We are living at a time when the gospel truth is compromised and not preached effectively. At a time when there are great claims on conversions. Many have gone to the point of reporting to us through the media the number of people who were saved. For example, it has been reported as a result of the great evangelistic work by Reinhardt Bonnke, half a million people were converted in Kenya. Is it possible for us to know the number of those that have been saved? Yes and no. Yes, we can tell from those who have professed faith and consequently been baptized. And No – we cannot be able to tell immediately after the gospel is proclaimed that ten or a hundred have been converted because it is not just a lip confession – it is something that takes place in the heart of a person.
The second thing that I think is important for us to consider is to inquire the place of miracles in conversion. Miracles do not and cannot produce conversion. At best they can produce wonder and awe – that’s all. Many of those who were among the crowd in Jerusalem on this Sunday that Peter preached, walked away to their homes in awe and amazed at Peter’s sermon and the miracle of tongues, yet unconverted. How many attend the healing crusades and are not saved. Many go just too quench their doubts and others to prove the preacher wrong and yet others just follow the crowd.
1. What are the preparatory means that precede conversion?
Fervent prayer for the unconverted by the church
This church of 120 members had been commanded by the Lord before His ascension to wait for the promise of the Spirit in prayer. We are in turn told that they all met together in prayer (1:12-15; 2:1). So prayer preceded this remarkable occurrence of salvation of so many. God is able to work without means like the way He did in creation from nothing to something. In other cases He chooses to use means – it may be clay like in the case of creation of Adam, or mud in the case of that blind man, but whatever means He decides to bless in order to accomplish His divine purposes is important that it is used. For the salvation of sinners God uses His Word and blesses it with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He also uses human mind and mouth in order to have the Word reach the sinners. In prayer we are told to ask and we are promised that we will receive; to seek and we will find and so many other promises come in the same manner (Promise must come through the appointed means).
Effusion of the Holy Spirit - Miraculous gifts accompanied the apostles
These miraculous gifts served at once to strengthen the faith of the disciples in order to qualify them for God’s work of declaring the gospel to the people. The gift of the Holy Spirit was the crowning evidence of the divine mission of the Saviour – it is the one promise that was promised as the proof of Christ's ascension and exaltation to the right hand of God. It was the evidence that the Christ’s work of atonement was accepted, and therefore it marked it as efficacious.
2. Have you had the full effects of the gospel?
What is the relevance of Peter’s sermon to an unbeliever?
The gospel message has its full effect and the full effects of the gospel are evidenced by the conversion of a sinner. Where this has not happened the gospel has not been effected. Once a conversion has happened then the person is completely transformed and made a new creature. The old is gone – the filthiness of sin, the debased mind and the calloused heart and all that an unbeliever has disappears. The operation that God effects in a person is complete, thorough and radical so that the converted person is made to know and enjoy all the benefits of being a child of God.
It is through the preaching of the gospel that sinners are confronted with the truth about their internal condition and the holiness of God, and His grace and mercy to a sinner who will go to Him in repentance and faith. That the unbeliever may meet with the saving God who saved in the first century and who has been saving sinners ever since, that he may turn to Him for his own conversion.
For those who are saved, firstly, may be reminded of how God operated in you to bring about the salvation that you now have. And secondly, that you may know the part you ought to play in the salvation of your children, parents brothers, and sisters.
Conversion starts with one’s realization of his wretchedness and inability. One must see the state he is in and seek some external help. One must feel the guilt of offending God and the danger or peril he has consequently put himself into.
· It must produce guilt in the sinner’s mind and conscience
We read that when these people heard this sermon, they were
· It must produce helplessness and total inability
· It must open one’s eyes to seek external help
· The external help must be sought from only One – Jesus Christ who has dealt wit
3. The gospel is the only solution for you
· One must repent of his sins
Repentance is turning away from one’s sins having discovered its vileness. One must see how greatly the sin is terrible, this comes after a carefully thinking and reflection leading to a change of mind in reference to moral good and evil and more especially to one’s character and conduct. It might be accompanied by regret and sorrow but it must produce a revolution of heart and life in that order.
· One must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who shed His blood for the sole purpose of remission of our sins. He has perfectly and completely paid the penalty for our sins.
· One must receive the Holy Spirit
· One must be baptized in the Name of His Saviour.
The Holy Spirit operates in two different ways to bring about conversion:
Externally by the gifts of utterance and even miraculous signs
Internally giving such inward graces like faith, repentance, love, peace, joy, which make the elements of a new spiritual in the soul. It is by this that He applies the truth with power to a sinner’s heart and conscience, subduing his will, and bringing him into captivity to the obedience of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who is able to open both the heart and eyes of sinners so that they are able to be turned from the darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to the power of God
The direct and immediate means of conversion
The direct and immediate means of conversion is preaching of the gospel truth, applied to the heart and conscience by the Holy Spirit. No conversion followed on the gift of tongues or the prayer. Conversion came after the gospel was proclaimed to the public.
Three successive stages in the experience of those who were converted.
The whole crowd was called to witness the miraculous gift of tongues. this produced awe and wonder in some and scorn and contempt on others – these are the effects of the gospel wherever it is proclaimed, some reject the gospel and others are left with anxious inquiry.
The second one the work of conviction
The bible says that were pricked in their hearts even to inquire, “what shall we do to?”
The third stage the work of real conversion.
At this point the sinner is persuaded to embrace the Lord Jesus for his own salvation.
Peter starts with dealing with the minds of his audience who well biased against the disciples. He deals with the accusations that the mockers had against them – that they were intoxicated or at best over-excited for nothing!
He then goes to the Scripture in the prophetic passage Joel relating the events of the day with the fulfillment of this passage. He then proceeds to show that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah, approved of God among them as attesested by signs and miracles. This he does by tracing the life of Jesus from his beginning at Nazareth, through his public ministry to the cross, from the cross to the grave and from the grave to the heavenly throne. He very powerfully appeals to their own knowledge to preach Christ and Him crucified, leaving them with guilty consciences. The main objective of peter is to show these Jews that “God has made the same Jesus whom you have crucified both Lord and Christ.” That the same Jesus who was born at Bethlehem, brought up in Nazareth, crucified on Calvary, was the messiah who had been promised to the fathers, and that he was as His Name says – the Anointed of God.
The effect of this sermon is that the people are brought at the point were they could see the danger with which they had placed themselves in and their utter helplessness. When they open their mouth to show their poor state, peter carefully points them to “Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and unto your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
Look at the freeness of the gospel – it starts with Jerusalem! That city of murderers who having killed God’s prophets, now kill His very own Son.
THE RESULT OF THIS GREAT WORK
Three thousand souls were converted suddenly by one sermon. There is much in this account to encourage the militant church to zeal. Zeal in prayer, in preaching and to devotion on the spiritual things. The sudden and simultaneous conversion of many souls, and the daily and gradual increase of the church by the successive single additions to their number are both mentioned in this passage.
What is baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ?
It is to be baptized in His divine authority, acknowledging His claims, subscribing to His doctrines, engaging in His service and relying on His merits.
Who qualifies for this wonderful blessing?
The promise is for YOU and your POSTERITY and EVERYONE else wherever he may be as long as the Lord calls him to Himself. The call of God is without boundaries or any restriction whatsoever.
Note how this word was received – gladly. They received this word cheerfully and with joy.
They were baptized the same day and became members of this church at the same time.
How does one become a part of this spiritual society called the Christian church? How does one become a member of this community of living people that we find in the book of Acts? How does one become a Christian? What does it mean to become a Christian?
There is time when one I s not a Christian and then he becomes one. It is something very definite and concrete. We are told that on this particular day three thousand people who were not Christians were added to the number of the very first church.
According to the NT, the people who do not know what it is to be a Christian, or cannot tell why they they are Christians, by definition, are not Christians at all.
If you read Peter’s sermon, you see that he quotes his Scripture, he develops certain arguments logically. He makes his case and you cannot contradict it. But Peter’s sermon, read in cold print, does not account for the fact that three thousand people were converted. What gives a correct account is the action of the Holy Spirit – they were pricked in their hearts. Peter does not do that he is not able to do. It is for this reason that I believe that it is a misnomer to call this book Acts of Apostles because I believe it should be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit!
Men and women who heard Peter were in trouble in their consciences because the Holy Spirit was working greatly in their hearts and consciences. For this reason the Bible says that they cried out. This was the work of the Holy Spirit, and there would never have been a Christian church but for this work of the Holy Spirit. This is what makes the church to be there and gives her the impetus to persist. This is the explanation for the revivals and reformations of all the centuries. Christianity is not something that any John or Mary can take up because it is the Lord who works through His Spirit to bring about conviction, confession and conversion in a sinner. The conversion of the three thousand people was entirely because of the descent of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Spirit using the Word of God and the lips of a frail ignorant man, driving the words into the minds and hearts and consciences of those listening. Paul says: 1Cor.2:1,2: Ephe 2:1-5
The Holy Spirit goes into a person using the Scriptures and applying it into them. He is a powerful influence, and influence that baffles our understanding, defying analysis and explanation, but just know that it has happened.
How does the Holy Spirit work in the life a sinner?
He causes a person to think – Peter in this sermon says ‘therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made that same Jesus, who you have crucified, both Lord and Christ. The Spirit make us to think not about ourselves to start with, because Christianity does not begin with us, to think about Christ. This is what Peter made this crowd to think about. They were given the objective historical facts about Him and they for the first time turned their necks to see Jesus for who He was and is. When they were pricked in their hearts they were thinking about He whom they pierced. You have lived a life of sin by default, you have lived in ignorance to Christ who the fountain and source of life, so you were also involved in crucifying Him. By doing nothing about Him, you reject and crucify Him.
The bible shows the Pharisees as the most hopeless people in the bible because they have no use or place for Him. They reject Him in totlality, the publicans