Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Acts 2:21
After five deaths and fifty-one injuries in elevator accidents in 2016, New York City launched an ad campaign to educate people on how to stay calm and be safe. The worst cases were people who tried to save themselves when something went wrong. The best plan of action, authorities say, is simply, “Ring, relax, and wait.” New York building authorities made a commitment to respond promptly to protect people from injury and extract them from their predicament.
In the book of Acts, Peter preached a sermon that addressed the error of trying to save ourselves. Luke, who wrote the book, records some remarkable events in which believers in Christ were speaking in languages they did not know (Acts 2:1–12). Peter got up to explain to his Jewish brothers and sisters that what they were witnessing was the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy (Joel 2:28–32)—the outpouring of the Spirit and a day of salvation. The blessing of the Holy Spirit was now visibly seen in those who called on Jesus for rescue from sin and its effects. Then Peter told them how this salvation is available for anyone (v. 21). Our access to God comes not through keeping the Law but through trusting Jesus as Lord and Messiah.
If we are trapped in sin, we cannot save ourselves. Our only hope for being rescued is acknowledging and trusting Jesus as Lord and Messiah.
Have you called on Jesus to rescue you from your sin?
Rescue comes to those who call on Jesus for help.
Luke records the coming of the Holy Spirit in wonderfully descriptive language. For the disciples, the entire three years of walking with Jesus would have been astounding, but the last two months prior to the day of Pentecost would have been especially intense: the trial, the crucifixion, hiding in fear, the resurrection, the ascension. And it all led to the coming of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the gospel. Luke doesn’t record the reactions of the disciples, but imagine being in their sandals. As you are together with your closest friends, you hear the sound of wind—inside the house! What appears to be fire descends on you. Even with everything you have seen, the temptation to flinch would have been great. God’s presence was both terrifying and empowering. But it’s this fire that sparks the first gospel message, the message of salvation in Jesus.
If you’ve ever lived in a desert or experienced a long-term drought, you understand how essential water is. Without it, plants dry up, crops fail, animals languish with thirst, and before long the ground cracks and dust starts to blow. Sometimes, this is how life feels, too—dry, fruitless, unsatisfying, and futile.
But this should not be the case for believers. Even if the externals of life resemble a drought, inside we have the ever-flowing living water of the Holy Spirit. Of all the word pictures employed in the Bible to depict the Spirit, a river of living water ranks among the most powerful. He is seen as the source of vitality and abundance in our lives. Like a continually moving stream, He flows through us, performing His sanctifying work of transforming us into the image of Christ.
Getting to know the Spirit is a lifelong process. As we walk in obedience to Him, we experience both His quiet guidance through life’s challenges and His power displayed in our weakness. We marvel when He brings to light a passage of Scripture and find solace in His comfort when we’re hurting. His convictions guide us to repentance so we can be cleansed with living water. And His promptings and warnings keep us from heading down the wrong path.
Because the life-giving Spirit dwells within us, no Christian has to live a dry, fruitless life. Of course, if we opt to live as we please and indulge in sin, we’ll quench Him. But the more we learn of Him in Scripture and walk with Him in obedience, the more His life will flow through us.
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:5)
Those with a “form of godliness” are much more difficult to recognize than those who are openly wicked. Jesus gave His most harsh criticism to the hypocritical leaders of the religious sects of His day. Jesus also warned of “false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
On another occasion, Jesus illustrated the challenge of identifying those who looked like God’s people but were really “tares” that the Enemy had sown among the wheat. In His parable, Jesus indicated that even the “servants of the householder” might uproot the wheat along with the tares (Matthew 13:24-30). The Corinthian church was warned about the same problem when they were told that “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
We are strongly urged to “turn away” from these kinds of people. They have the ability to cause serious damage among the churches. They will “creep” into “houses” (a metaphor for churches—1 Timothy 3:15) and will lead “silly women” away with many different desires (2 Timothy 3:6). They will resist the truth and will have power like the magicians of Egypt who deceived Pharaoh and opposed Moses. And like those magicians, their minds are corrupt (focused on sin) and are already condemned (2 Timothy 3:8).
The good news is that they will be forcibly stopped and exposed as foolish (2 Timothy 3:9). Peter notes that they will have swift destruction (2 Peter 2:1-3) and will utterly perish in corruption (2 Peter 2:12-13). Like the magicians who produced snakes, blood for water, and frogs aplenty (Exodus 7-8), they will be unable to go any further and will be forced to say, “This is the finger of God” (Exodus 8:19). HMM III
Acts 11:1-4, 18-30
Peter had baptized the Gentile household of Cornelius, and so novel an action could not pass unnoticed: the report soon reached the apostles at Jerusalem, and Peter was called upon to explain; he did so, and all were satisfied, and rejoiced in what the Lord had done.
It would seem that a number of Jewish Christians attached an undue importance to circumcision, and made a kind of party in the church. The Holy Spirit does not conceal the faults and mistakes of good men; no histories and biographies are so impartial as those written by inspiration. Peter was no pope, for the common disciples called him to account; but he did not become angry, or claim to be infallible.
See here a beautiful example of humility and patience. Peter had been directed by the Lord in what he did, and the act itself was most commendable, yet he rose and defended his conduct without anger, in a calm, loving manner, and not only exonerated himself, but won over those who had differed from him. So that we read—
Would to God that all differences would end so sweetly. Probably they would, if all who are accused would defend themselves in as kindly a spirit as Peter did.
Getting into a new field they reaped large harvests. What a time it needed to teach these good men that Gentiles might be saved, and yet their Lord had told them expressly to preach the gospel to every creature.
This made him rejoice in the good which others had received, and also made him a fit medium for conveying good to many.
Acts 11:25, 26
They were named not after the word Jesus, for we cannot be joint saviours with him, but after Christ, the Anointed, for we also are anointed with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 11:29, 30
They not only wore the Christian name, but performed Christian actions: this act of true fellowship is one of the most beautiful things recorded in the Acts. The Jerusalem church sent a great teacher to Antioch, and the Antioch church, in return, showed its love by supplying the needs of their Judæan brethren. A munificent collection for a country suffering from famine would not astonish us now; but from men newly converted, while Christian love was yet a novelty, it was truly admirable. Let us be always ready to succour the Lord’s poor.
Well do I know, Thou God of the prophets and the apostles, that as long as I honor Thee, Thou wilt honor me. Help me therefore to take this solemn vow to honor Thee in all my future life and labors, whether by gain or by loss, by life or by death, and then to keep that vow unbroken while I live.
I beseech Thee, give me sharp eyes to detect the presence of the enemy; give me understanding to see—and the courage to report what I see faithfully.
Make my voice so like Thine own that even the sick sheep will recognize it and follow Thee.
O Lord, I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame, and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven.
I pray Thee, my Lord and Redeemer, fill me with Thy power by the Holy Spirit, and I will go daily in His strength. Then, when I am old and weary, have a place ready for me above and make me to be numbered with Thy saints in everlasting glory. Amen.
“But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” 1Peter 1:25
All human teaching and, indeed, all human beings, shall pass away as the grass of the meadow; but we are here assured that the Word of the Lord is of a very different character, for it shall endure for ever.
We have here a divine gospel; for what word can endure for ever but that which is spoken by the eternal God?
We have here an ever-living gospel, as full of vitality as when it first came from the lip of God; as strong to convince and convert, to regenerate and console, to sustain and sanctify, as ever it was in its first days of wonder-working.
We have an unchanging gospel, which is not today green grass, and tomorrow dry hay; but always the abiding truth of the immutable Jehovah. Opinions alter, but truth certified by God can no more change than the God who uttered it.
Here, then, we have a gospel to rejoice in, a word of the Lord upon which we may lean all our weight. “For ever” includes life, death, judgment, and eternity. Glory be to God in Christ Jesus for everlasting consolation. Feed on the word today, and all the days of thy life.