S.R. Acts 2:21-38

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  1. The Holy Spirit through the apostle Peter states the thesis of the message.
    1. “And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21)
    2. This quote from Joel 2:32 is an announcement of the availability of salvation for all in the Messianic era.
  2. What is involved in “calling upon the name of the Lord?”
    1. Is it merely saying, as many claim, “the sinner’s prayer” for salvation?
    2. Does it merely require “faith only” (mental trust in Jesus) for salvation without any overt acts of obedient faith?
  3. The Bible is its own commentator, so let us look to context to detail what it means to “call on the Lord” for salvation.
  4. First, why do we need to call upon the Lord?
    1. We are stuck in the hole of sin from which we cannot extract ourselves by our own meritorious bootstraps (Romans 3:8).
    2. We are trapped in a debtor’s prison of sin and bankrupt to buy our way our way out.
    3. We are enslaved to the cruel taskmaster of sin’s addiction, and need a Redeemer to liberate us (John 8:34-36).


  1. Trust in the Lord Jesus
    1. Acts 2 records that Jesus is the Lord and that the Jews rejected and killed their Messiah.
      1. The theme of Acts 2:21 is fleshed out in describing: Who Jesus is; What He did and How He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies pointing to the Messiah.
      2. His miracles give public confirmation that he came from (Acts 2:22; cf. John 3:2)
      3. His atoning death, burial and resurrection are the centerpieces of God’s saving plan (Acts 4:10-12).
      4. These events fulfilled God’s prophecies pointing to the Christ, the son of David.
    2. In true gospel preaching, the person and work of Jesus must be the focus of faith and commitment.
      1. The gospel has not been preached if Christ and His work is not known (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
      2. To evangelize these Jews, note that Peter did not initially preach on the nature of the church.
      3. This came later after they were converted to Christ and submitted to His authority (Acts 2:42-47).
    3. Therefore, one does not become a member of the Lord’s church in order to be saved; rather, one is a member of Christ’s one true church because he has been saved (Acts 2:47).
      1. The church is the effect, not the means, of salvation.
      2. Christ is the only savior; the church is the saved.
      3. An “institutional” or “historic” view of the church sees it as a holding vat for the blood of Christ, which is an entity apart from saved people.
      4. This develops into a misplaced “loyalty to the church” that eclipses “loyalty to Christ” (cf. Acts 11:23)
  2. Penitently Turn to the Lord Jesus
    1. When the Jews believed that Jesus fulfilled these OT prophecies and realized they had killed their Messiah, they were horrified.
    2. “Cut to the heart” indicated they were sincerely convicted of their sins. (Acts 2:37)
    3. Peter, in telling them how to “call upon the name of the Lord” tells them to repent (Acts 2:38)
      1. Repentance is renouncing all the vain things we trusted in before.
      2. It is renouncing the love and practice of sin in order to turn to the Lord as our first love.
      3. It is a U-turn in your life from sin to Christ as Lord and Master.
  3. Confess Jesus as Your Lord
    1. Not all of what Peter said on that occasion is recorded. “With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."
    2. Since the New Testament provides a harmony of God’s will regarding how we call on the Lord, please note (Romans 10:9-17).
      1. We learn that a loyal confession of Jesus’ deity: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’…you shall be saved… with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9)
      2. Our confession includes the recognition that God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9)
      3. See also Matthew 16:16, 18; 1 Timothy 6:12
    3. Some are embarrassed to confess the Lordship of Jesus before a sympathetic assembly on Sunday or Wednesday in publicly responding to Christ’s invitation.
    4. Although you may be baptized at any hour day or night (Acts 8:38; 16:33), you must ask yourself, “Would I be embarrassed to confess Christ as my Lord to my friends or co-workers the next day who ask what is happening in my life?”
    5. We must be willing to have courage to speak up for Christ to others before we are ready to commit our lives to Him (Matthew 10:32-33).
  4. Be Baptized into the Lord
    1. In the process of “calling on the name of the Lord”, Peter preached “be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38).
      1. Baptism (immersion in water) is an act of faith where we appeal to the Lord to cleanse us by his blood (1 Peter 3:21; Romans 6:3-4).
      2. Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of Christians, was told: “Now why do you delay? Get us and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16)
      3. This clearly shows that calling on the Lord is not merely saying the man made “sinner’s prayer”. It involves obedient faith expressed by immersion into Christ in order to be saved by Christ’s blood (Revelation 1:5).
    2. Calling on the Lord is a trusting, obedient response of a failed sinner who appeals to the Savior to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
      1. The basis of salvation is what the Lord has done for us.
      2. Our comprehensive confidence in appealing to and depending on the Lord for deliverance is essential to meet the terms of grace (Hebrews 5:9).
      3. We must never get over the fact that we are lost sinners deserving of hell without the Lord’s grace (1 Timothy 1:15; Galatians 2:20).
      4. “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him (Romans 10:12).
      5. This penitent humility will keep us gratefully Christ-centered in our efforts to glorify Him.
  5. Conclusion: Zeal for the Lord will spiritually flow from a loving heart that truly appreciates the blessings of salvation from sin (Titus 2:11-14).