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Acts 2:37-41 – Our necessary response

Peter has told the people of Jerusalem that the only way they can be saved is to call upon the Lord. He has then identified the Lord as Jesus of Nazareth whom they crucified. This places Israel in a difficult position. How can they be saved if they must call out to the one whom they killed? It is unsurprising that when the people hear this they are cut to the heart and ask Peter and the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter tells them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The amazing grace is that despite their rejection of Jesus they can repent and still call upon him.

It is also amazing that they can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This gift is not just for the original disciples but also for those who will repent. Peter includes not just themselves as beneficiaries of this promise but also their children and all God’s people who are scattered under heaven.

Interestingly Peter also says this promise is for everyone in the Lord our God calls to himself. Whereas previously we were told that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, we are now told that the saved are those whom the Lord God calls to himself. This raises the question: who calls who? The answer is both. Peter exhorts the people to call on the Lord and they actually do this when having heard the word they are cut to the heart. The reason they do this is because of the powerful work of the Spirit accompanies Peter’s speaking (which the Spirit enables). Hearts are changed. First the Lord God calls people to himself by his Spirit and then those people call on the Lord Jesus – Salvation is necessarily trinitarian!

Peter uses many other words to be a witness and he continues to exhort people to be saved. The results of this is 3000 people receive his word and are baptized and added to the people of God.

To say that the gospel is about forgiveness of sins is only half the gospel. In Acts 2 the gospel brings two benefits – the forgiveness of sins and the life-changing gift of the Spirit. Why is the latter so often not included? What does the trinitarian understanding of the gospel add to our appreciation of our salvation?