Embrace Christ for forgiveness /Acts 2:39-41
In verse 39, Peter exhorts his hearers to embrace Christ for the forgiveness of sins. He says: “The promise is for you and for your children and for everyone the Lord our God calls to himself.” Jesus, before he ascended into heaven, had instructed the apostles to proclaim the gospel first in Jerusalem, to the Jews. Peter is speaking for the apostles to a multitude of Jews.
We see here a remarkable example of God’s gracious dealings with sinful men. He sends Peter and the apostles to the very people who had cried out for Jesus death. Pilate delivered Jesus over to be crucified “according to their will.” Peter, in his sermon, declared them culpable for the death of Jesus, and that Jesus, the promised Messiah, had been raised from the dead, and now sits at the right hand of God, with authority over all things. They are “cut to the heart” by these facts.
They could remember Pilate washed his hands and proclaimed to the Jews, “I am innocent of this man’s blood, see to it yourselves. “ And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children.” Now Peter assures them that the promise is for them and their children. The Lord is inviting the very people who pronounced a curse on themselves; such was their enmity toward him.
Peter is encouraging them to be reconciled to God, through Christ. Thomas, when he saw the resurrected Jesus proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” Now we see Peter assuring these people that if they come to Christ, they may proclaim the same and be warmly welcomed and forgiven. They serve as an example of how great the grace of God is.
It is a wonderful thing if you can say of God, “my God.” If a man can say my God, and it is true, he need not say anything else because it is more than if he could say, the entire world is mine. This is the greatest comfort to a Christian whatever circumstance he might be in. In Christ, there is no longer any condemnation, and you can justifiably say, God is my God.
The promise Peter assures them of is both the bestowing of something good (forgiveness of sins); and the removing of something evil (the guilt and corruption of sin). There is great need of coming to Christ. Luke tells us that Peter, “with many other words bore witness and continued to exhort them saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation (verse 40).”
By using the word “crooked,” Peter issues a serious warning. Crooked or corrupt means an absence of righteousness before God. In not sparing his own Son, God shows us his justice in a way that nothing else could. Christ alone could meet the just standards of God. He is sufficient for the worst sinners, but none can stand upright before God outside of him.
We know the line in the hymn Amazing Grace: “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved; how precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.” We see this conviction unfolding among the Jews who listened to Peter’s sermon and believed.
God would not set forth as terrible threats as he does against sin and sinners if it didn’t convince some or if it wasn’t true. Peter’s sermon doesn’t convince all in the crowd, but it does bring some to Christ. The Holy Spirit convinces them of sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8).
The Spirit also is the Comforter, so that the recipients of grace magnify the mercy of God. When God shows us our sin, and how much we owe, and how unable we are to pay; when mercy comes to us, then mercy appears in its true light, as a wonderful mercy. We then see what a great thing Christ has done, and how deep his love is.
Luke tells us that 3000 souls received the word of Christ and were baptized (verse 41). What characterized them was that they believed. That is the one thing necessary; to believe God. Do you look to Christ? God has made him available to you. Later Peter will say, “Make your calling and election sure.”
Think of these 3000 souls. They were convinced of the defiling nature of their sin. Their affections and will were altered. They saw Christ as the one who could meet the burden and weight of the justice of God. And they were right. It is a wonderful truth the apostle Paul assures us of; ‘All who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”