With this issue we initiate a series of lessons on New Testament examples of conversion. Here we will consider the very first converts (on the Day of Pentecost). In future issues we will cover the following cases of conversion: the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26f), Paul, formerly called Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1f), Cornelius and his household (Acts 10, 11), Lydia (Acts 16:14f), and the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:25f). These are the most detailed cases of conversion.
All of the examples of conversions are in the book of Acts, which is the only Biblical history that we have of the church once it was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The book of Acts is both simple and sophisticated. Each example of conversion serves to validate the basic commands applicable to those outside of the body of Christ (see WOL six previous articles). It is quite simple to see how those alienated from Christ became part of his body, the church.
At the same time, each example illustrates something new and different. From the conversions of those who were guilty of crucifying Christ, to those of other races and nationalities, to those who were enemies of Christ, to a righteous woman, and a man in the act of suicide, all are quite profound in illustrating new and different truths.
Written by Luke, the book of Acts picks up where His gospel leaves off. It begins by a promise to the apostles that they would soon receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-5). Let us enter into this study of God's Word prayerfully and with all diligence.
What Shall We Do?
If someone were to ask you this question, what would your answer be? Let us trace the early part of the book of Acts that leads up to this question and then see what the answer is. Please get your Bible and notice the following from the first chapters of the book of Acts:
1:6-11. At the end of the 40-day period when the risen Lord Jesus was upon the earth, His disciples asked him if he would restore the kingdom. He told them to wait for the Holy Spirit, and they saw Him ascend into heaven.
1:12-26. As commanded, they returned to Jerusalem and there replaced Judas with Matthias.
2:1-14. Pentecost means 50; it signifies a major Jewish holiday 50 days after the Passover. This Pentecost was fifty days after the resurrection of Christ. The miracles that occurred were totally astounding and clearly supernatural, indicating the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, as Jesus had promised.
2:14-21. Peter used an Old Testament reference from Joel to convince them that what they were observing was of God.
2:22-36. Peter used the writings of David to convince them that the resurrection had set Jesus upon the throne that was promised to David, thus establishing (restoring) the kingdom. He then convinced them that they had crucified the Christ.
2:37-38: "Now when they heard (this,) they were pricked in their heart and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter (said) unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins ..." In compliance with the commands of Jesus, they heard, believed, repented of their sins, were willing to confess their belief, and were baptized for the remission of their sins.
2:41-42. "They then that received His Word were baptized: and there were added (unto them) in that day about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers." Baptism adds one to the called out body of Christ, His church (Rom. 6:3; Eph. 1:22-23).
Ye often hear it said ...
"All you have to do is accept Jesus ...".
but Peter said, when asked: "What shall we do?"(Acts 2:37):
"Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins ...."
Then, to confirm this, Luke stated (Acts 2:41): "They then that received His Word were baptized: and there were added (unto them) in that day about three thousand souls." It is true that we must "receive His Word," and this might be equivalent to what some today call "accepting Jesus." Peter also stated that: "whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." These are acceptable terms, and most would consider them synonymous. The question is: What is the Biblical meaning of calling on the Lord, accepting Jesus and receiving His Word?
Peter answers this question: "They then that received his word were baptized." If someone refused baptism or decided to defer this action, could it be said that he "received His Word?" His word called for them to be baptized. Any who were not baptized did not receive His Word. As we continue our study of the conversions, we will see that baptism is the act that put the penitent believer into Christ (Acts 2:41,47; Romans 6:3). May God bless you in your study.
You Find the Answers
These Bible study questions provide assistance to you in studying and teaching God's Word. The answers are quite clear, and they prove that we can have the same understanding as the apostles had by reading what they wrote (Ephesians 3:4). We challenge you to open your Bible and establish the truth.
"... AND YE SHALL RECEIVE ..." (Acts 2)
1. What two miracles accompanied the Holy Spirit outpouring? (1-3)
2. Were the "other tongues" real languages and understandable? (6)
3. Who were speaking? ("Peter ... with the eleven" 14)
4. Did Peter base his teaching on Old Testament scripture? (17)
5. Did Peter accuse them of crucifying Christ? (23)
6. Why could not the words of David have referred to himself? (29)
7. Had God sworn to set one upon the throne of David? (30)
8. What was he actually foreseeing in this prophecy? (31)
9. Is Jesus on the throne of God? (33) Is Jesus both Lord and Christ; thus a king? (36)
10. Can there be a king without the restoration of the kingdom?
11. What did Peter command to those who believed? (36-38)
12. If they were not baptized, did they receive the word? (41)