“For John baptized with water,but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” ~ Acts 1:5
Note: This is the fourth in a series of posts looking at the subject of baptism in the New Testament. To start at the beginning, click HERE.
In previous posts we examined some Scriptures about baptism from the words of Jesus. After his death, burial, and resurrection Jesus spent some forty days with the disciples. We do not know a lot about this time, but there are some things revealed in Acts chapter 1. Even though he had very little time to spend with them and was about to ascend to heaven, Jesus still took some time to talk about baptism. This reminds us that it is an important subject to Jesus, and to us.
One of the things he told them was that they would experience a baptism with the Holy Spirit “in a few days”. Following that they would spread the good news about Jesus throughout the known world. Of course, Jesus was not wrong in his statement as one can read beginning in Acts 2. Some have called Acts 2 ‘the hub of the Bible’ because there seem to be many prophecies pointed to this day, and afterward many references back to it.
Acts 2 is an account from the Day of Pentecost, a day that the Jews celebrated the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai. Jews from all over the known world gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate this ‘feast of weeks‘ as it was sometimes called. What a perfect moment for the first Gospel sermon!
Among the miraculous elements on that day was the sound of a rushing wind, what seemed to be fire on the head of the Apostles, and the ability to speak in languages they never had learned. Remember, people from all over the world were gathered … and they heard the Gospel message in their own tongue (language)! Appealing to many Old Testament prophecies Apostle Peter concluded his message with this stunning truth:
God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” ~Acts 2:36-37
What would you do if you discovered that someone you considered a criminal just a few weeks ago is revealed to be the long awaited Messiah? The Jews of that day were ‘cut to the heart‘ … this was not just a religious discussion to them. It was a matter of life and death.
Remember that our own sin is a matter of life and death as well. Sin separates us from God and it carries a penalty ( For the wages of sin is death… Romans 6:23). That question, “What shall we do?” is very important … and also the answer.
Peter replied, “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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” ~ Acts 2:38-39
At this crucial moment, on a stage before believers from all around the world, Peter plainly and clearly tells them the answer their important question.
Repent. This is simply a turning away from the sin in one’s own life.
Baptism. Immersion in water for the forgiveness of your sins. Though there have been eons of discussion about the purpose of baptism, I don’t know how this statement could be any clearer. When our faith moves us to be baptized, our sins are washed away.
Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to live in each person who is penitent and who is baptized.
Promise. This is not just a neat sermon on a special day. It is a promise to them. To their children. To everyone. To you and to me.
The message was so clear, so compelling, that it was received by thousands of people on that day.
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. ~Acts 2:41
An encouraging truth from this is that some of the people who may have called out for Jesus to be crucified have now accepted him as Lord and been forgiven of every sin. I don’t know what sins need to be forgiven in your life, but when we seek forgiveness the way that God teaches us in His Word, we can be assured that He has the power to wash them away.
The very next verses begin to tell how this new group of believers, the ‘early church’ lived and functioned.
In this series of posts I’m surveying the New Testament passages about baptism and observing the clear and simple teaching on this beautiful and effective act of faith. Thanks for reading, JD.