One of the Tragedies for Both the Believer and the Unbeliever Is a Failure to See Life from an Eternal Perspective
“Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart and said… Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you… Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized…” (KJV, Acts 2:37-41).
One of the most important questions someone could ever ask is, “What must I do to be saved?” Unfortunately, this question would not even make it on a top-ten list of most-frequently-asked questions. Questions that someone might find on a top-ten list (if such a list existed) might include questions such as, “What must I do to get this new job?”, or, “What must I do to make more money?”, or, “What must I do to get the dream house that I have always wanted?”
While this list of frequently-asked questions may be a little silly, it may not be far from the truth, at least at its core. One of the tragedies of both the believer and the unbeliever is a failure to see life from an eternal perspective.
When someone fails to see that this life is fleeting and that when he dies he will enter into eternity, matters pertaining to the world saturate his mind. In the book of Acts, we get a glimpse into an eternal matter brought into the present.
“Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart”
For these individuals to have been “pricked in their heart” means that the Holy Spirit was working and was in their midst. It is the Holy Spirit Who does the “pricking.” Often, this is referenced as conviction. Many people do not like to talk about sin, but the disciples were not strangers to confronting people in their tracks.
If someone reads Acts 2:1-36, which is the portion of Scripture that came before our passage today, he will see that Peter was not shy in declaring that the people had crucified their Lord. The Holy Spirit works among people when the Gospel is faithfully proclaimed. The Gospel message is a message that brings about conviction.
God is the Creator of humanity. He is the Judge and Ruler of all. This God created man in the garden, and He created man good. God did not create things bad, but rather, man chose to rebel against his Creator, and sin entered the world.
The Bible makes it clear that everyone who has ever lived has sinned against God. The Bible also makes it clear that sin is deserving of eternal punishment. God is a just Judge Who sees all things and knows all things. Therefore, nothing goes unnoticed by God. God knows every sin that every person has ever committed.
How would you feel if there was a judge who did not punish the guilty, but simply let them go free? It would be absurd to say that this judge was upholding justice. Yet for some reason, people think that God should let their sin go unpunished no matter what they do.
Sin has separated man from God. There is a divide that is present between the sinner and God that cannot be mended apart from divine intervention. Many people think that by good works, they can overcome their bad deeds and be allowed into heaven. This is a ridiculous position to take; it does not make sense at all. Once again, how would you feel if a person committed a vast number of crimes, then he told a judge a bunch of good deeds that he had done, and the judge responded by letting him go free? Anyone in his right mind would think that justice had not been served.
Man is guilty before God for breaking God’s law. However, God has made a way through the Lord Jesus Christ. Sin is always punished. Sin is never left un-dealt with. The unbeliever will be paying the price for his sin for all eternity. But the believer can find his rest in a Savior Who paid the price for him.
Sin brought about the penalty of death and the wrath of God. In Christ, God has intervened to pay the price for sinners. Jesus Christ, Who knew no sin, became sin and died on the cross in the place of sinful man. He took upon Himself the wrath of God and the penalty that sin had brought about. In Christ’s death, justice was served. Sin was dealt with, and the wrath of God was satisfied. Jesus Christ died, and shortly after, He rose from the dead.
This is the message that “pricks” the hearts of the lost and brings them into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is also the message that continues to prick the hearts of believers and causes lives to continually be changed.
“and said… Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”
But what must someone do upon hearing the Gospel message? In this moment, Peter told the people that they must repent and be baptized for the remission of sin. It is important to recognize, based upon the Bible as a whole, that repentance precedes baptism. True repentance also brings about salvation.
What Peter said may very well be better translated as, “…Be baptized since you have received the remission of your sins.” Baptism does not bring about the forgiveness of sin. If baptism did this, then salvation would be based upon a meritorious work and, as a result, would not be by grace.
Therefore, the people were to repent unto salvation, and the faith which they needed was assumed rather than directly stated.
“and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
When someone believes in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, he receives the promised Holy Spirit. This is the greatest miracle in all of Scripture. The miracle is that a sinner who is dead in his sins and trespasses can be brought to newness of life through the work of the Spirit of God.
Prior to salvation, an unbeliever cannot do a single thing that is pleasing in God’s sight. Does this seem harsh? It may seem that way if someone does not know his Bible. But the reality of the situation is worse than any man could ever know. Sin has brought about a deadness within man that is hard to overstate. This deadness is a spiritual deadness, which also makes it impossible for an unbeliever to do anything truly spiritual.
The unbeliever will not perform a single act to the glory of God. Nor will the unbeliever perform a single act with a true faith toward God. Therefore, nothing the unbeliever does is pleasing in God’s sight. Maybe it is best to let Scripture speak on this matter: “But without faith it is impossible to please him…” (Heb. 11:6).
The Holy Spirit brings a person into a pleasing relationship with the Lord, a relationship of faith and a life lived to the glory of God.
“For the promise is unto you… Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized…”
Peter made it clear to these people that the promise was for them. People in this modern era need to hear the same words. The promise is for you. Today is the day of salvation. The believer needs to hear these words. The promise is for you. Christ is for you.
In the midst of all the craziness of life, in the midst of all the sin struggles and failures, in the midst of the discouragement and frustration, the promise is for you.
Look to Jesus this day; save yourself from this perverse generation. Gladly receive the words of Scripture, and enter into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Father, I thank You for Your Gospel message. Thank You for pouring out Your Spirit on me and helping me to walk with Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.