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)
Life Changing Words
An elderly woman had just returned home from an evening church service when she realized there was an intruder in her home. Seeing that he was in the act of robbing her home of its valuables, the lady yelled “Stop! Acts 2:38!” Hearing her, the burglar stopped dead in his tracks and stood motionless. The woman calmly called the police and explained what was going on. As the officer cuffed the man to take him in, he asked the burglar, “Why did you just stand there? All the lady did was yell a Bible verse at you.” “Bible verse?” said the burglar, “She said she had an ax and two 38’s!”
Words have a way of changing lives as in the humorous story above. More important are words that will change lives for eternity. The Jews that gathered on a certain Pentecost had no idea how their lives were about to change. They were devout men and from all parts of the world. It seemed as normal as any other Pentecost in Jerusalem until they heard that unusual noise. Then something marvelous happened as they saw twelve men with tongues of fire on their head speaking in their native tongues. Attention was drawn to one man who delivered a moving eight minute sermon. It was the content of the sermon that struck deep in their hearts. A reality set in that an obscure event nearly two months ago was in fact the most important time in history. The Son of God had been killed by an angry mob of Jews. Realizing what had been done a cry went up from these devout men for answers. “What shall we do” echoed throughout the crowd.
Peter’s answer was direct and simple. The doctrine of salvation is direct and simple. There were more things Peter and the other apostles had to say but in the end three thousand people believed the words of the apostles and were baptized into Christ. They gladly received the word. There were no debates and arguments about what Peter said. They knew they needed to repent or to change their hearts to serve the Lord. It was the command of the Lord for everyone to be baptized and they gladly did that. Submission to the will of God was simple and direct. They heard the word and were baptized into water.
Today doctrine is very confusing. Sometimes it is even ignored. It almost has a bad taste. However doctrine is simply the will of God. The meaning of doctrine is that which is taught or the act of teaching. How can anyone expect to be saved without doctrine; being taught. Peter taught them what to do to be saved: repent and be baptized. Doctrine. Unchanged. Taught two thousand years ago. Still true today
Baptism is God’s wardrobe; in baptism we put on Christ; there we are invested, appareled in Christ. (John Donne, Sermon, Spring, 1618)