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God’s Word for You

Acts 2:37-39 the promise is for you and for your children

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, September 4, 2019

37 Now when the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and asked Peter and the other apostles, “What should we do, sirs—brothers?”

Repentance is a change that takes place inside the heart. Part of repentance is fear of punishment and sorrow over sin, but another part is trust in God, faith in the promise of forgiveness for sins. The fear and sorrow are responses to the law of God. The faith and trust are the response and reaction to the gospel. What we see here in this verse is sorrow over sin and a desire to hear the gospel. The men who said this may not have known that it was the gospel that they were asking for. They may well have thought that there would be something for them to do, some satisfaction to be made or price to be paid. Their ignorance of the nature of God’s forgiveness does not lessen their repentance.

38 Peter answered 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. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Here Peter explains forgiveness with the gospel. Forgiveness comes straight from Christ. It includes the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of faith, and all this is the response of the sinner to the call of the Lord God. Here is the Triune God working, as always, in perfect concert for the same end: the salvation of sinners. Peter invites the new converts to be baptized. While they have heard the gospel with this very sentence, baptism will bring the same forgiveness to them with an outward act which is the means by which the grace of God enters into each sinner. “Baptism,” Peter says in another place, “now saves you. Not the removal of dirt from the body by the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand” (1 Peter 3:21-22).

Our Confession says: “Those who sin after baptism receive forgiveness of sin whenever they come to repentance, and absolution should not be denied them by the church. Properly speaking, true repentance is nothing else than to have contrition and sorrow or terror, on account of sin, and yet at the same time to believe the Gospel and absolution (namely, that sin has been forgiven and grace has been obtained through Christ), and this faith will comfort the heart and again set it at rest” (Augsburg Confession XII,1-5).

At this moment at Pentecost, we witness the conversion of these men to faith in Christ. Conversion takes place the moment a person trusts in Christ for the forgiveness of his sins. Peter’s words ring out beyond the temple, beyond Jerusalem, and beyond Judea to cover the whole earth. It also extends beyond many people’s expectations about who might possibly come to saving faith: “to you and your children, to all.” Forgiveness is not limited to a few, to a group, to a race, or even to a nation. Forgiveness is offered to all.

Notice that Peter includes “your children” (τέκνοις). Children are guilty of sin just as adults are (Romans 3:23). Children need forgiveness just as adults do. Children are not to be kept back from the means of grace. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14). Colossians 2:11-12 shows that baptism supplants and replaces the Old Testament covenant of Circumcision. Circumcision was for infants; baptism is for children and infants in particular. Why do we see so many adults being baptized in the New Testament? For the same reason we mostly see adults being circumcised in Moses; the rite had only just been instituted. The adults were circumcised first; then their children (Genesis 21:4).

Cherish your faith. Baptism was the means through which faith and forgiveness came to you, and to all whom the Lord our God will call.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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