Pricked in the Heart

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

The following is an excerpt from “The Biblical Path of Life, Year Three Quarter Two, Lesson 1”:

“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 the power of death that had previously been held by the devil, Satan. See the following verse to understand this: ‘… that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil‘ (Hebrews 2:14b). Understand that death could not hold Jesus, for he conquered it. (See also, how Paul later explained what Jesus did because of his death on the cross: ‘54b. … Death is swallowed up in victory. 55. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56. The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ‘ 1 Corinthians 15:54b-57.) Jesus gave the power of life to any who would 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, which had waited in the upper room, were witnesses. ‘32. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear… 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 2:32-33, 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 believe Jesus was 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 is 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. To think differently; a change of mind demanding a change of action.‘ 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.’

Remember what Jesus taught: Jesus wanted the people to receive (receive means ‘to accept an offer deliberately and readily) the kingdom of God. Understand the kingdom of God by the following: When the Pharisees asked Jesus when it should come. ‘And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation‘ (Luke 17:20). The words not with observation mean ‘you cannot see it with human eyes.” Jesus went on to say, ‘Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Within you means ‘it is located in your heart and affections; not external.’ If you remember, that is one reason we refer to being saved as ‘asking Jesus into your heart.’ You cannot see it with your eyes. The Gospel message is very simple – one must just believe. In other words, simply believe and receive without question. Jesus spent much of His ministry calling people to a time of decision – to believe in Him, or choose to reject Him. When Peter preached to the people, he preached the same message: God must call the individual’s heart, and that individual must repent. Then it is important to reveal to others just what God did (a testimony) by being baptized before witnesses. What did the people do once they understood? ‘Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls‘ (Acts 2:41). Those who believed and responded to God’s call were baptized. Notice that there were three thousand people who believed!

“What they did next was very important. ‘And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers‘ (Acts 2:42). Once there has been such a change in one’s heart and life, it is important to learn how to live this new life. Continued stedfastly means ‘faithfulness and steadfastness in the outgoings of the Christian life – especially in prayer.’ They understood that learning from the Apostles was important. These new Believers not only learned the doctrine (doctrine means ‘the teaching of the Apostles‘), but fellowshipped with them. Remember that the Apostles had spent three years of their lives walking with Jesus, learning from Him. This is something important that Christians should do even today: learn from Bible teachers who know God’s Word, and fellowship with other Believers as opposed to the lost world who have not given their hearts and lives to Jesus. Next, read of the blessing for those who not only believed, but also shared the Gospel message with others. ‘… And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved‘ (Acts 2:47b).”

Have you been “pricked in your heart” (been convicted), understanding that you are guilty of sin?

Have you then believed in Jesus, allowing Him into your heart and life?

How to be Saved

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