Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 11, 1955
NUMBER 14, PAGE 6,13b

Conversion Of The Pentecostians

Hoyt H. Houchen, San Antonio, Texas

Before Jesus died, he could do with his will what he pleased. He said to the thief on the cross in Luke 23: 43, "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise"; he said to the man sick of palsy in Mark 2:5, "Son, thy sins are forgiven"; and to the woman accused of adultery, he said in John 8:11, "Neither do I condemn thee: go thy way; from henceforth sin no more." Jesus saved the thief on the cross and others without baptism because as he had not yet died, his will or testament was not yet in operation. This is made clear by the inspired writer who penned these words in Hebrews 9:16, 17: "For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him that made it. For a testament is of force where there hath been death: for it doth never avail while he that made it liveth." Since the will of Christ became effective after his death, we are interested in knowing what the terms or the conditions of that will are, because they apply to us who are living on this side of the cross. Let us now take our Bibles and turn to the first example of conversion after the death of Christ, Acts 2.

After the preliminary events in this chapter, Peter spoke to the multitude that had assembled. Jesus had said to Peter in Matthew 16:19, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Peter was given the keys, a figure of speech denoting that he would make known the terms or conditions by which people would enter the church. He is about to announce those terms in this chapter, as later he announced them to the Gentiles. (Acts 10.)

But what about the sermon, of what did it consist? It contained definite points. Peter first showed that Jesus was God-approved. This audience of Jews had to be convinced that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. Peter stated in verse 22, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, even as ye yourselves know." It is well to observe that Peter does not argue the facts; he simply states them.

The second point of this great sermon was that Jesus was delivered up by the determinate counsel and fore-knowledge of God. This was stated in verse 23. It should be observed that the Jews accepted God but they denied Christ, therefore, Peter showed that Jesus was not only approved by God but that it was by his determinate counsel and fore-knowledge that he was delivered up.

Peter made the third point of this sermon in verse 23. He said, "Ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay." It was God's plan that Jesus should die (John 3:16), but nevertheless those who took part in the crucifixion of Christ were free moral agents; therefore, they were guilty. Peter charges his hearers with taking part in that crime.

The fourth point of the sermon is made in verse 24 and that is the affirmation that God raised Jesus from the dead. To prove this proposition, Peter introduced three arguments. The first one is David's testimony as given in verse 27 and quoted from Psalms 16, "Because thou wilt not leave my soul unto Hades, Neither wilt thou give thy Holy One to see corruption." Peter shows that this person to whom David referred was not David himself because David's tomb was in the very environs of Jerusalem. David had died and was buried there, so David was not speaking of himself. The second argument to prove that Jesus was raised from the dead is in verse 32, "This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we are all witnesses." The resurrection of Jesus Christ was attested to by those who witnessed it. And the last argument in favor of Christ's resurrection was the wonderful demonstration which these people had seen on that day, the day of Pentecost. With force Peter affirmed in verse 33, "Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear." Peter then climaxed his wonderful discourse with these words in verse 36: "Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified." This completed the sermon.

What was the effect of this sermon upon the audience? The hearers were convicted. They were not convicted by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit, but they were convicted by the words spoken by Peter. They were convicted by the Holy Spirit because Peter preached the message of the Holy Spirit, but they were not saved by a direct saving power apart or separate from the word that was preached. When people are convicted today they are convicted by the gospel and they are also convicted by the Holy Spirit because it is through the preaching of the word that the Holy Spirit does his conviction. Those people were pricked in their hearts and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" It is to be noted that these people were believers; they were not infidels; therefore, Peter did not tell them to believe. If Peter were like some modern day preachers he would have said, "You cannot do anything because it was fixed before the foundation of the world as to who would be saved and who will be lost." And if Peter were like some preachers of our present day he would have said, "You have already believed; therefore, you are saved. You are saved the very moment you believe. All you have to do to be saved is just believe." If Peter preached the doctrine of "faith only" that would have been his answer. Neither did Peter tell those people to get down and pray. But what did Peter tell the audience? He commanded in Acts 2:38, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins." It is sad that many preachers do not tell people to do that today. It is tragic that men claiming to be preachers will trifle with the word of God. In the 40th verse of this 2nd chapter of Acts, Peter said, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." It was their move. God had provided the grace, the gospel had been preached, and now it was up to them to obey.

What were the results of that sermon? Verse 41 reads, "They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls." What did they do? They were baptized and as a result the Lord added them to the church. (Acts 2:47.) Why not do just as these people did? Hear the word, believe the word, repent, and be baptized. When you do these things, you are saved and the Lord adds you to the church.