The book of Acts is about the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus. “… and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). After Jesus spoke final words of instruction to his followers: “9. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11. Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11). They were amazed to see Jesus just disappear from the earth into Heaven. Then, obeying Jesus’ instructions, they returned to Jerusalem. The Gospel spread, first in Jerusalem, then in Judea, into Samaria, and finally to the rest of the known world. Salvation is available to anyone who would believe. “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
Throughout the book of Acts, Jesus’ followers began to understand what it was Jesus did when He came, and even why He did the things that He did. The understanding begins with the importance of his death, burial, and resurrection.
As Peter preached Jesus to the people, he initially directed his message to the Jews, for they had rejected Jesus, crucifying Him. “22. Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23. Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:22-24). Holden means “to use strength to hold or retain.” When Jesus could not be held by death, He took that power of death that had previously been held by the devil, Satan, “… that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14b). Death could not hold Jesus for he conquered it. Jesus then gives eternal life to any who will believe in Him.
Peter continued to explain to the people that because Jesus could not “be holden of it,” Jesus rose from the dead – and this people he was speaking to were witnesses. “32. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses … 36. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:32, 36). All of the house of Israel should have recognized that Jesus, whom they had crucified, was both Lord and Christ. Christ means “the Savior of the world.” They were to recognize that Jesus is the Savior of the world.
How did they respond? “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). When they heard the gospel message preached, they were “pricked in their heart.” Pricked means “greatly pained or deeply moved.” It is important that the gospel message had a movement in their heart. Sometimes we call this “conviction” (which means “found guilty of an offense”). However, it was more important what those people did with that movement. Peter told them what they must do. “38. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38-39). The people had to take action: repent. Repent means “to imply pious sorrow for unbelief and sin, and a turning from them to God and the gospel of Christ.” Repentance is a response between a sinful man and God. Baptism is an outward testimony of what happened to that individual’s heart. Notice that God “called” them. Call means “God’s call through the gospel message.”
Have you heard or been pricked in your heart when you heard the Gospel Message of Jesus?
Have you responded to the call of God through the Gospel message?