Jesus told the remaining eleven apostles in Acts to take the Gospel to Jerusalem, to all Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth when the Holy Spirit came upon them. The Holy Spirit did come, as recorded in Acts 2. After Jesus gave them these instructions, He was taken up to Heaven while they looked on. They then returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Prior to Pentecost, Peter addressed a crowd of about 120 of Jesus’ followers to say they needed to replace Judas Iscariot. I personally believe that this is another of Peter’s “jumping the gun” moments, and they should have waited. Jesus already had a man chosen to replace Judas, who would arrive on the scene in Acts 7:58.
My reasons for this are:
- This is typical Peter.
- They had not received the Holy Spirit at this time and were not in His will.
- Jesus chose each and every apostle and was quite capable of choosing the replacement for Judas.
- Who will be an apostle is Jesus’ call, not theirs. They were usurping His authority.
- Jesus chose Paul to replace Judas: Acts 9:15; Galatians 1:15-17.
- Matthias is never heard from again.
- Just because it is stated they chose Matthias to replace Judas doesn’t make it so.
When speaking of the Gospel, some feel that the Gospel of salvation by grace alone can only be found in Paul’s letters. This just isn’t true. Salvation has always been by grace alone whether we’re reading the Old Testament, the Gospels, Acts, Hebrews, or the letters of John, James, or Jude. The only ‘work’ ever included and accepted in the doctrine of salvation has always been the work of Jesus on our behalf. From Adam and Eve to today’s generations, salvation has always been by grace, not works.
So, my point is, can we use the book of Acts to share the Gospel? Absolutely! The most familiar verse in Acts is probably Acts 16:31 which says, “So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’” Can we use any passages prior to chapter 16? We certainly can.
God has dealt with mankind through different methods, but always through grace, in other words, different dispensations. We are currently in what is called the age of grace (although it’s always been about grace) or the church age.
Some believers, as I mentioned earlier, believe that we can only use Paul’s letters for the true Gospel of grace. For example, they believe that the Church did not begin at Pentecost and there is no need for water baptism. Let me be very clear about water baptism. Water baptism is important, and every new believer should be baptized (immersed in water), if at all possible, but it CANNOT, WILL NOT, AND HAS NEVER saved anyone. If you recall, the thief on the cross, that became a believer in the Lord, was in no position to be baptized.
The following article from gotquestions.org will be very helpful in understanding what I’m saying. What is mid-Acts dispensationalism? What is the Grace Movement, and is it biblical? | GotQuestions.org
The last sentence of the article from gotquestions.org states, “While we disagree with them on water baptism, the role of the law before the church age, and the exact start of the church age, we consider mid-Acts dispensationalists to be our brothers and sisters in Christ.” I feel the same. Though we may disagree, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Assuming you read the article from gotquestions.org, I would like for us to walk through several passages of Scripture in the book of Acts and see firsthand that the doctrine of salvation by grace alone is alive and well in this wonderful book written by Luke.
While we use Ephesians 2:8-9 as a guide, let’s take a look at several passages in the book of Acts to see if they follow the same teaching.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
Peter quotes a prophecy for the last days taken from Joel 2:28-32. What they were experiencing at Pentecost was a sampling of the fulfilling of this passage in the Tribulation. To call on the name of the Lord is certainly not inconsistent with Ephesians 2:8-9.
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Acts 2:21, 4:12, and 5:31-32 are all clear that salvation is through Jesus Christ, so again, there is no disagreement with Ephesians 2:8-9. Also, if you will read John 14:6, you’ll see that God makes this clear through another apostle (John) that Jesus is who we call upon to be saved, and there is no other way.
Acts 3:19; 17:30; 20:21
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
This is stated in Peter’s second sermon to his Jewish brethren. Some may say this isn’t for the Church, that repentance is for Israel (think John the Baptist) and faith alone is for Israel.
What does ‘repent’ and ‘converted’ mean? Repent simply means to change your mind, and to be converted is to change directions. In other words, “change your mind and go to Jesus.” Isn’t this what God demands of all mankind to be saved?
Israelite or Gentile, we must all change our mind about what we believe and go to Jesus, i.e., repent and be converted. Again, this is totally consistent with Ephesians 2:8-9.
Acts 10:43; 11:17; 13:38-39; 15:7-9; 16:31; 18:8
“To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).
To be born again, I must believe in Jesus, that He died for me, was buried for me, and rose from the grave for me. He is the only way I can spend eternity with God in Heaven, so I will follow Him.
“Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8).
I also included this verse because of the last five words, “hearing, believed, and were baptized.”
Hearing: If we are not willing to listen, we will never know how to be saved.
Believed: Without belief in Jesus as our Savior, we will never be saved.
Were baptized: The Corinthians referred to in this passage were baptized AFTER they believed and were saved. Water baptism is important, but it cannot save anyone.
Acts 14:15; 26:18
“and saying, ‘Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them’” (Acts 14:15).
“to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18).
Notice that Acts 14:15 emphasizes that we “turn from these useless things to a living God” and that Acts 26:18 emphasizes that we turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.
We must turn FROM these things TO God. This is repentance and being converted. We change our mind about what is keeping us from Christ and instead turn to Him.
Acts 14:27; 20:21
“Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).
The book of Acts is for both the Jews and also to the Greeks (Gentiles). The message is the same for all and has never changed. Salvation has always been by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Pre-Rapture Commentary: http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com
Rapture Ready: http://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html