Acts 016 – The Beginning of the Church Age (pt. 10)Acts Acts 2:39-40 • Dr. Andy Woods • March 29, 2023 • Acts
The Beginning of The Church Age (PT. 10)
March 29, 2023
Dr. Andy Woods
All righty. Let’s open our Bibles this evening to the Book of Acts 2:39. We’re going to see if we can make it through verse 41 tonight. So we’re continuing on with our verse by verse study of the Book of Acts chapters 1- excuse me, chapter 2:1-4, as you know, is the coming of the Holy Spirit. Verses 5 through 13 is the Spirit’s impact as the Apostles were able to speak in languages that were known. Languages that they had never studied. And of course, when that happened, folks began to say- not everyone, but the onlookers said- well, that’s just drunkenness. So Peter in verses 14 through 36 stands up and preaches an amazing sermon tying together several Old Testament passages explaining that these signs are not the result of drunkenness, but rather the miracle-working Jesus who is at the Father’s right hand. And in the process, around verse 23, he condemned first century Israel for crucifying their own Messiah. So it’s a sermon that’s explanatory, explaining where the manifestations came from, the languages. But also weaved into it is guilt. Why bring up guilt? Because Israel, at least in the first century, her leadership was guilty. Just like we all are guilty. Amen? For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So it’s an amazing sermon. And that leads to the sermon’s impact, verses 37 through 47.
And two things happened: A) salvation, verses 37 through 41, which is the section we’re in right now. And B) the first church meeting in the church age. Verses 42 through 47. But you can’t have church until you have converts. And so verses 37 through 41 is an explanation as to how these converts came into existence. So notice, if you will, Acts 2. We finished verse 38, which had a lot of landmines in it. You know, Peter has preached the personal gospel of salvation verse 38. He’s talking about forgiveness of sins and that kind of a thing. And notice what he says there in verse 39 for the promise. Now, what promise would that be? That would be the forgiveness of sins through repentance, changing one’s mind about Jesus. And then baptism, as we’ve talked about, is an outward sign of an inward reality. “For the promise is for you and your children and for all [who] who are far off, as many as the Lord, our God will call to Himself.” So this personal gospel of salvation, where you trust Christ, you change your mind about Christ, you put your trust in Christ for salvation and the forgiveness of sins. It’s not just for you, in other words, the people listening. It’s also for your children and it’s also for those that are far off. Paul the Apostle in Acts 16:30-31, when he’s asked by the Philippian jailer, What must I do to be saved? Paul and Silas said, Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.
And then he also says, You and your household. In other words, the promise is not just for you to be saved. It’s for your household to be saved. When they come to faith as well. So that’s the kind of thing that Peter is getting at here when he says the promise of personal salvation is not just for you. It’s for your household as well. You know, it’s for your children. So we shouldn’t develop from this an idea that somebody’s family is saved just because somebody in the family gets saved. But what happens is if a family member gets saved, they will typically spread the good news of the gospel to other family members, giving them an opportunity to believe as well. So God doesn’t have grandchildren. He only has children. Everyone has to exercise their own faith in Christ in order to be saved. But it is interesting that when a family member gets saved, typically what happens is other family members will get saved because now they have a knowledge of the gospel as well from their saved family member. So that’s what Peter is saying when he says the promise is not just for you, it’s for your children. And then he says it’s for all who are far off. So what does it mean when he says all who are far off? It could be a reference to all of the diaspora Jews, the Jews in the dispersion who many of which came to Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost and got saved.
So the promise is not just for those in Jerusalem, but it’s for those in the diaspora, which means the dispersion as well. If you go back to verse 10 of Acts 2, it mentions there those who were from Rome. And you can see where Rome is there, away in the west in that map. Those who were from Rome, very end of verse 10. “visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes.” So a proselyte is basically someone who was not Jewish but wanted to learn about the true knowledge of God. And in Old Testament times- like Ruth, for example, converted to Judaism. So the promise is not just for those in Jerusalem. The promise is for all the Jews in the diaspora. The promise is for the Proselytes, like the ones that were there from Rome. And Paul the apostle in the book of Ephesians calls the Gentiles- that’s us- those that were far off. He talks about how we have all been made into one new man, the body of Christ, both believing Jews and Gentiles. And he says in Ephesians 2:17, it says, “He came and preached [peace] to you-” That’s the Ephesians Gentiles- “to you who were far off, and [peace] to those who were near.” So you’ll notice that the gospel is for those that were near, the Jews. And it’s also for those that are far off people, disconnected from Judaism, which would be Gentiles.
So the gospel is for the Jews and Jerusalem. It’s for the Jews in the diaspora. It’s for the proselytes. And Paul extends it further to the Gentiles, which would be us, most of which are us in the church age in the year 2023. So what is being taught here is basically what we will call universal atonement, which is the idea that Jesus died for every single person. Every single person in the world today and that’s ever been born into the world is savable. Now they’re not saved until they put their faith in Christ for salvation. But they are savable. And this is what is called unlimited atonement. Now very, very sadly, there are many people today in the realm of theology that teach limited atonement meaning that Christ only died for the elect. He did not die for the world. He died for a small fraction of humanity. So you’ll notice this quote here from Jay Adams in his book, Competent to Counsel. And I basically agree with the premise of Adams book. It’s a book that says pastors are competent to counsel from the Bible without getting into all of this kind of Freudian type theory that many secular counselors are involved in today. A lot of pastors feel like they’re not qualified to counsel people just from the Bible because they don’t know much about Freudian psychology or Carl Jung or people like that.
And Adams wrote a wonderful book explaining that, no, a pastor is qualified to counsel, competent to counsel from the scriptures, which is a wonderful premise. But what most people don’t know is Jay Adams was a very strong five point Calvinist who believed in limited atonement. And this is what he says in his book on page 70. He says, “But counselors, as Christians are obligated to present the claims of Christ. They [must] present the good news that Christ Jesus died on the cross in the place of His own, that He bore the guilt and suffered the penalty for their sins. He died that all whom the Father had given to Him might come unto Him and have everlasting life. [But] as a reformed Christian, the writer believes that counselors must not tell any unsaved council that Christ died for him, FOR THEY CANNOT SAY THAT. No man knows except Christ Himself, who are His elect for whom He died.” So what Jay Adams is saying in a very good book on another issue is he’s saying when you go to an unsaved person. Let’s say you’re counseling an unsaved person. You don’t tell the unsaved person that Jesus died on the cross for them because Adam said, You shouldn’t say that because you don’t know if they’re one of the elect or not. Which is to me, this horrific for him to say something like this. Because I am a believer in unlimited atonement. I think that’s what’s being expressed in verse 39. Adam’s, being wrapped up in reformed theology and Calvinistic thought, believes in limited atonement.
See, I have no problem going up to any unsaved person and saying Jesus died for them. Jesus died for you. I have no qualms about that. No issues, no reservations. But the Calvinists of this variety, it damages evangelism because they don’t go up and tell people that because their Calvinistic theology gets in the way. Because they’re not sure if Jesus really died for them. Because according to their belief system, Jesus died only for the elect. You know, when Peter here says the promises for you, your children, and those who are far off, he’s obviously not teaching limited atonement. He’s teaching unlimited atonement. A. W. Pink, in his very Calvinistic book, The Sovereignty of God, says, and I think here he’s interpreting John 3:16. Which says For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. A. W. Pink says, “The fact is, that the love of God is a truth for the saints only….In like manner, the ‘world’ in John 3:16 must, in the final analysis, refer to the ‘world’ of God’s people.” So he just took the world and shrunk it. Oh, that’s just the world of the elect. But you see, that’s not what John three verse 16 says.
I mean, there’s no way a person- I call this the desert island test- who’s stuck on a desert island with their Bible and doesn’t know anything about Calvinistic theology would ever read John 3:16 and conclude that God doesn’t love everybody. That He only loves the elect. There’s no way you could conclude that unless you had a Calvinist sort of swimming to the shore, explaining to you how the Bible needs to be interpreted through their grid. So here at Sugar Land Bible Church, we do not teach limited atonement. We teach unlimited atonement. In our Soteriology series that we did here a few years back, we went through all the passages that teach unlimited atonement. Here are a few of my favorites. First Timothy 4:10, which calls Jesus “the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” Is Jesus the savior of believers? Yes. But He’s also the savior of all men outside the realm of believers. See that? First John 2:2 says, “He himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only,” John speaking of believers, “not ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.” So the death of Christ? Yeah. He died for us apostles, John says. But not only for our sins, the sins of the world. And just to get the point across, clearly he doesn’t just use the world here. He adds an adjective in front of it. The whole world. Hebrews 2:9 says, Jesus came into the world to, quote, “taste death for every man.” And people might say, well, this is just theology.
Who cares about this? Well, here’s why it’s critical. It affects how you share the gospel. I mean, you know, a lot of people just don’t have confidence going to an unsaved person and saying Jesus died for you because they’re hoodwinked by reformed teaching. I am not hoodwinked by reformed teaching. I’m a reader of the word of God. And the word of God clearly tells me that Jesus died for the whole world. And so that’s how I evangelize. Any opportunity I get, I say, Jesus died for you. I don’t have to know if the person I’m evangelizing is one of the elect or not. That’s God’s business anyway. My job is to tell them that Jesus died on the cross for them 2000 years ago. In other words, if they were the only person on planet Earth, Jesus still would have died for them. Because the love of God is not something that is just for the church. It’s for the whole world. And so you can see here in verse 39, for the promise is for you and for your children and for all those who are far off. Now, look at the next part of verse 39. “as many as the Lord, our God will call to Himself.” I want to talk about this word “call” for just a minute, because the evangelistic method that many people use- and some of our popular preachers use this. There are a lot of parachurch ministries that use this.
It’s called the ABC Method of Evangelism. ABC means you’ve got to do three things. You have to admit you’re a sinner, number one. Number two, you have to believe for B. A) admit, B) believe, C) you’ve got a call on the Lord. And if you don’t do all three then you’re not a Christian. And I realize that some are a little less stringent on it than others, but others are like one, two, three. If you don’t do one, two, three, then you’re not saved. And I understand that that’s a nice formula. That’s easily memorable. But the question is not what slogans work in terms of marketing, but is the slogan found in God’s Word? So where do these types of evangelistic methods come from? They came from this man, Charles Finney, who led the second Great Awakening in America, and he brought in the concept of revivalism. Meaning methodology related to revivalism, meaning you have to induce conversions through any means possible. You know, let’s darken the lights of the sanctuary if we’ve got to get some dry ice or something, let’s bring that up. And you hear a lot of preachers say every head bowed, every eye closed. And then if you look around, you kind of feel guilty because the preacher told you to keep your eyes closed. You know, every head bowed, every eye closed. All right. Now put up your hand if you want to receive Christ.
I see that hand. Thank you, brother. I see that hand. I see that hand. Thank you, sister. I mean, where did all this stuff come from? Because it’s not in the scripture. There’s no example of anyone in the scripture evangelizing that way. Well, it came from a lot of the baggage that Charles Finney brought into Christianity as he led the second Great Awakening. And so what happens to people and I’ve been guilty of this myself in my younger years as a Christian is you evangelize the way you hear someone else evangelize. Someone else, your favorite pastor or whatever used the ABC method, so you so you start using it and you’ve never really, at least in my case, I’ve never really taken the time to investigate the Scripture to see if the ABC method of interpretation is even correct. Now, if you look at this very carefully, who’s doing the calling? Verse 39, “as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” So who’s doing the calling? Man or God? God is. So you can’t use this verse to develop the ABC method and say, well, the C here is to call upon the Lord. They love to use- if you go back to Acts two earlier in the chapter. If you look at verse 21. It says, and everyone that everyone. Excuse me. “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
So I guess one of my first battles that I faced here at Sugar Land Bible Church is we had a large parachurch ministry that was coming in and they were teaching the ABC method of conversion. And when I challenged them that there is no such thing as the ABC method of conversion in the Bible, one of our elders at the time, who’s no longer here but was sympathetic to their cause, quoted Acts 2:21, which says, And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. So there there’s the C in the ABC method. The problem with that is this is coming from Joel 2, isn’t it? We’ve studied this. Where Peter is explaining the work of the Holy Spirit in the tribulation period and the millennium. And he’s saying, just as the Holy Spirit is going to work in the tribulation period and the millennium, he’s sort of working in a similar way today. But when you quote Acts 2:21, you have to understand that that comes from Joel 2, which is not even dealing with the church age. Peter is analogizing it to the church age, but Joel 2 is not talking about the church age. Joel 2 basically is talking about the conversion of the nation of Israel at the end of the tribulation period. So what does it mean here when it says “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”?
You have to just cross reference it with Matthew 23:37-39 where Jesus, speaking to Israel just prior to His death in the Olivet discourse, says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” Does that sound Jewish there? “who kills the prophets and stones? Those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, [and] you were unwilling.” In other words, I wanted to gather you together in My first coming but the problem wasn’t Me. The problem was you- Jerusalem. You wouldn’t have Me. “Behold your house-” which is the temple, “-is [being] left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me-” And I’m sure glad the verse doesn’t stop there- “until.” In other words, Israel, you’re going to be in a state of blindness until. Until what? Until a condition is met. Well, what’s the condition until you. Who’s the you? Jerusalem, Jerusalem. Israel. “until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'” Which is Psalm 118:26, which is a messianic psalm. And what Jesus is saying, He’s not talking about the rapture here. This is not a rapture passage. He’s talking about the second Advent. He’s saying I am not coming back to you, nationally, to gather you until you publicly say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” In other words, you have to verbally proclaim, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
And it’s not until that happens or when it happens, then I’m going to return and rescue you from the anti-Christ at the end of the tribulation period. So this idea of you have to say something before Jesus can come back is something that Jesus said to the nation of Israel. So when Acts 2:21 says, “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” what is that verse exactly talking about? It’s talking about the conversion and proclamation of the nation of Israel at the end of the tribulation period. So Lewis Sperry Chafer called passages like this that deal with eschatology and Israel’s conversion and what Israel has to do and how people take these and apply them like Finney did to modern evangelistic methodology, is he called them dispensational misapplied passages. In other words, you’ve got your method down. ABC. Admit, believe, confess. Okay. Do I have an admit here in the Bible? Not really. Because it’s the Spirit that convicts us of sin, righteousness and judgment. So if the Spirit is already doing that, there’s no need to say, okay, Step one is to admit. That’s the Spirit’s job is to convict. So, A I don’t really see it in the Bible. The B is clearly there, as I’ll tell you in a minute. The Bible 160 times, says the only condition necessary to become a Christian is to believe or to trust in the work of the Messiah.
So they try to find an A, they try to find a B, and then they try to find a C, which is confess. And they’ve come up with their model in advance. And then they have to kind of leaf through the Bible to find a verse that fits. Because, you know, this ministry that I’m speaking of that was pushing this stuff on Sugar Land Bible Church, this is a ministry that’s all over the world. I mean, this is like an international ministry. They were teaching this ABC methodology. And when I articulated that, I don’t see ABC methodology in the scripture, they kind of looked at me like, well, who in the world do you think you are? I mean, you’re just a pastor of a little church. I mean, don’t you understand that we’re worldwide? And so what happens is people fall in love with the methodology because it’s good marketing and they’ve got to find Bible verses to support their preexisting methodology. So rather than adjusting their methodology to what the Scripture actually says, because you can’t undo a whole ministry at this point that’s going around the world teaching this. They rip scriptures out of context to support their preexisting methodology. You follow what’s going on here? And they end up teaching something to the lost that God never intended. So I need to see.
Let’s get out my Bible search. I need a C. Oh, there it is. Verse 21. Whew. I’m safe now. “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” There’s my C. I can rest easy. Never mind the fact that you just took a passage that’s tribulational in nature, Millennial in nature, national in nature and has nothing to do with personal salvation in the church age, and you used it to support your preexisting methodology. So if that one doesn’t work, what other verse do they use for the C? You guys already know it probably. Romans 10:9-10, right? What does that say? “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” So in addition to Acts 2:21, they’ll use Romans 10:9-10 to substantiate their C in the ABC methodology, largely introduced by Finney in the second Great Awakening. The problem with that is Romans 10 is in which section of the book of Romans? The Israel section. So you see what’s happening here? They’re going to verses dealing with the conversion of Israel at the end of the tribulation period and dragging that into the church age and tacking that on as an additional condition supposedly the lost sinner must meet in order to be saved.
So Romans 10:9-10 comes after Romans 8- Amen? Can I get an amen on that? Romans 8, written to Gentiles predominantly or members of the church age, I should say, says, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and those whom he also called, He also justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified.” So tremendous promise is given to us. And some guy in the back of the room raises his hand and says, Paul, I have a question. Paul says, Yeah, what’s your question? And the gentleman says, How can I trust this if God broke His word to the Jew? I mean, these promises are not worth the paper they’re written on if God can take all of the promises He’s made to national Israel and break them. I mean, if God can break His word to the Jew, He can break His word to you- Right?- because His character is not a covenant keeping character. So Paul says, I’m going to answer that question in the next three chapters. Romans 9, 10, and 11 are the Israel section. Why is the Israel section there? The Israel section is there to vindicate the promises that God has made at the end of Chapter 8.
So the theme of Romans 9, 10 and 11 is how can God be trusted to be faithful to us if He has been unfaithful to Israel? And Paul’s answer is He hasn’t been unfaithful to Israel. It looked as if God was unfaithful to Israel when this book was written, the Book of Romans. But God has a big plan in mind where He’s going to bring his elect nation, Israel, back into the fold. And that’s what Paul is explaining in Romans 9, 10, and 11. So Romans 9, Israel in the past: elected. And don’t get hoodwinked into all this big discussion about personal election in Romans 9. He’s not dealing with personal election in Romans 9. He’s dealing with the election of a nation. God chose a nation, the nation of Israel. Romans 9, Israel in the past: elected. Romans 10, Israel in the present: rejected. Romans 11, Israel in the future: accepted. So when you quote Romans 10:9-10 you have to understand that those verses are found in a particular context dealing with the nation of Israel. And what is going to break the blinders off Israel, what is going to precipitate the return of Jesus for Israel at the end of the seven year tribulation period to be rescued from the Antichrist, Israel has to do something. She’s got to confess or she’s got to call upon the name of the Lord. In other words, Israel has to fulfill the condition that Jesus outlined in Matthew 23:37-39.
“For I say to you [Jerusalem, Jerusalem], from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'” In other words, Romans 10:9-10 in the Israel section is connected to the condition that Jesus laid down in Matthew 23:39. So if all of that is true, why would you ever use this as part of your evangelism to the lost when that passage isn’t dealing with evangelism to the lost, it’s dealing with a condition that the nation has to meet before the second Advent can occur. That’s why Romans 10:9-10 is in the Israel section. This is what almost no one will tell you when they’re verbalizing their ABC method. They’ll just kind of run through these verses, most of them out of context. To get them to line up with a preexisting evangelistic methodology. And I think what’s happening is we’re getting more interested in marketing and kind of short, snappy statements that are memorable than what the biblical text actually says. And that becomes a problem if what I’m about to say is true. God has one condition for justification. He does not have three. He has one condition. Watch how we evangelized in our main services at this church. What I typically say is when the Spirit brings you under conviction. I don’t say admit you’re a sinner as condition one. Because it’s the Spirit’s job to convince you you’re a sinner.
Jesus said when the Spirit comes, He will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. He never said, When the spirit comes, He’s going to force people to admit that they’re sinners. The Spirit’s already doing that. So as the Spirit convicts you, place your faith in Jesus. Believe. And then we end it. We don’t say, okay, now get out there and call. Get out there and confess. Because for me to say, get out there and call, get out there and confess would be for me to add a condition that God has never given. Are you going to tell me that someone who hears the gospel in an Islamic country and doesn’t speak up about it because they know that their family is going to be massacred and tortured, that they’re not a true Christian because they didn’t fulfill the C? I mean, that’s just absurd. It doesn’t even work in the natural world. This was not in my notes. But if you look for a moment. At John 12:42. Gospel of John chapter 12, verse 42. I mean, this verse right here demolishes the ABC method of evangelism. It says, “Nevertheless many of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees, they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue;” In other words, you’ve got a whole bunch of people here that believed but wouldn’t say anything about it.
Why wouldn’t they say anything about it? Well, they were afraid of something. They were afraid of being pushed out of the synagogue. And if you got kicked out of the synagogue, you were basically kicked out of the economics of the nation. I mean, you were like an outcast. So they’re brand new Christians. They believed in Jesus, but they wouldn’t say anything. One of them was named Nicodemus. That’s why Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. Why did he come at night? He didn’t want anybody to know that he was talking to Jesus. He didn’t want anybody to know that maybe he actually had believed in Jesus. So is anybody going to sit here with a straight face and say, well, these people obviously weren’t saved because they didn’t fulfill the C. Of course they were saved. They met God’s condition which is to believe. Now, if you get saved, should you call? Should you confess? You probably should. And I think God will reward you for it. And I think if you suffer persecution because of it, that will be kept in mind at the judgment seat of rewards. You know, it’s a good thing to do, but it is not a condition of justification. And when we make it a condition of justification, we just added to the gospel of grace because we’re more interested in slogans and methodology than we’re interested in what God actually says. This is not complicated.
Lewis Sperry Chafer says, “…upwards of 150 passages of Scripture condition salvation upon believing only.” Genesis 15:6, one of the clearest Old Testament passages we have on justification. “Then he-” that’s Abraham- “believed in the LORD; And He-” that’s the Lord- “reckoned it to him as righteousness.” See how easy that is. It doesn’t say Abraham admitted he was a sinner, believed and then called. Admitted he was a sinner, believed and then confessed. It doesn’t say here that Abraham renounced all of his sins. It says that he fulfilled one condition, and that condition is faith alone. This is not rocket science. The Bible says this 150 times. I think his number is low. J.B. Hickson has a word document on his website, and it’s also in his doctoral dissertation where he shows you all 160 passages. And you’ll read these 160 passages and it’s like, how do we ever get this wrong? Schaffer says, “…because upwards of 150 passages [of Scripture] conditioned salvation upon believing only.” Some famous ones, John 3:16, for God so loved the world of the elect. Whoops- doesn’t say that. “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever-” admits and believes and confesses- doesn’t say that. “believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” We quoted earlier Acts 16:30-31. “‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They-” That’s Paul and Silas- “said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.'”
They didn’t say, Okay. Every head bowed, every eye closed. By the way, what do you do with people- and there’s accounts of this, I think if I remember right, Hal Lindsay was saved this way, reading the Gideon’s Bible in a hotel room. And thank God for those Gideons Bibles. And I’m not authenticating every little nook and cranny of the notes of the Gideon’s Bible. I’m just saying people at hotel rooms late at night, a lot of them are thinking about killing themselves. Instead of reaching into a drawer, instead of running into a bottle or another cigarette or a gun, a revolver, their hand hits a Gideon’s Bible and they open up to John 3:16, because that’s what the notes in the Gideon’s Bible say. And they believe John 3:16 and they get saved. Now it’s 2:00 in the morning. Who are you going to confess to? I mean, I guess you could order room service or something. I mean, are we going to say that, Oh, they didn’t fulfill the C. They’re not Christians. That’s ridiculous. So I bring this up because it mentions the word call, but it’s not Peter telling people to call on the Lord. What he’s saying is it’s the Lord calling them. They’ve got it completely the opposite. And if you want it to say they’ve got a call on the Lord, you’ve got to use what Chafer called a dispensational misapplied passage. You’ve got to go to Romans 10:9-10, rip it out of its context.
You’ve got to go to Acts 2:21, rip it out of its context to get it to work. So we work very hard at this church and putting out gospel tracts that get it right. Most gospel tracts out there, I’m embarrassed to say, are not right on this issue. They’ll say in the track, You’re saved by grace, not by works. And then they’ll give you three works you’ve got to do. Call, Confess, all these other things. When all the Bible says is to believe. I realize this is semi-heretical what I’m saying here in modern day Christianity. But in the Bible, you don’t even have such a thing as an altar call. You know, the altar call thing has bothered me for a long time because to be honest with you, there’s a lot of people in wheelchairs and can’t even come to the conference because they’re bedridden. They cannot walk an aisle. So is anybody going to say, well, they’re not Christians because they didn’t call on the Lord. They didn’t confess. They didn’t come out of the closet like they were supposed to. So what we’re doing out there in the name of marketing is we’re teaching very, very sadly, a works oriented gospel. I was at the College of Biblical Studies covering this in a class there, and one of my students came up to me and she said, I’m so glad you covered that.
And I said, Why? She goes, I have been scared out of my mind Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, because the preacher always says, I’ve got to come forward. And I didn’t want to come forward. I mean, I was afraid to come forward, so I thought I really wasn’t a Christian. And yet what you’re showing me is that I am a Christian even though I didn’t walk the aisle. So, Finney, even though he may have done some good things in terms of the second Great Awakening in America, it really sold us down the river in other ways because he introduced revivalistic methodology and marketing works, slogans work. We have to do this because it’s memorable. And at the end of the day, the issue shouldn’t be is it memorable? It should be- what? Is it biblical? Is it biblical? But it’s much easier to learn your methodology from somebody else hearing the way they do it incorrectly. Then investigating the Bible themselves. Because to go this direction, you actually have to read what the Scripture says. And you guys are readers of the Bible. You’ll look into the Bible and you’ll see everything that I’m saying here is true. And you have to have a knowledge of dispensations. You have to understand what passages are aimed at Israel and which ones are aimed at the church, which ones are national, which ones are individual. So we have conviction, verse 37.
We have repentance and baptism, verses 38 and 39. And then when you drop down to verse 40, you have the consequences. Verse 40: “And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!” So you notice the continuous activity that Peter was involved in. It’s not like he preached the message and then stopped. He kept talking. I guess he’d be a good pastor, right? He kept talking, it says, “with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying,” it’s continuous, perpetual activity that he was involved in in his preaching. Now, we’re not treated every word Peter said. We’re treated to the subjects that Luke thought was the most important. But he kept talking about this. Paul in the Book of Acts 20:31, it says this about Paul. It says, “Therefore-” Paul speaking- “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each [of you] to the point of tears.” So Paul kept preaching night and day. People think my sermons are long. I’m glad Paul wasn’t your pastor. And he kept going on and on for three years like this. And he did not cease admonishing the large group and then each of them individually. That’s the type of continuous activity that Peter is involved in. But notice what Peter says to these that he’s evangelizing. It’s the second part of verse 40. “Be saved from this perverse generation!”
Now here the word saved is different than how the concept is used in verse 38. Verse 38, the concept is be saved from the consequences of personal sins, so you won’t go to hell. But Peter here says something else also “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Which generation is he talking about? He’s talking about the nation of Israel in the first century whose leadership turned Christ over to Rome for execution. That generation is under judgment. Why is that generation under judgment? Because God gave to Israel a treaty called the Mosaic Covenant. And in the Mosaic covenant given to Israel, there are blessings nationally for obedience and curses nationally for disobedience. And what’s interesting is these are spelled out in Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26. And there’s a lot more curses in those chapters and blessings. It’s almost like God knew what would happen. And the way these curses work is they roll like a snowball until finally they reach their apex or their zenith or their climax when a foreign country will come against the nation of Israel and push them out of their land. At the height of these curses, the following would happen. “The Lord will bring a-” Deuteronomy 28:49-50- “The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand, a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young.”
God told Israel that’s what would happen. He told him that at Mount Sinai. And He’s outlining for them the cycles of discipline that the nation goes through when they’re disobedient. And you can’t get a more disobedient crowd than this because they rejected their own king. So what God has done in history is He has kept good on His word. The kingdom was divided in 931 BC because of Solomon’s disobedience. That’s the outworking of the curses. The North was scattered by the Assyrians in 722 BC because of the Northern Kingdom’s disobedience. In parentheses, you’ll see the main chapters of the Bible that speak of these cycles of discipline and how they were meted out on the nation. Left only the South. But the South was brought into captivity by the Babylonians, 586 BC, because of the Southern kingdom’s disobedience. And as Yogi Berra said, it’s deja vu all over again,- right? The same thing was about to happen probably about forty years later through Rome. God was going to bring Rome in AD 70 about forty years or so after these words were written or given by Peter. Because of this generation, first century Israel’s rejection of her own king, now God is going to use Rome forty years later in AD 70. So when Peter says, save yourself from this perverse generation. He’s saying get out of Dodge.
Get out of Jerusalem because Jerusalem is about to be destroyed. Jesus, in fact, spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, which we’re celebrating this Sunday, where He talked about the destruction of the temple. It’ll be torn apart brick by brick. So the word “save” here is like how the word is used in Hebrews 11:7, which says, “By faith Noah, being [warned] by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household.” “Save,” “salvation,” same Greek root. Is being saved from water. So every time you see the word save in the Bible, it doesn’t always mean I trusted in Christ. I’m saved. I’m going to heaven. I’m not going to hell. That is how Peter is using repentance; changing one’s mind in verse 38. But when you drop down to verse 40 and he says, Be saved from this perverse generation. He’s saying, Get out of here because Jerusalem is about to be destroyed. And you might be a believing Christian and your soul might be going to heaven, but you’re going to be caught here in Jerusalem in AD 70. And God has to destroy Jerusalem in AD 70 because he’s the one that outlined the cycles of discipline in the Mosaic covenant. So the church historian Eusebius- and you can see when he wrote very early on in church history- in his ecclesiastical history talks about a prophecy that was given in the early church. This prophecy was given about, we think, AD 66.
Eusebius says, quote, “But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approve men there before the war.” What war? AD 70. “to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Pieria called Pella. And when those that believed in Christ had come thither from Jerusalem, then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were entirely destitute of holy men, the judgment of God at length overtook those who had committed such outrages against Christ and His apostles and totally destroyed that generation of impious men.” What Eusebius is talking about is something that was well known in the early church where a prophecy was given to the Christians believers living in Jerusalem that you need to get out of here. You need to get out of this city. Well, where do we go? Go to Pella, which is in modern day Jordan, because if you don’t leave this city as Jesus said, would happen and as the cycles of discipline mandate, Rome is about to come and destroy this whole place. And it deserves to be destroyed because this is the generation that rejected their Messiah. That’s what Peter is talking about when he says be saved from this perverse generation. Get out. Go to Pella and be protected from the onslaught that’s about to happen in AD 70, where, by the way, I think around a million Jews were killed.
The Roman soldiers even tearing open- Josephus talks about- the wombs of the pregnant Jewish mothers to strangle the death the child that was inside of him. I mean, it was just horrific time. And Jesus said it was coming. The cycles of discipline said it was coming. Josephus explains how it came. And yet there was a warning for the Christians, Jewish believers living in Jerusalem, to leave and to flee to Pella. This is a prophecy that was given, according to Eusebius, before the events of AD 70. So they fled to Pella. Where was Pella. Pella was a town situated beyond the Jordan in the north of Pieria within the dominions of Herod Agrippa II. The surrounding population was chiefly gentile. Get out of Jewish territory and get into Gentile territory. Or you too will be swept away by the judgment that’s coming upon this perverse generation. So when Peter says be saved from this perverse generation, I think that’s what he’s talking about. In other words, he switched from personal salvation, verse 38, to being protected from the A D70 Holocaust. And so Jerusalem went down, as did Israel. And this is where the diaspora started, where the Jews now were pushed into worldwide dispersion. And I bring this up because a lot of people will tell you that the day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of Ezekiel 36. In fact, I was in a kind of a church bookstore, and they had little kids books in this particular bookstore.
And there was a little kind of child’s flip book cartoons covering the book of Ezekiel. And it got to Ezekiel 36 and it said Ezekiel 36 was fulfilled in Acts 2. No, it was not. Acts 2 was no fulfillment of Ezekiel 36. Because Ezekiel 36 is a national conversion of Israel in the end times. That obviously did not happen in Acts 2. Because the nation continued on and was swept away into judgment forty years later. We will read about, next week, 3000 saved, which is wonderful, verse 41. But that’s small potatoes compared to everyone that was in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. There was no national conversion. The prophecy of Ezekiel 36 remains unfulfilled. It was never fulfilled in Acts 2. Ezekiel 36:24 says, “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from the lands and bring you into your own land, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean…I will…put a new spirit within you.” I’ve been in churches where the preacher is preaching through Ezekiel 37, the valley of the dry bones. The restoration of the bones and how the bones form a body and breath comes into the body. And the pastor will say, this was fulfilled in Acts 2. And I would always say to myself, I wish he would read verse 11. Because verse 11 of Ezekiel 37 says, These bones are the whole house of Israel.
Acts 2 was great. I mean, it was wonderful what God did here, but it was no fulfillment of Ezekiel 36 or 37 because there was no national conversion in Ezekiel 36 or 37, as evidenced by the fact that the whole nation was swept out of its land through violent judgment in AD 70, Charles Feinberg says of these Ezekiel passages, “When he stated that God will have mercy upon the whole House of Israel, He had in mind that all the previous restorations were partial…Now a universal and final restoration will take place.” So don’t confuse these events with the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecies. Ezekiel’s prophecies remain unfulfilled today. They are yet future. And so you have the conviction of the people, verse 37. You have repentance and baptism, verses 38 and 39. You have the consequences. The consequence of repentance. There in verse 40, they’re told to get out of dodge and be saved from this perverse generation. But then there’s the result of the conversion where 3000 people are saved, which is quite a group. But it was no national conversion.
I said we were going to make it through 39 through 41 tonight. We were close. We made it through two verses at least. And so we’ll pick it up with verse 41 next time