Acts 2:38 Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
Peter didn’t say, Repent or be baptized, but Repent and be baptized. Some people repent but are never baptized, others are baptized but never repent. Nevertheless, entrance into the Christian life has always been marked by repentance and baptism.
Repentance is simply a change of mind that leads to a change in direction. If you are on the way to hell, and you want to go to heaven, you have to turn around. Baptism makes repentance public.
John the Baptist was a fearless preacher of repentance (Matthew 3:2). But as long as people remained on the shore, they were not committed. Only when they stepped out from the crowd, in front of family and friends, were they saying their life was going to change.
[Baptism is] not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21), wrote Peter. It isn’t a pledge that we will never sin again, but that we will keep our conscience clear. If we are not living with a clear conscience, we are not fulfilling our baptismal pledge. Everyone sins, of course, but believers confess their sins (1 John 1:9), and continue following Christ.
Acts 2:38b And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
When we commit ourselves to living for Christ, he commits himself to living in us. Before we come to Christ we do not have the Spirit; but when we come to Christ the Spirit lives within us. And The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:16), wrote Paul.
A friend of mine has several siblings, and they all resemble each other. Some take after their father, and some take after their mother, but they all bear a family resemblance. This is also true for the family of God. We do not need a medical test to prove whose children we are. The indwelling Spirit is proof that God is our Father, and Christ is our brother (Hebrews 2:11).
Acts 2:41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
The church of Jesus Christ did not begin gradually, but popped into existence after Peter’s sermon. If the disciples were making this up, they would have gone far away from people who knew the facts. They would have made a few converts, and the church would have grown gradually. But that is not what happened.
The disciples stood in the same city where Jesus was crucified and proclaimed his resurrection without any fear of contradiction. They knew for a fact that Jesus rose from the dead, and that it could not be disproved. Jesus’ enemies could have stopped Christianity at once by simply producing a body. They had enough manpower to turn every stone in Jerusalem, but there was not even a body search, because the rulers knew there was no body (Matthew 28:1-15). So Christianity exploded.
The religion of the Bible is unique because it is based on acts of God in history that could be verified. The main act of God in the Old Testament was the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:10-31). The Israelites were on one side when the waters parted, and they walked to the other side before the waters collapsed. Whoever was not present could ask those who were, and they would confirm it actually happened.
The main act of God in the New Testament is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. First he was dead, then he was alive. Whoever was not present could ask those who were, and they would confirm it actually happened. The disciples’ testimony was convincing because they were willing to die for what they saw, and even go to hell if they were lying. Good Jewish boys don’t tell lies about God and hope to go to heaven.
It is not difficult to sit in a chair and make up a new religion—many people have. Proclaiming an act of God in history is far more difficult, unless it actually happened. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is historical proof that Christianity is true. [God] has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:31), said Paul.
Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.
The church began as a community of believers who met together frequently. The biblical word church, actually means assembly, gathering or congregation. Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ belongs to his church, but we are uniquely the church whenever we come together. Strictly speaking, there are no solitary Christians.
This is also important for spiritual growth. California Redwoods grow as high as three hundred feet because the root systems interlock. If they try to grow alone, they are often blown over by a strong wind. Christians also grow better together than on their own. Therefore, do not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing (Hebrews 10:25), says Hebrews.
Acts 2:47 And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The early church experienced dramatic growth as people came to Christ every day. Many shared their faith, and many others believed. Two thousand years later, the church continues to grow, but not always consistently. Like a rising tide, a wave comes in and a wave goes out. But the waves keep coming in further, and eventually, the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9), wrote Isaiah.
Reflection and Review
Why is baptism important?
How does the birth of the church prove the resurrection of Christ?
How does meeting together help believers grow?