"So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41 NAS)
In my younger days before computers I use to hear about preachers on TV or radio who would tell their listening audience that if they wanted to receive Jesus and salvation just lay their hands on top the device, say certain words in the form of a prayer, and as a result you would be saved provided of course that you were sincere. For all I know they may still be telling them that as I do not watch TV evangelists. It sounds good but was there ever any truth to it?
In Acts 2 just about everyone admits that Peter preached the first gospel sermon ever to be preached. The text then says, "those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:41 NAS) What was his word they received? Was it the gospel? If it was not the gospel there was no power in it to save for Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” (Rom. 1:16 NKJV)
Most denominational bodies run into serious trouble with this verse (Acts 2:41) for if Peter did indeed preach the gospel then to receive it means one is baptized. It was only those who did not receive his words who were not baptized. They cannot accept that nor are they willing to.
The New Living Translation, a dynamic equivalence translation now more generally known as functional equivalence, puts it this way, "Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day …”. The International Standard Version translates this way, "So those who welcomed his message were baptized …”. The New King James Version says, "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized …".
I guess one who does not believe that baptism is essential for remission of sins can choose his poison here. What had Peter preached? "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins ...”. (Acts 2:38 NAS)
Will one "believe" what Peter said as per the New Living Translation, or will he "welcome Peter's message" as per the International Standard Version, or will he "gladly receive" his message as per the New King James Version? Most denominationalists will do none of the above. Not only will they not receive Peter's words, words spoken by the Holy Spirit, but they are ashamed of them. You could not pay them to preach the sermon Peter did with its closing of "repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38 KJV) They do not believe what Peter spoke, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to be true. They are not willing to receive his words.
Be all of that as it may do not be misled. God is able to say what he means to say. He is able to communicate clearly. If you gladly receive the word Peter preached (I ask again did he preach the gospel?) you will do what he by the Holy Spirit told you to do.
Please note those who did not receive his word, the gospel, were those who did not repent and were not baptized and were not added to them (to the disciples) that day.
I know religion is full of emotion and emotion often overpowers the ability to think and reason correctly. We have so much invested in a false proposition we will not allow our minds to even think it could be otherwise or even consider such a thing. However, the Christian religion is based on truth (not error), and the overcoming of self, and acceptance of God which means accepting what he says. You can obey Jesus by obeying the words of Peter if you will. Emotions can change over time. Truth cannot.
Originally written April 2011
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