The people who heard Peter’s Sermon are convicted. Peter’s instruction to them is more applicable to new believers today than even his sermon. In Part 3, this article in the Pentecost series will focus on the part of Pentecost called the Ingathering.
37Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:37-47 NASB
The very first instruction Peter gives is repentance. Though Peter laid out the charge that they crucified Jesus, sin is self-evident. The struggle is often convincing people they need a savior from their sin. But the power of the literal resurrection convinced this audience that they needed a savior, paired with the realization that they were wrong. With that hurdle crossed, the immediate question is what then must we do? Repentance. Now repentance is not just ceasing sin. That’s a stop. Repentance is more characterized as a U-turn and moving in the opposite direction. That direction is towards sanctification, being made holy through the Holy Spirit growing inside of you.
Insufficiency of Belief
The crowd heard Peter and believed, but belief (intellectually) alone isn’t enough. Intellectually believing the sacrifice that Jesus made is something even Satan can do. The crowd wanted to know what to do with this conviction. Belief was not enough for them. They wanted to know. They wanted reassurance that they would not be on the wrong side of scripture again. Peter instructs the new believers to repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit.
Repentance is necessary
The idea of repentance and, by extension, sanctification are too often rejected by our churches, but Peter makes this first in his instructions to new believers. Too often our churches do not follow the example of the early Christians who placed great emphasis on repentance. In fact, often churches do not emphasize sin, hell, or the justice of God. That is the state of Christianity in America today. It doesn’t grow attendance numbers. But it also isn’t creating revival. Peter’s Sermon was a large crowd, but his message delivered revival, because his message was powered by the Holy Spirit. Growing the church, not attendance, requires this power.
Evidence of God
An atheistic reading would discount the speaking in tongues, perhaps overlooking the loud noise that brought the people to hear the speaking of tongues in the first place, but an atheist would have to accept that a large Jewish crowd heard the Christian message and believed, or else Christianity would not exist today. So at some point in time this story, or something very close, had to have happened. And if an atheist concedes that this took place in Jerusalem, the same location as the crucifixion, Jews who lived concurrently with Jesus believed in the literal resurrection. It doesn’t matter how crazy the twelve apostles were, if the audience had no knowledge of Jesus and the resurrection, Christianity falls apart at Pentecost, at best, adding to the number of obscure Jewish sects. But if the resurrection did take place, then it makes that much sense for a well-informed Jewish audience to accept the gospel change their lives and their day of worship. The event of Pentecost supports the existence of God.