What is the most powerful message you’ve ever heard? How did it affect you and how did you respond? Peter had just declared the gospel to the awestruck crowd. He spoke of God’s purpose in the death of Jesus and the prophecies that He fulfilled. He talked of the Lord’s resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Then he proclaimed that “God made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:14-36). And the people believed him. “They were cut to the heart . . .” meaning they felt pain and deep sorrow because they had rejected – and even crucified – God’s Son, the Messiah they had long awaited.
But here’s the important part, [they] said . . . ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” (v. 37). The message convicted them and moved them to respond. Peter answered with the essential elements of conversion: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (v. 38). Repentance, baptism, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit.
There’s an important lesson for the church here. When the gospel is proclaimed simply and clearly, people will respond to it. Peter didn’t add theatrics – he just told them the truth. They were sinners and deserved God’s wrath, but in love, He sent His Son to bear the punishment for their sins. He died and rose to life for their forgiveness and eternal life. If they will believe this, repent of their sins, and submit to baptism they will be saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. Respond they did: “about three thousand were added to their number” (v. 41).
There is one more important point to Peter’s message. Luke said that He “warned and pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’” (v. 40). Charles Spurgeon said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” Beloved, you and I live among a corrupt generation and we need to warn and plead with the lost to repent and come to Jesus. We can’t afford to soft-pedal the gospel. We must tell them the truth. Their eternal destiny hangs in the balance.