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Friday, June 2, 2023

More on Peter’s First Sermon – Calling On the Name Of The Lord

I wrote sometime in the past an article on Peter’s first sermon, the one recorded in Acts 2 delivered on the Day of Pentecost, the day the church was established, the first gospel sermon ever preached by man after Christ’s resurrection.  I titled that article “Receiving the Gospel.”  I thought it good to go back and look again at that sermon and expound a little more on it.

As you recall a crowd was drawn together that day in the city of Jerusalem by a noise that sounded like “a rushing mighty wind.” (Acts 2:2, 6 NKJV)  This was occasioned by the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles gathered together as a group (Acts 2:4).  Peter then begins his sermon starting with the explanation of the event by quoting the prophet Joel from Joel 2:28-32 and he says this is the fulfillment of that prophesy (Acts 2:16). 

The part I am interested in today for our purposes is the last quote from Joel (verse 32 in Joel 2, verse 21 as quoted by Peter in Acts 2), “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be save.” (Acts 2:21 NKJV)  Peter says that prophecy is now being fulfilled before you gathered here.  This was, is, and will forever be great news for all humanity as long as the earth shall stand.  It is God’s promise to all of us no matter how badly our lives have turned out otherwise.  The key word in this Holy Spirit inspired declaration is the word “whoever.”  Many translations use the word “everyone” (the ESV, NAS, NIV, NET, and the CSB).  The promise of God is that you will not be excluded.  It is “whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17 NKJV)  God is “not willing that any should perish.” (2 Peter 3:9 NKJV) 

The only stipulation is that a person calls on the name of the Lord.  So what is involved in that?  Well, we know it is not saying to Jesus “Lord, Lord” for Jesus himself says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21 NKJV)

Do you suppose Peter in that first sermon might have told his audience what the Lord’s will for them was?  Yes, I think we would all agree upon that.  After he preached his sermon and it became evident many believed his message about Christ even to the point of asking what they could do about the sin they had committed against the Lord (Acts 2:37) Peter responded.  “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 2:38 NKJV)

In doing what they were instructed to do they had called upon the name of the Lord.  They were saved.  The scripture says, “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” (Acts 2:41 NKJV)  Were they added to the saved or to the damned?  Let the reader answer.

Remember Peter earlier, in the beginning of his sermon, had told the crowd, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  They are now saved.  Had they called on the name of the Lord?  What had they done?  Let the reader answer.  I ask this of the reader for it is easier to see the truth when we see it for ourselves versus someone else telling us what it is.  We need to reason it out for ourselves.

Calling on the name of the Lord means doing what God tells us to do with full faith that he will respond by doing what he told us he would do.  The people on the Day of Pentecost obeyed Peter’s spirit-inspired preaching of God’s will in faith that God would remit their sins if they would do so. (Acts 2:38)  God would do this for his spirit-inspired apostle said he would if they would do what he told them to do.

Paul’s own conversion experience is further confirmation of this truth.  Ananias in Acts 22:16 having been sent to Paul directly from God says to Paul, a man who because of his experience on the road to Damascus is already a believer and penitent, to “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16 NKJV) 

There are two very important points to be made here.  (1) Paul was not yet a saved man.  He still had sins to be washed away.  (2) He had not yet called upon the name of the Lord for if he had Peter told us in Acts 2 that all who do so are saved.

Ananias instructs Paul to call on the name of the Lord how -- by arising and being baptized.  If Ananias is correct that in being baptized Paul’s sins will be washed away making him sin-free Paul will then be a saved man.  If he is a saved man he is a man who has called on the name of the Lord.  God sent Ananias.  Ananias was not mistaken.

Neither Ananias nor Peter nor any other Christian believes there is anything magical in water to wash away sins.  There was no magic potent in the water of the Jordan River Naaman was instructed to bathe in to cure his leprosy in the Old Testament either.  The power lies in doing by faith what God tells you to do with faith believing if you do that God will do in turn what he promises as a result thereof.  Paul’s sins were washed away in water because of God’s promise.  “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:16 NKJV)  Such a person has called upon the name of the Lord.

[To download this article or print it out click here.]

This article was written in late May of 2023.


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