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What Shall We Do? Acts 2:37-47


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Acts 2:37-47

When Peter was drawing his message to a close, he said in v.36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”   And v.37  Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart…(stop here).

Did Peter come off somewhat harsh and unkind?    Shouldn’t he have used some friendlier terms in his concluding statement?     These people were “cut to the heart”.  Spiritually, they were “stabbed in the heart”

Today, some would say that’s too much.   They would say such preaching that overwhelms people to the point where they are “cut to the heart” is insensitive and truly offensive.  They would rephrase v.36 to say  “let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has offered you Jesus as your Life Coach,  and know for certain that this Jesus has a Wonderful Plan for Your life.” 

God has made Jesus to be both Lord and Christ.  He is not your Life Coach, and He is not your Co-Pilot.   God is not saying, “I have a wonderful plan for your life”.  He is saying  “You are guilty.  You crucified this Jesus whom God has made both Lord and Christ.    There is no soft peddling the truth by the Apostle Peter.  He is bold to declare God’s Word.

The results is  they were “cut to the heart”.   They were convicted of their sin.  What was their sin?  The greatest sin imaginable -  they were participants in handing over Jesus to be crucified.   Days earlier this crowd screamed for Jesus’ crucifixion.   Crucifying the Lord of Glory is the most wicked deed ever carried out.

I.           We must be under conviction.

The people were convicted in the heart by the message.  


The people who heard Peter’s sermon were convicted by the Holy Spirit and they were at an end of what to do.   That’s why they asked,  WHAT SHALL WE DO?

They were  “cut to the heart”,  pricked in their hearts.   The Greek word used here means “to be thoroughly pierced through”

AND this PIERCING…..this  pricking of their hearts  CAME after they heard the message.

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart



This is the power of God’s Word. 

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.    Hebrews 4:12

the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  (Ephesians 6:17)

Three things are mentioned:

1.    The Word of God

2.    The Spirit of God

3.    The Man of God

The Holy Spirit uses the sword, or the Word of God proclaimed by the Man of God to bring conviction upon those who listen.    The Power is in the Word.   It’s in the Gospel Message.  

Romans 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

There’s no need to rely upon techniques of the flesh to produce decisions.  Or psychological pressure to coerce someone to repeat a prayer.  Our business is not to worry about the results. Our business is to clearly be a witness and leave the results to God.   Holy Spirit conviction will come when we exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is what Peter does.  He preaches Christ whom they crucified, and was raised up by God. He preaches Christ who ascended back to Heaven and sits at the right hand of God. He preaches Christ who sent back the Holy Spirit.  The whole sermon is Christ-centered.

The power is in the gospel.    It’s not in the messenger.  It’s not in some smart method of presenting the message.  The Power of God that brings conviction is in the Gospel of Christ.   It is the Gospel of Christ that the Holy Spirit will use to do the work of convicting the lost.  

John 16:8-11

 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

The Holy Spirit will convict the world.   There are three areas in which the Holy Spirit will bring conviction.

(1)         Sin -  Why sin?    Why does the Holy Spirit use God’s Word to bring conviction upon the lost concerning sin?    The answer is this – because they do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.  That’s what Jesus said,  “because they do not believe in me”     The greatest sin is to reject Christ.  It doesn’t matter how good a person may claim to be.  It doesn’t matter what good deeds they have done for others. It doesn’t matter what outstanding contribution they have given to benefit others.  If they refuse to believe in Christ, they are guilty of the most heinous of crimes.  It’s impossible by one’s own personal goodness to overturn the sin of refusing Christ.    This is the sin that declares the sinner guilty before a holy God.

(2)         Concerning righteousness –  The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sinners that they are not righteous.  Jesus said the Holy Spirit will do this “because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer.”     Jesus said “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  (John 9:5)    It is this light that the world has a problem with.    And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (John 3:19)    Jesus presence bothers a world of sinners.  His presence declares to them that they are not righteous.  Jesus goes to the Father, and the disciples would see him no longer,  the Holy Spirit brings that same conviction that the sinner does not have the Righteousness that God will accept.    When the Gospel is preached the Holy Spirit says to the lost,  they are guilty of sin;  they have no righteousness that’s acceptable to God.  They are not a good person because there’s none good, no not one.  There’s only one Righteous Person and He is the Lord Jesus Christ.

(3)         Concerning judgment - because the ruler of this world is judged.  The ruler of this world is Satan.  Satan and all who are under his rule are under the judgment of God.    Many people live with a false sense of security that they are protected from the judgment of God.   The Holy Spirit uses God’s Word to bear upon their hearts that they are already judged “guilty”.


Peter’s sermon was used by God to bring people to the place of Holy Spirit conviction. That’s what we must do.  We must witness to others and pray that the Spirit of God will bring conviction and change hearts. This is a great need today.   We can’t do bypass surgery and neglect the heart itself.    Some may bypass the matter of sin altogether and say “just believe”.    It’s interesting how often the world will use the word “believe” and what they are saying is the need to think positive thoughts and just believe.  There’s a popular song entitled “Believe” that came out in 2014 as the theme for a well-known animated Christmas movie:  The lyrics say…

Believe in what your heart is saying. Believe in what you feel inside.  You have everything you need if you just believe.

The song ends,  just believe,  just believe”. 

Believe in what?    Believe in what your heart is saying?   Believe in what you feel inside?      

Can you trust the unregenerate,  unredeemed  heart?   Can you trust your feelings?  Your gut feelings?   Can you trust your own thinking?

The world says,   there’s goodness in the human heart.   The Bible says differently.

The Bible says, the heart is desperately wicked.

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?  (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV)


That brings us to the next part.   Conversion.


They said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


ACTS 16:30    Philippian jailor -  What must I do to be saved?

If there’s no conviction of sin;  of lostness;  of guilt,  then there’s no true conversion.


II.        We Must Be Converted.

A.    Man’s Part

(1)        Repentance

(a) Definition: -  biblical repentance -  a change of mind – that results in a change of actions.

 Peter is saying you must have a change of mind.   ABOUT WHAT?     See v.36 “Lord and Christ”      What you formerly believed about Jesus was wrong!

The People repented.    That is,   they had a change of mind about Jesus and now they came to believe, or have faith in Jesus as both Savior and Lord.    Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin.  Biblical repentance and faith go together.

Repentance -  moving FROM  Rejection of Christ -  to  ACCEPTANCE and coming to FAITH in Christ.

·         That rejection may be  out right   willful rejection….

·         That rejection may be  out of  IGNORANCE…..look at   Acts 3:17-19

·         Rejection may take the form of  OUT RIGHT   WILLFUL REJECTION;    OR PLAIN IGNORANCE;  OR  JUST simply   totally     disinterested !

Change of MIND about Jesus Christ ------ moving from rejection to faith in Christ.

Turning from sin =  is not the definition for Repentance,  turning from sin is the results of repentance……REPENTANCE IS A CHANGE OF MIND THAT RESULTS IN A CHANGE OF ACTIONS.

If any man be in Christ,  he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new…  2Cor. 5:17

(b) Work of Grace -   repentance is NOT a human work….   ACTS 5:31  “give repentance”

2Timothy 2:25    God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth

John 6:44    No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.

Repentance and faith are gifts from God.    WE must pray that God will give repentance to those who are lost.  We must witness to them and pray as they hear God’s Message, God will produce repentance in their hearts.

Acts 11:18

When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”


(2)        Be baptized every one of you                          v.38

We need to spend some time on this  because there is much misunderstanding about baptism.

Repentance is NECESSARY for a person to be saved.    What about “baptism”?

It says it is….  Read v.38

To received forgiveness of your sins,  and received the gift of the Holy Spirit….

That’s what it says,   but is that what it teaches?

John 20:31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

98 times John uses the word believe to show that salvation is by faith alone -   never uses baptism as necessary for salvation.

Apostle Paul does not say baptism is necessary for salvation…

1Cor. 15:1-2    Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain...

1Cor 1:17  For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

If baptism was NECESSARY for salvation,  then Paul would have included that.

1Cor. 1:14   I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,

household of Stephanas

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 Make disciples  FIRST =    then you baptize them…    See them come to Christ FIRST…..then baptize them…   and then TEACH Them…


Why did Peter include baptism?    Because that’s part of the Great Commission…  It’s not the necessary part that gets you saved;  it’s the necessary part of the life of obedience.   You’re not baptized to GET saved;   you’re baptized because you ARE saved.

I think Peter included baptism to show that their repentance was for real.    Repentance and faith is the inner working  in the heart;   and Baptism is the OUTWARD demonstration of that Inner work of God.

If baptism in water is mandatory to one’s salvation, then Jesus would have told the thief on the cross who asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom….that it’s impossible now for him to be saved because he had no way of getting baptized in water.

If you are struggling with this, or have family and friends who actually believe that baptism in water is mandatory for a person to be saved,  then I have an article that goes into more detail.

Let me show you another place where people are getting saved,  and they are baptized after salvation.


Peter goes to the house of Cornelius.  He preaches the gospel.  They are opened to hear Peter’s message. Peter did not have to give an invitation, their hearts were opened, and they received the truth and they received Christ.

Acts 10:43-48

43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”   (that’s all it took….  Holy Spirit did the rest…..)

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

B.   God’s Part

Really the repenting by the sinner is the initiative of God….   see v.39  “whom the Lord our God calls to himself”

(1) The Forgiveness of your sins  v.38

(2) Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit



III.     We Must Continue.


A.         Peter continued      v.40  continued to exhort them

Peter kept speaking….at some point they repented……  and at some point they were baptized……..but one thing is for sure…Peter did not baptize them to get them saved.    How do we know?

Because it  is said in v.41--- those who received his word were baptized = 3000

TEACHES us ---  not enough to give them the minium information of the gospel…continue to teach them…..Matthew 28 teach them whatsoever I have commanded you….


B.         Believers continued

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

John 8:31-32

31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.


The evidence of true repentance and faith……………continuation….


What shall we do?


Baptized  (upon repenting….receiving the Word…upon coming to Christ in Faith…)

Save yourself     (not saving grace…)   you can save yourself a lot of heartaches….by not following this untoward generation….that means  it is NOT TOWARD GOD….IT IS UNTOWARD…IT’S CROOKED.

Continue in Apostle’s doctrine

Continue with Fellowship 

Breaking of bread -  Lord’s Table   “do this in rememberance of me”



Worship   “praising God”


Left the results to God  “The Lord added”     just be faithful….  Keep on praying,  keep on witnessing, keep on teaching,   keep on giving,   keep on encouraging one another in fellowship…

Keep on exhorting one another

Encouraging one another…

The Lord  added to their number day by day those who were being saved.




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