7. Edification through the Ministry of the Apostles (Acts 2:37-41)
39 For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.” 40 With many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized. There were added that day about three thousand souls.
Peter told the disturbed, repentant multitude that they could come to Christ. What was needed was a true turning and a faith baptism, the conditions for receiving the Holy Spirit. He strengthened them in this knowledge, and clarified to them the greatness of God´s love by saying:
“The Holy Spirit is a gift and not a wage. No one is worthy for God to come to him to indwell his heart. This indwelling is a great privilege, which Christ purchased for us with His own blood. If Christ had not died on the cross no man would have deserved the Holy Spirit. But he did die, and wiped out the sins of all men. Everyone can, without difficulty, receive the Holy Spirit. He need but know his state before God, repent, confess, and, with all determination, leave his sins behind. The Holy Spirit is holy and cannot be in agreement with our impurities or lies. This truthful Spirit glorifies the Son and does not allow for pride in us. When you surrender to His purpose and believe in Christ, the Son of God, you receive His atonement. You are then justified and sanctified. The more you give yourself to Christ and open your heart to the love of His Spirit, the more you become filled with the power of God. Do not resist the voice of the Holy Spirit, for He desires to turn you into the likeness of God, the Father. He wants you to become merciful, as He is merciful. Your being transformed into the image of God is the aim of the Holy Spirit’s sanctification.
This portion of the Father´s promise is not only for the Jews, but also for all men who have heard God’s call, believed in the Savior, and repented of their evil past. It makes no distinction in their color, cleverness, or life experiences. The Holy Spirit does not distinguish between children and parents, men and women, rich and poor. Whoever repents and takes up Christ’s cross becomes one of God’s adopted. He comes to know Christ, the only Son of God, of whose fullness they partake. Today the Holy Spirit is calling you and millions of others to enter into Christ’s salvation. The motto of our generation is the call of the Holy Spirit to all men. His free offer to you is to enter into the family of God. Who is the one who hears? Who is the one who comes? Who is it that recognizes his sins? It is the one who believes in Christ and begins to live in the fullness of His power!
Peter and the other apostles spoke much to individuals, and personally clarified to them the mysteries of salvation. They refuted their doubts, showed them their wicked hearts, and confirmed to them the greatness of the love of God. In these statements, the Holy Spirit enlightened them to call all men perverse. No man is upright. All walk in devious ways and are depraved in their being. No one is good and right in this world. All are wedded to lying, injustice, cheating, trickery, hatred, murder, envy, and personal interests.
The Holy Spirit, however, frees us from our pessimism, calls us to Jesus Christ, and saves us from our selfishness. He does not reform the world, but changes believers in their innermost being. You are not in need of reformation of your character, but of primary salvation. You are marked for ruin by God’s anger, and are lost, just as other men are lost. The apostle Peter calls you to “be saved from this perverse generation.” He does not say to you “remain half-perverse, and half-saved”, or “believe in Christ, and continue in ease in your sins.” No! for the Holy Spirit came to the world on the Day of Pentecost. Christ saves by His power whoever believes in Him truly and completely. Salvation was completed on the cross. The Holy Spirit will realize this privilege in you every day if you open yourself to the radiance of Christ’s power, believing in His love.
On the birthday of the Christian church, the number of those who heard the call of the Holy Spirit amounted to three thousand. Few of the preachers in the history of men have experienced in their ministries such extraordinary results as Peter, the illiterate fisherman, through whom God Himself personally spoke.
The troubled and repentant immediately believed in Jesus, for the Holy Spirit had opened the eyes of their hearts and enlightened their minds. How wonderful it was that the apostles did not give them time for contemplation or reflection, that they might turn back. Neither did they deepen them in the fullness of God’s word, but instead, immediately baptized them, on the same day in which they had believed. This faith was neither a superficial, mental belief, nor a smart, spiritual idea. The Holy Spirit had poured out His pleasure on the believers and practiced His judgment in the unrepentant. In his sermon, Peter declared the principles of our faith with all clarity: Christ’s life, the cross, the resurrection, the Lord’s ascension into heaven and His being seated at the right hand of the Father. He emphasized, as well, the truth of the Holy Spirit in the believer. He who recognizes these truths and believes in them dies to himself in the baptism of Christ. He becomes worthy to immediately receive the Holy Spirit.
PRAYER: O Lord Jesus Christ, we worship You for the miracle of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, the perverse and depraved. We thank You that You forgave us all our sins and purified us. Fill us with Your truth and love, so that we may, with great humility, call all people to follow You. You have saved every individual and purchased for him the right to receive the Holy Spirit. Lead us to a living, abiding, and abundant faith.
- Who is worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit? Why?