Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…
The crowd, convinced of sin and fearful of its consequences, cried out in an agony of remorse and despair, "What shall we do?" Meaning, of course, what the jailer meant in the full evangelical question. They wanted to know how they should escape the penalty incurred. Very full is this condensed reply of Peter's. The whole gospel of man's salvation is included in it. No director of a stricken and bewildered conscience can improve upon it.
I. THE NATURE OF SALVATION.
1. Remission of sins. Sin had run them into danger; continuance in sin would involve them in ruin. The first thing, therefore, was that sin should be remitted. When a disease breaks out it exposes its victims to a possible or probable death. To check its ravages does not mean absolutely health; but there is no averting that fatality until the progress of the disease receives a check. In our case sin exposes us to punishment on account of its guilt; to death because of its power. To forgive the guilt and to counterwork the power is therefore the first requirement. It is not full salvation, but it is necessary to it.
2. The gift of the Holy Ghost. This is the positive side of that which remission is the negative side, and completes the idea of salvation. To receive the Spirit is for the sick soul to be restored to full 'health; it is to lay ourselves open to His gracious work, which is
(1) Regeneration, the gift of a new nature.
(2) Adoption, translation into the Divine family and acceptance in the Beloved.
(3) The witness to our sonship.
(4) Progressive sanctification.
(5) The earnest of all the glory and the joy of heaven.
II. THE MEANS OF OBTAINING SALVATION.
1. Repentance. Change of mind about sin, self, holiness, and God, with endeavours after a corresponding change in the life and conduct. This will involve a hatred of sin, a true measurement of our own weakness and unworthiness, an endeavour after holiness, a desire after God as the supreme good.
2. Baptism. Here the rite was a symbol —
(1) Of trust in Christ. "In the name of Jesus Christ."
(2) Of the purity to which the Christian is pledged.
(3) Of confession of Christ before men.
(4) Of separation from the old life of the world, and consecration to Christ.These conditions are as inexorable to-day as they were then. All that the baptism we have already enjoyed in infancy means is obligatory on every baptized man. Our baptism is vain and our salvation non-existent unless "the life we live in the flesh be by the faith of the Son of God"; unless our lives are pure, unless our confession of Christ be unmistakable, and unless we are fully consecrated to our Master's service. Conclusion:
1. How simple the conditions on which God grants His greatest boon.
2. How essential that we should comply with them before the gift is withdrawn.
(J. W. Burn.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.