“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘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’ ” (Acts 2:37,38).
WE GET THE BEST ANSWERS WHEN WE ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. On the Day of Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection, a large crowd in Jerusalem heard Peter and the other apostles preach the gospel of Christ publicly for the first time. Many were “cut to the heart,” and no one in the history of human inquiry has ever asked a better question than they did: What shall we do?
Repent and be baptized. The forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ requires that we repent of the sins we seek to be forgiven of. In godly sorrow, we determine that we will put these things out of our hearts and lives. Then we must be baptized, which means to be immersed in water. We do this “in the name of Jesus Christ,” as an act of faith (Colossians 2:12) required for our forgiveness.
For the forgiveness of your sins. Are we forgiven before or after we submit to baptism? Peter could not have been clearer when he instructed his hearers to repent and be baptized “for the forgiveness of your sins.” This is consistent with the words of Ananias to Saul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).
You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised the giving of God’s Spirit (John 7:37–39), and Peter says this is for those whose sins have been forgiven. But to what effect? Much might be said, but whatever may be the blessings of God’s Spirit in the life of the Christian (and there are many), these all serve the ultimate purpose of our salvation — our final restoration to God’s perfect glory.
The gospel which three thousand people obeyed in Acts 2 was the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the message that God has made possible the forgiveness of our sins in Christ — resulting in a right relationship with Him, growth in godly character, and an eternal hope we could never have regained for ourselves if Jesus had not atoned for our sins. This is the gladdest of all glad tidings — and it is possible only because of the greatest sacrifice ever made.
“We say that Jesus preached the gospel, but he did more. He came that there might be a gospel to preach” (Oswald Chambers).