Even Demons Believe, Chapter Ten

Table of Contents

10. The First Sermon

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If someone decides to pay the cost, how then does he become a Christian? How does someone begin the process of being crucified to self? What does it really mean to believe in the Lord or to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? Correct answers to these questions grant anyone a brand new life if he comes to God with faith. Answering correctly allows one to discover how to be “saved.” For answers we need to look no further than the very first sermon Peter preached aer Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. All preachers and churches should imitate this model sermon if they want to present God’s grace correctly.

  • “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucied, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” (Acts 2:36–40)

God shows that baptism is the next salvation step for those who have counted the cost. All the elements of Luke 14 are present in Peter’s salvation sermon.

The message of the cross is clearly presented. Because they knew Jesus’ life, they understood what the cross would mean for their lives.

Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.
(verse 36)

  • Deep conviction over their utter sinfulness came over them. They were “cut to the heart,” about who they were before God. is was no intellectual understanding or selsh desire to be blessed by God. They knew they were enemies and the terms of peace were complete surrender of everything.

  • … they were cut to the heart … (verse 37)

  • They asked how to be saved and were broken and humble enough to accept God’s way of righteousness.
    They did not argue or complain and look for some other way to ask Jesus into their life.

  • “Brothers, what shall we do?” (verse 37)

All who “accepted” Peter’s message, which was really God’s oer of mercy, were baptized. Those who would not accept what Peter preached, forfeited eternal life in heaven.

  • Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
    (Acts 2:41)

They did not, as today, come forward and ask Jesus in their hearts, speak in tongues, or raise their hand and mock back a prayer recited by the preacher. They were not so arrogant as to devise another way to salvation. Yet many will strive to discount the rest of Scripture by quoting Paul when he stated that God did not send him to baptize (1 Cor. 1:17). This is a staggering argument since Paul himself was baptized to “wash” “away” [his] “sins.” Paul understood that God declared that the way a man washes away the sins in his life is through the cleansing waters of baptism. How can a man say his sins have been washed away, when he has not been washed?

  • And now what are you waiting for [Paul]? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name. (Acts 22:16)

In 1 Corinthians 1:17, Paul means that baptism is not to be used as some prideful act to gain followers. People quickly started saying, “I follow Paul” versus some other person. It is natural for man’s sinful nature to boast in whom they follow, and who wouldn’t take some secret pride in being baptized by Paul? Jesus Himself did not baptize just for this reason, but He taught His disciples to baptize. It wasn’t that Paul did not baptize, he was just “thankful” he didn’t in Corinth so that no one would fall into boasting. Indeed, Paul baptized Lydia and it was only after her baptism that she was able to “persuade[d]” them she was a “believer in the Lord.”

  • One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of yatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. (Acts 16:14–15)

Notice that Paul baptized the jailer in Acts 16:33 and mature believers in Acts 19:5. Paul did not say that he never baptized. The point was that he personally did not baptize particular individuals because they might become pued up in pride. To quote Paul, “I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.” (emphasis added) Paul and the apostles humbly submitted to God’s righteous plan of saving man. They baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Preaching the complete and “full message” caused everything to come together at once. They received the Holy Spirit, grace, mercy, and all the fullness of what it means to be saved all at one time. They did not complain that Peter made this salvation by works, therefore God could work His salvation in them. Indeed, Peter later preached in the book of 1 Peter that “this water” saved them. To put it in his words, “this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you.”

  • … and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, … (1 Peter 3:21)

Note well that water baptism receives its saving power from the “resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Those who complain about it argue against Jesus being raised from the dead. In other words, the faith of Romans 10:10 comes alive for the first time through water baptism. For only as we believe in our “heart and confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord” will we have the kind of faith that can save us through water baptism.

Truths To Ponder, Beliefs To Examine

  1. What opinion do you have about the way of salvation?

  1. What opinion do you have about the way of salvation?

  1. What opinion do you have about the way of salvation?

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