuade them that Jesus was the Christ, that he was raised from the dead, and that he is both Lord and Christ.

Act 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Many of those present accepted Peter’s message. At that point, Peter called for action on their part:

Act 2:37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Act 2:38 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.
Act 2:39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

They were called to repent and to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And they were promised a gift of the Holy Spirit. And they were told that this same promise is open to all whom the Lord our God will call. Finally, Peter used many other words to urge them to respond and to be saved.

So, in summary, we learn the following essential elements of Peter’s message in Acts 2:

  1. Jesus is the Christ
  2. Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, in fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy
  3. God has made Jesus Lord.
  4. In response, we are called to repent and to be baptized for forgiveness of our sins
  5. We are promised the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Everything in Peter’s message was designed to persuade them of those five points. Understanding and responding to those basic facts was sufficient for 3000 devout Jews to become Christians that day.

Next time we will look at the message Peter preached in chapter 3.

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