As Many as He Calls
After completing his sermon, Peter summoned his audience to repent and be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ.” However, something more than just a call to accept the Gospel was transpiring in the passage. He concluded his sermon on a note of fulfillment and with a foretaste of things to come. It began with a citation from the Book of Joel, and it finished with a clause from the same passage, thus neatly bracketing the message.
What began on the Day of Pentecost was the commencement of the era of fulfillment that must continue until the consummation of all things on the “Day of the LORD.” What the crowd of pilgrims “saw and heard” was none other than the promised outpouring of the Spirit “in the last days” as prophesied by Joel.
|[Photo by Ken Cheung on Unsplash]
With the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus, the “Last Days” began in earnest. The Gift of the Spirit was granted to his people, starting with the young Assembly in Jerusalem, but certainly not ending there - (Joel 2:28-32).
Considering the events in Jerusalem, the “Day of the LORD” was more imminent than ever, therefore, everyone who heard Peter’s words needed to repent while the opportunity remained, even “as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
- (Acts 2:37-38) - “… Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to him.”
The “promise” was the “Gift of the Spirit” foretold in the Hebrew Bible, and by Jesus before his Ascension when he commanded his disciples to “tarry in Jerusalem” until they were endued with power from on high, the “Promise of the Father.”
John baptized “in water,” but the “Coming one” would baptize “in the Holy Spirit.” Afterward, his followers would become his witnesses and take the Gospel to the “uttermost parts of the Earth” - (Acts 1:4-5, Luke 3:16, 24:49).
The setting of Peter’s sermon must be kept in mind. The sights and sounds that accompanied the Spirit’s outpouring caused confusion among the pilgrims gathered at the Temple, “Jews and proselytes” from at least fifteen nations.
As the editor of Acts, Luke does not list these nations simply for literary effect, but to make a theological point. The bestowal of the Spirit marked the start of the mission to announce the Kingdom of God to all nations (“Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven”).
The covenant of Abraham always envisioned a people consisting of more than just his biological descendants. At one point, Yahweh showed the Patriarch the stars of heaven and challenged him to number them if he could. So would be the number of his “seed” - (Genesis 15:5, 17:4-6).
However, his physical descendants failed to keep to the covenant. That did not mean God had rejected Israel. On the contrary, to facilitate their redemption, He promised to provide a New Covenant relationship that included the Gift of His Spirit.
The day would come when God would “gather you from among the nations and bring you into your own land,” and He would put a “new Spirit within you… And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes” - (Ezekiel 36:24-27).
The fulfillment of the promise began on the Day of Pentecost, not only with the outpouring of the Spirit but also with the addition of three thousand converts from among the Jewish pilgrims.
That was only the beginning since the “promise” was “to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to him.” The proclamation of the Gospel began in Jerusalem, but the Book of Acts presents it progressing from there to “Judea, Samaria,” and even to Rome, the heart of the World Empire.
At the end of Acts, we find the Apostle Paul in Rome under house arrest. Nevertheless, despite his circumstances, he “received all that went to him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness,” both to Jews and Gentiles alike - (Acts 28:30-31).
|[Photo by Ken Cheung on Unsplash]
Thus, the Gift of the Spirit and the proclamation of the “Good News” do not represent the reversal or rejection of the covenant promises made to Abraham, but their fulfillment. What began on the Day of Pentecost was only the first stage in taking the Good News of God’s Kingdom “to the uttermost parts of the Earth.”
The “Promise of the Father” was and is for “you and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” The summons to repent and receive the Spirit is made to all men and women until the arrival of the “Day of the Lord” and the return of Jesus.
- To the Ends of the Earth - (The Gospel of the Kingdom announced by Jesus offers salvation and life to all men and women of every nation and people)
- The Mission - (The mission of the church between now and Christ’s return is to announce the Good News of his Kingdom to all nations – Matthew 24:14)
- Spirit and Mission - (Jesus now dispenses the gift of the Spirit to his people, and it empowers them to carry out gospel proclamation to all nations)