Focus Text: Acts 2

The prophecy of Joel 2.32 specified that anyone who would call upon the name of the Lord would be saved – no exceptions. Of course, calling on the name of the Lord obviously did not mean merely uttering the Lord’s name; rather calling on the name of the LORD is illustrated in Acts 2 by the instructions which inspired men gave to those who believed Joel's realized gospel message.

Peter was one of these inspired men; according to Luke, he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2.4) and therefore, his word ought to be the final word when it comes to understanding what it means to “call on the name of the Lord.” As Peter reached a conclusion to a part of his Pentecost sermon he said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2.36). These words cut to the heart of many who heard the message; the convicted crowd responded: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2.37). Peter’s response is crucial because it tells how God calls sinners and also how He expects sinners to call on Him!

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2.38-39). Through these words, Peter explained his previous quotation from Joel as to what it means to “call on the name of the Lord.” There are two things specifically mentioned here that Peter charges his believing and convicted hearers to do, namely they were to “Repent,” and to “Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” As a result of their actions, some things would happen to them; in responding to the gospel invitation in this manner, they would “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Note the words of Peter carefully; they reflect God’s will for penitent sinners who wish to avail themselves of the salvation that is found only in Christ Jesus. His hearers were commanded to repent (this action is in the “active voice” and the “imperative mood”). This simply means that this was something that each one had to do for themselves. Furthermore, Peter commanded them to “be baptized.” This command is similar in that it is in the “imperative mood” (something that is demanded), but it is different in that it is in the “passive voice”; it was something that the hearers had to allow to be done to them by someone else. Literally, Peter said, “Repent [yourselves] and allow someone to baptize you.” Remember, these words were said in response to the question believing sinners asked, “What shall we do?”

If we haven’t seen it before, we see an important principle now. The truth is this: How God treats sinners depends on how sinners treat God! He wants them to “call on His name” so He can deliver on His promises of salvation. However, as the inspired apostle Peter demonstrated, there are things that believing sinners must do before God can or will save them. He loves unconditionally, but He does not pardon unconditionally! Sinners must react as God demands in order for their sins to be forgiven. That’s how God treats sinners!

Questions:

1. According to Joel’s prophecy, who could be saved?

2. According to Peter words, what did believing sinners have to do to be saved?

3. What is the significance of the “active voice”? The “passive voice”?

4. Does God love sinners who refuse to repent and be baptized? According to what we learned from Acts 2, has He promised to forgive sinners who refuse to repent and be baptized?