By Nelson Thomas, Mumbai
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“Be Saved” Acts 2:40c

St. Peter’s Passionate Call

Summery: - What was the thrust of the first Christian sermon? If we fail to take hold of this message we will be the most miserable people on the earth. For with out a personal salvation experience one can not be part of the Church nor escape the eternal condemnation, to where every individual is heading naturally.

Introduction

Many Christians who love and respect Apostle Peter fail to grasp the full meaning of this solemn appeal. He was delivering the first Christian sermon.

        On the day of Pentecost, the 50th day festival of the Jews, according the promise made the risen Lord Jesus Christ, Church was formed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Cf. Acts 1:5; 2:1—47; 1Corinthains 12:13. It was during this occasion Peter preached a very touching message to the Jews who came for the feast. Forcefully and clearly Peter asserted, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36.

        The result was remarkable. Many who heard were so touched by his challenging message. We read in v.37, “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

        Definitely it was a sincere confession made as a result of being convicted of their sins. Apostle Peter gave them further instruction and v. 40 is the conclusion of it, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”

Saved & added

That means the sum and substance of his talk was to urge them to be saved. We need to consider the true meaning of this call. Remember in response to his appeal, they got saved, baptized and added to the newly formed Church. Cf. Acts 2: 41, 42, 47. It was their response to the call of getting saved that made them members of the Church.

That’s why it is imperative to consider what it means to be saved. Make no mistake dear reader, Dr. Luke writes it very clearly, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47c. Without having an experience of personal salvation no one can be a part of the Church of Jesus Christ. So let us consider Peter’s invitation in detail.

Three things

As we closely notice this plea to be saved, three ideas emerge:-
                1. The importance.
                2. The impossibility.
                3. The opportunity.

1. The importance to be saved. (top)

Even a casual reading of St. Peter’s appeal gives us the impression that it is so essential, unavoidable and an urgent need. We must be saved. Not only Peter, Apostle Paul and even God Himself deeply desire the salvation of man.

        Romans 10:1:- “Brethren my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”
1Timothy 2:3, 4:- “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

        Why is it so important? What is the need to be saved and what does it mean?

        The words ‘be saved’ refers to a dangerous situation. For example, if we escape a fatal accident we would say, ‘thank God I got saved’. That speaks of a deliverance / escape / salvation from a very dangerous accident. Similarly, if doctor suggest the possibility of a serious disease however a thorough investigation came negative and we would be very happy and would say ‘Thank God I got saved”. That’s a deliverance from a very serious sickness.

Man in Danger

Peter warns the listeners of a dangerous situation unless they got saved. What is that peril they are going to face if they don’t respond to his call? It is not just a sickness or an accident but something more serious. Bible speaks of the dangerous state of man in four aspects.

i. Away from God due to sin. Cf. Romans 3:23

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Cf. 1peter 2:25; Isaiah 53:6.

Because of sin committed by the first man Adam, every human being born in to this world is away from God. He is not able to come close to his creator. It’s not just separation from God; actually he is a rebellious enemy of God. And the result is, not only he fails to enjoy the blessings of God, he has neither peace nor hope. He is wandering with out God.

ii. Unable to understand the things of God. Cf. Romans 1:21, 22

“Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise they became fools.”
        No doubt there is no limit to man’s intelligence. The discoveries made by him are so magnificent. Yet the Bible says he is not capable to comprehend the things of God. As far as the divine things are concerned his understanding is darkened. Sin destroyed that capacity to know God. Cf. 1Corinthinas 2:14:- “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them...”

iii. Dead sins and trespasses. Ephesians 2:1.

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sin.” Cf. Colossians 2:13.
        How can we say that man is dead while he is still alive! Paul speaks about the spiritual state of man. Death, we know is separation. So man is separated from God, and lives in sin. He is dead to God but alive to sin and Satan. That’s why he is able to walk according to the course of this world. Cf. Ephesians 2:2.

This is more dangerous than being lost and ignorant. There may be some ray of hope for a lost sheep, and a darkened mind, but for a dead man, what hope remains! He has no life of God. The only solution is to give him life to relate with God.

iv. Awaiting an eternal death. Cf. Hebrews 9:27.

“As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”

        The most critical state of man is the future judgment that he has to face after his death. Life does not come to an end by death. Though our body dies, we never die! We only pass away, from one realm to another. Death is only a break from one phase of life to another.

        What will happen after death? Bible makes it very clear; every one both small and great will have to stand before the white throne of God. The books will be opened and each one will be judged according to their works. Cf. Revelation 20:11—15. Better to read what the Bible says:-
        “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

        “And any one not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 2015. cf. Galatians 5:19.

Today often we do not realize the seriousness of it. Though we are aware that death can strike at any time, we are not worried; likewise, though we have a vague feeling about our encounter with God after death, we are not troubled. Yet it is a true fact beloved.

        Whether we feel it or not reality remains as true. We will have to face the wrath of God and spend our eternity with out God, in the place that was prepared for devil and his agents. Cf. Matthew.25:41, 42; 8:12; Mark 9:44—49. 22:13; 25:30

It is from this eternal hell-fire we need to be saved.

So, consider the pathetic condition of you and me.
        • Away from God
        • Unable to understand the things of God.
        • Dead sins and trespasses
        • Awaiting an eternal death

The above mentioned fourfold perilous state of man forces us to seek deliverance and salvation some how. We must be saved from this condition.

2. The impossibility        (top)

Peter preaches to those who attended the Pentecost feast of the Jews. Their religious rituals or offerings could not save them. That’s why Peter calls upon them to be saved.

From the very beginning man did try his best to return to God. His conscience testified, and even the whole creation witnessed to him of his creator God and the need to be in touch with Him. Those urge forced man to seek ways by which he could approach God.

Religious rituals

Every religion is the result of such search for God. But the truth is, as mentioned above man can never come to God nor he relate with God on his own efforts. The reason is that, he doesn’t have that capacity / facility to connect with God. So neither our self-effort nor the effort of another person can help man to reach God.

Helpless brethren

Cf. Psalm 49:7,8:- “None of them can be any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him-for the redemption of their souls is costly, and it shall cease forever..”

        A blind man who searches for the way needs some one who can see and show the way. Similarly one who drowns needs some one who knows swimming to give a helping hand. That means a saviour / deliverer should not have the limitations of victims.

        Yes, dear friend, we need a savior to be saved from the eternal condemnation. Rituals, prayers, offerings, and fasting etc will not help. The self-styled religious leaders who promise to solve every problem of others fail to even crack their own troubles.

Inadequate piety

Dr. Luke writes about a very respectable Roman official who used to fear God, prayed always and even gave alms generously. Yet he needed to be saved. God in His mercy sent His angel and told him to bring Apostle Peter who will share a message that can save him and his family. cf. Acts 10:1—6; 11:14.

So, every one must be saved, including pious and religious people because it is impossible for our personal efforts or attempt by another individual to save us from sin, Satan and the eternal judgment. Cf. Hebrews 10:1—4.

3. The Opportunity. (top)

The reason why Apostle Peter makes such a fervent appeal is the possibility of salvation now. That’s why Paul desired the salvation of his fellow-men. Romans 10:1. Paul further urges the believers to intercede for others that they saved. 1Timothy 2:3, 4.

When human effort failed to bring salvation (moksha / mukthi) to mankind God in His grace and mercy opened the way of salvation. That is the thrust of the New Testament.

Through Christ

As the whole world was waiting for a saviour, in the right time, God took the form of a man to save us from sin. Before His very birth, the angel told Joseph to call Him JESUS for He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21.

        Dr. Luke writes about an elderly man of God who was waiting for the Messiah. When the parents brought the Child Jesus to the temple, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation...” Luke 2:25—31.

        Yes, he was the expectation of every God-fearing individual everywhere. The birth of Christ heralded the arrival of a new era in which man can be saved from sin and its consequences.

        During His public ministry, the Lord Jesus repeatedly stated the purpose of His coming. He was very much conscious of His mission. Notice two verses.

         “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16          “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10.

Apostle Paul asserts, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinner.” 1 Timothy 1:15

By His death

The birth and life of Christ is not enough for our salvation. It is the cross of Christ that saves us from the eternal condemnation. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18

        Unbelievers -those who perish- do not find any value in the death of Christ, but the truth is it is the death, burial and resurrection that made salvation available for mankind. He became an atoning sacrifice for us. He, who knew no sin, became sin for us. He took our penalty, suffered a cruel death which would have fallen upon us.

        Not only Christ suffered at the hand of people and the Roman soldiers, God the Father dealt with Him in those three dark hours. Cf. Matthew 27:45ff. We don’t know what exactly happened in that darkness, but we hear a cry by the ninth hour, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me.”
        This cry gives us some idea of what happened in those three dark hours. God was dealing with His Son for the sins of you and me. It was too much. Nevertheless He did carry our sins, its curse and the entire penalty fully and declared “it is finished”. Cf. John 19: 30.

        Yes, dear friend the Lord Jesus Christ bore our sins, died in our place as our substitute. He has perfectly satisfied the just demands of God. That’s why God is free to forgive, cleanse and save any one who trusts the Lord Jesus Christ as His saviour and Lord. Cf. Colossians. 1:20, 21; Galatians 3:13; Romans 3:25; 1John 2:2.

With His resurrection

Not only He died, He was buried and rose again triumphantly on the third day. It is His resurrection that guarantees our salvation. Romans 4:25; 5:10. That’s why writer of the book of Hebrews says, “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25.

Our Lord is alive; He is the only saviour who is able to save any one from any condition, perfectly and judicially. Christ lives, wonderfully dwelling and working in the heart and life of every one who puts their trust in Him.

“Nor is there salvation in any, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.

Good news

This is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. You can be saved now from sin and it’s consequences through the finished work of Christ the Son of God. Is there any other good news than this? Salvation (mukthi / moksha) possible, freely, by God’s grace. (Ephesians 2:8) No work (karma) is required, no money is demanded. No pilgrimage is insisted. What a wonderful salvation we have in the Lord Jesus Christ.

How is salvation so free? Free doesn’t mean it’s cheap and costs nothing. Christ paid the price fully and finally. We can never pay for our salvation; therefore God provides it free of cost to us, though costly and precious. 1Peter 1:18. It’s so great salvation, how shall we escape if we neglect it. Hebrews 2: 3.

How to be saved?

The saddest reality is that many who understand the above mentioned truths- the necessity, impossibility and the way of salvation- are not clear about the way to experience salvation personally.

Mere knowledge of this good news is not enough. Even memorizing these truths or preaching of it is of no value, if not saved as the word of God states. Apostle Paul gives a very simple step. Cf. Acts 16”30, 31.

Believe, confess & receive

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9.

Apostle Johns refers to two other aspects of salvation in his writings; “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12

Notice the above three scripture portions. Here we have three simple yet essential steps to get saved. Believe, confess & receive.

Forgiveness, cleansing and new birth are different facets of our salvation. Our Lord not only delivers us from the miry clay, He cleanses us and gives us a new life, the very life of God. “Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13.

So, what exactly shall we do to be saved?

Believe what the Bible says about Christ, His person and work. Accept what God says about us and our sins and confess it to Him. Then by faith receive the risen Lord Jesus Christ in to our heart as our Lord and saviour. Then the word of God promises that we shall be saved. He will forgive us, renew us, and begin to dwell in our hearts. Dear friend why do you wait?

“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2Corinthians 6:2b.

NTK


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