Sermon 2586. A Far-reaching Promise

(No. 2586)




"For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."Acts 2:39.

WE learn from the text a fact worth remembering, namely, that in the first stage of the Christian ministry, the thing to beaimed at is that men should be pricked in the heart. Then, in the second stage, the thing to be desired is that they shouldgladly receive the Word of God. Notice what is said in the 37th verse-"When they heard this, they were pricked in their heart."Then in the 41st verse-"Then they that gladly received his word were baptized." Hence, in the beginning, the preacher's businessis not to convert men, but the very reverse! It is idle to attempt to heal those who are not wounded, to attempt to clothethose who have never been stripped and to make those rich who have never realized their poverty. As long as the world stands,we shall need the Holy Spirit, not only as the Comforter, but also as the Convincer, who will "reprove the world of sin, andof righteousness, and ofjudgment."

I am inclined to think that the large number of backsliders who, after they have professed to be converted, turn back to theworld, may be accounted for by the fact that they never seriously felt their guilt and were never brought low by the workof the Holy Spirit convicting them of sin. Give me the old-fashioned form of conversion in which our fathers rejoice. I havelived long enough to see people jump into what they call salvation, and jump out of it as men plunge into a cold bath whenthey get up in the morning! Here is a person with a diseased leg. The doctor has looked at the limb, but he has not used hisknife, he has not cut out the proud flesh-but he has applied a liniment and an ointment-and he has made a wonderful cure!Marvelous are the healing powers of the clever man. According to common reports he is in high repute everywhere around. Yes,so he may be, but that limb will never be right again-the surgeon has done a permanent injury to it under the pretense ofhaving rendered its owner a great service. I believe that some men who are said to have been converted many times need tobe converted now-and that multitudes of those who are trumpeted forth as having found the Savior do not yet know why theyneed a Savior and have notreally found Him-but have exercised presumption in the place of faith and a belief in their ownexcited feelings instead of in the Lord Jesus Christ!

It must be so, I am sure, because we constantly see, on all hands, men who have been washed into deeper stains and who areworse after their so-called conversion than they were before. There must be, dear Friends, a probing of men's hearts withthe Law of God before we can rightly bring to them the healing of the Gospel. Old Robbie Flockhart's simile was a good one.He said, "You may take a piece of silk thread and try to sew with it as long as you like, but you will do nothing with it,alone-you need a sharp, piercing needle to go, first, and that will draw the silken thread after it. The needle of the Lawof God prepares the way for the thread of the Gospel." There must be birth-pangs, or there will be no child born. The old-fashionedGrace of repentance is not to be dispensed with-there must be sorrow for sin-there must be "a broken and a contrite heart."This, God will not despise. But a "conversion" which does not produce this result, God will not accept as genuine.

So we shall still continue to preach the Law of God. We shall thunder out the terrors of the Lord. We shall not be fashionableand popular, and prophesy smooth things lest our labor should be declared to have been in vain when the Lord shall come. Icharge all Brothers who are anxious for the true conversion of sinners, to be sometimes a little backward in dealing out comfortto them. Wait till you see that it is really needed! Wait till you perceive that there is a wound before you apply the healingbalm. Until people are willing to confess their sins, you have no ground upon which you can comfort them. It is the man who"confesses and forsakes them" who "shall have mercy." Christ is a sinner's Savior and if a man is not a sinner, Christ hasno salvation for him. Until he will take the sinner's place and frankly acknowledge his guilt, what is the use of preachingto him? Remember Christ's own words-"They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to callthe righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Now I am going to try to preach as wide, plain and open a Gospel as I can, but I have no hope of its being accepted by anybodyunless, first of all, he has been pricked in the heart. I am persuaded that even the wondrous illimitable liberality of Godis a thing which is despised by men until they have a sense of their need of His bounty. When that sense of need is workedwithin them by the Holy Spirit, then they leap at the very sound of the Gospel! But until then, their heart is gross, theirears are dull of hearing and they care not for the Free Grace of God.

Now let us come to our text-"For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as manyas the Lord our God shall call."

I. First, notice that the promise which God has made to man in Christ Jesus is A PROMISE WHICH EXACTLY MEETS THE NEED OF MANKIND.What is that promise?

First, it is the promise of the Holy Spirit The Apostle Peter quoted from the Prophet Joel the promise which God had madethat in the latter days He would pour out of His Spirit upon all flesh. That Holy Spirit is one of man's most urgent needs.We are fallen, Brothers and Sisters-fallen through the agency of the evil spirit-and we need the help of the good Spirit thatwe may be raised again. Our nature is polluted at its very center! The old serpent has poured poison into the innermost fountainof our being and, therefore, we need that the Holy Spirit should come and pour life into us, renewing us in the spirit ofour mind. We need the Holy Spirit to illuminate us, for we are both blind and in the dark. We need the Holy Spirit to instructus, for, by nature, we are ignorance, itself, and it is His office to teach men. We need the Holy Spirit to soften our heart.Naturally, it is harder than the nether millstone, which is always the harder of the two, as it has to bear the grinding ofthe upper stone. We need the Holy Spirit to quicken us, for, by nature, we are dead in trespasses and sins, and to all goodthings callous and indifferent. Brothers and Sisters, we need the Holy Spirit that we should be regenerated, for it is written,"You must be born again," and we can only be born again, born from above, through the operation of the Spirit of God! Whenwe are born again, we still need the Holy Spirit that He may sanctify us, that He may preserve us, that He may perfect usand make us qualified to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light!

Therefore, Sinner, if you say, "I feel myself to be powerless, incapable, like one that is dead," let not that stand in yourway, for God gives the Holy Spirit on purpose to meet just such need as yours! Everything that is necessary to be done, whichyou cannot do, the Spirit of God will help you to do. And that which you can do, in a measure, but which you do very badlyand inefficiently, the Spirit of God is given to help you to do, for He helps our infirmity. There is no strength needed inyou, Sinner-He will be your strength! There is no good operation needed on your part-the Holy Spirit has come to work allyour works in you. He works in us to will and to do according to His own good pleasure and then we, in consequence, thereof,work out our own salvation with fear and trembling! If you will but believe in Christ, you need not come to Him with a newheart-here is the Spirit of God to give you that new heart. You need not strive to make yourself tender and humble in spirit-hereis the Spirit of God to make you tender and humble. There is nothing that you need endeavor to produce in yourself, for thisDivine Being, who brooded over chaos and brought order out of primeval confusion, is ready to come and brood over you-overyour dark, disordered, chaotic soul! He can spread His clove-like wings over it till you shall come to light, and love, andlife, and liberty, and joy! Oh, is not this a mercy that inasmuch as we are so weak and helpless, the promise of God is thatHe will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?

But this is not all that a man needs in order that he may be saved. He needs, secondly, the remission of his sin and thereis a promise that God will give to the penitent the remission of their sins. Hence Peter said, "Repent, and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Hearken,guilty One, there is remission of sin even for you! You who have lain soaking in sin till you are crimsoned with it, tillyour sin is ingrained into your very nature, there is power with God to make that crimson white as snow, for, "all mannerof sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men." Whenever I repeat those gracious words of our

Lord, I feel as if I had said something far more sweet than the choicest poetry, something infinitely more deserving to bewritten in letters of gold than all the sayings of the wisest philosophers of old! Tell the guilty man that God has mercyreserved for him and is prepared to forgive him-what better news can he ever hear? Tell him that it is not true, as some say,that everything we have ever done must necessarily remain upon us, to injure and to hurt us in this life and in the next,as long as we have any being-it is not so, there is a remedy provided by God for the disease of sin! Yes, God can remove thevery scars which that disease has left behind when it is healed! Sin can be perfectly forgiven and forever put away. Rememberthe Lord's declaration: "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, as a cloud, your sins."

Now, when a cloud is gone, the sky is none the darker, it is just as blue as it was before that cloud was formed. Anotheremblem of God's Grace is that when He has washed us, we shall be whiter than snow. Snow, when it first falls, bears no traceof ever having been stained, it is so perfectly white. And God can wash you, poor Sinner, though you are guiltiest of theguilty, till not a speck of sin remains. "You are clean every whit," said Christ to His disciples. Oh, what a word was that,and it is true of all who trust Jesus! Being cleansed in His blood, no trace of sin remains!

Now put those two things together-the Holy Spirit working in us a change of heart and Jesus Christ working for us and preparingpardon for sin-and in those two things you have the supply of man's great need, which, put in a word, is salvation. In verse21 you can see the promise about that matter-"Whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." He shall be saved-thatis, perfectly and completely saved both from the guilt of sin and from the power of sin! He shall not be half-saved, or savedin one particular form of salvation, but he shall be saved. Whoever, then, repenting, trusts in Christ and confesses his faithaccording to Christ's own rule, shall be saved! "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." This is the glorious promisewhich, in its wide sweep, comprises all that a sinner needs-the Holy Spirit, the remission of sin and salvation!

II. Now, secondly, let us enquire-TO WHOM IS THIS PROMISE MADE? According to my text, "the promise is unto you, and to yourchildren, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."

I never like to accuse my Brothers of being tricky, but have you ever heard this text quoted as far as this, "For the promiseis unto you, and to your children"? And then a full stop is put in, to prove not that an infant ought to be baptized, butthat an infant ought to be sprinkled? The argument used by many ministers is that the blessings of the Covenant are for Believersand their children-and some of you may sometimes have thought that the argument is rather difficult to answer. I do not liketo think that there has been any dishonesty in such a matter, still, one cannot approve of a Brother chopping a text off inthe middle like that and trying to make it say exactly the opposite of what it really says!

Instead of this passage teaching that there is some special blessing for Christian people and their children, it teaches nothingof the sort! Peter declares that there is no limit of that kind to the range of this promise. Listen-"The promise is untoyou, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Suppose that I wereto try and argue thus-"The promise is unto you, and to your children, therefore your children ought to be baptized." Go onwith the text-"and to all that are afar off," therefore all that are afar off ought to be baptized. That would be the samekind of reasoning, but it would be the drivel of an idiot, with no reasoning in it! But the passage, instead of speaking ofanything being a privilege to certain people and their children, expressly declares that while it is their privilege, andtheir children's privilege, it is equally the privilege of all that are afar off-"as many as the Lord our God shall call."That is to say, that great Covenant promise, "Whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved," is meant for you,is meant for your children, is meant for Hottentots, is meant for Hindus, is meant for Greenlanders, is meant for everybodyto whom the Lord's call is addressed!

Our commission is, "Go you into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shallbe saved; but he that believes not shall be damned." There is not any person in this place who does not come within the sweepof my text! The promise is to you if you are a Jew! It is to you if you are the child of a Jew, or if you are the child ofa godly man-but it is also to you if you are afar off! If any are afar off because of sin, having gone into the far countryaway from God, or if they are afar off, literally, living in distant foreign lands, to them is the word of this salvationsent! The promise is for all to whom the message comes and, in its innermost and special sense, it is for all whom God shalleffectually call by His Spirit, whether they are Jews or Gentiles, bond or free! That is the very glory of the text and uponthat I want to reflect while I pass on to the next point.

III. That next point is this. Inasmuch as everything that a sinner needs for his salvation is made a matter of promise, andthat promise is made to all that hear the Gospel, then, Brothers and Sisters, THIS IS A CAUSE FOR VERY GREAT


I hope that I am addressing some who are pierced in the heart and who, therefore, want to find Christ. Well, see what a promiseyou have to come upon! And many have come to the Lord with far less encouragement When Jonah went to Nineveh, to utter hismournful and monotonous message, "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown," the king believed it and his people believedit-and they humbled themselves before God. Yet what had they to go upon? Only this, "Who can tell?" They said, "Who can tellif God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?" So they came to God with no other encouragementbut, "Who can tell?" Take heed, you who hear the Gospel, that the men of Nineveh do not rise up in judgment against you tocondemn you!

Take another case. There was the prodigal who came back to his father. Had he any promise from his father that he would receivehim? No, nothing of the sort. It was only the prodigal's belief in his father's goodness that brought him back and his fatherdid receive him. Take another case, that of the importunate widow who went to the judge, crying, "Avenge me of my adversary."Had she a promise that the judge would relieve her? Not at all! He was one who feared not God, nor regarded man-yet she kepton pleading with him and, though he even told her, no, perhaps scores of times, yet she pressed on with her suit till, atlast, her importunity won the case!

Now see what vantage ground you stand upon compared with these people. You do not go to God with the question, "Who can tell?"You do not come to God merely with an inference drawn from the kindness of His Nature. You do not come to God merely persuadedthat He will hear importunate prayer. But if you come to Him, you come with a promise, for, "the promise is unto you, andto your children, and to all that are afar off." And this is the promise-"Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shallbe saved." Oh, I think you ought to come to God with joy on your face, for with such a sweet promise as this, you must, youshall prevail!

The second encouragement is that God is always true. It would be a dreadful supposition to imagine that God could lie. Infact, that would be sheer blasphemy! If a man is a righteous man and he makes a promise, he will keep it if he can. A goodman "swears to his own hurt and changes not." Much more is the good God faithful to every promise He has ever made. "Has Hesaid, and shall He not do it?" Then, if God has promised that whoever believes in His Son shall be saved, you may be surethat he will be! And whoever you may be, if you believe in Christ, you must be saved. "Lord, I know that You cannot lie."You may plead in that fashion with Him. Take His promise in your hand and say to him, "Do as You have said."-

"You have promised to forgive All who on Your Son believe."

Plead that promise and you shall find it certainly fulfilled, for God did never yet draw back from a promise which He hadmade-and He never will! Oh, how that ought to encourage you in prayer! "But," says one, "may I grasp that promise, 'Whoevershall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved'?" Of course you may! And if the devil says that you must not claim thatpromise, tell him that Peter said, "The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off." And as youare one of those that are a long way off Jerusalem-and, certainly, the British islands must have been esteemed very far offin Peter's day-then you are one of those to whom that promise has come! Plead it and you shall find that it will be fulfilledto you.

Further, take encouragement from the next point, which is that if God has made a promise, He certainly must be prepared tofulfill it I have known a great many very promising young men who never were performing young men. They promise to do thisand that, and the other-but they never do anything of the sort. I heard of one, the other day, who owed a great deal of money.He got the bill for the debt renewed and after that was done, he said to a friend, "Now that is all settled. How comfortablea fellow feels when he has no debts to trouble him!" He had not paid anything, he had not anything with which he could pay,he had only renewed his promise to pay-yet he felt perfectly content! Some people are willing to enter into any kind of promiseor bond, but it never seems to occur to them that they must fulfill the obligation into which they have entered. We put themdown as bad men and we do not want to trade with them-or associate with them!

But God never made a promise unless He was quite prepared to fulfill it. Men sometimes make promises because it is not convenient,or in their power to perform the promise at once, so they postpone its fulfillment. But when God makes a promise, He can fulfillit at once and He will always be ready to fulfill it whenever He is called upon to do so. Friends, if God has promised togive the Holy Spirit, He can do it! The Holy Spirit waits to descend into men's hearts. If God has promised to give the pardonof sin, He can do it. The ransom price is paid. The Atonement has been presented and accepted-

"There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel's veins."

It has not to be filled. The sacrifice is not to be found, or to be offered when found. "It is finished." Everything thatis required for your salvation is ready and I am sent to you to say, "Hungry souls that need a feast of mercy, the oxen andfatlings are killed! All things are ready, come to the supper." So that the Lord's promise ought to cheer you very much, sinceGod is ready at once to fulfill it.

Yet again, here is another word of good cheer to you. God has put salvation upon the footing of promise. Not on the footingof merit-not on the footing of purchase-not on the footing of anything you can do, but on the footing of, "He has promisedit." That is how the Covenant of Grace runs-"I will" and, "you shall." It is not, "You are to do this, to feel that and tobe the other." But it is, "A new heart, also, will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take awaythe stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause youto walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments, and do them." It is all promise, promise, promise, promise! Whenyou call on a man for money and he says to you, "On what ground do you ask for this sum?" and you say, "Why, Sir, becauseyou promised it," that is a good ground to go upon with one who is both able and willing to pay. If he said to you, "But Ineed to know whether you deserve this"-you are such an undeserving person that you would feel that you were out of court withhim. But when your answer is simply this, "Whatever I may be, is not the question. I come because you promised"-that makesgrand pleading! That is the way to be enriched with heavenly mercy, simply to say, "O Lord, You have promised Grace to allwho trust Your Son, and here I am -empty, naked, poor and undeserving-but I plead Your promise! For Your truth's sake, andfor Your mercy's sake, fulfill that promise unto me."

Is not all this encouraging? I do not say to you, "The law is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off."But I say, with Peter, "The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off." The word of promiseis preached to you-"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." "He that believes on Him is not condemned.""He that believes on the Son has everlasting life." Or, putting it in Peter's words: "Repent and be baptized every one ofyou, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Now observe, in conclusion, that no exception is possible in this case. Let me repeat that expression-no exception is possiblein this case. Addressing all the Jews who were gathered around him, Peter said, "The promise is unto you!" Looking forwardto all the future generations of Jews that were to be born, he added, "and to your children." And then, lifting up his eyesto the far-off Gentile world, looking in vision as far as "The Pillars of Hercules," and across "the silver streak" that separatesthese islands from the mainland-looking still further to Ireland as well and then to the great continent which Columbus afterwardsdiscovered, he seemed to see red men, black men, white men and brown men-men of every race and clime and age! And he includedthem all by saying, "and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Comprehending the vast populationof the whole globe, throughout all time, Peter says, "This promise is to you all, 'Whoever shall call on the name of the Lordshall be saved.'"

Therefore, that is a promise to me! Well do I recollect the time when I first laid hold of that Truth of God. I was in greatsorrow of soul, for I thought that there was no Gospel for me. But I caught a ray of hope from that blessed word, "whoever"-oh,how I love that word, "whoever"-"whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." And there was another cheeringmessage. "Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out." I read what John Bunyan said about that text-"What, 'him,' isthis? Why, it is any 'him that comes.' Any him, in all the world, that comes unto Christ, He will in no wise cast out." Perhapsyou know how the blessed dreamer goes on about the rest of that verse- "'He will in no wise cast out.' Lord, I am a big sinner!'I will in no wise cast out.' Lord, I have been a blasphemer! 'I will in no wise cast out.' Lord, I am an old sinner-I am80 years old! 'I will in no wise cast out.' Lord, I have been an adulterer. I have been a fornicator. I have been a thief.I have been a murderer! 'I will in no wise cast out.'" So he goes over, and over, and over, and over with it to show thatwhoever comes to Christ, He cannot possibly cast him out, for if He did, it would make Christ a liar and it would make a lieof hundreds of texts! "Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out."

Look, Sirs, look! It is not for God's honor to cast out a soul that comes to Him. Suppose that there should be cast out onesoul that came to Christ? Suppose that one sinner who trusted in Christ should perish? I know what men would do. They woulddirectly publish all round the world, "God has broken His Word! The Gospel has failed, for here is a soul lost that trustedin Christ!" You do not suppose God will allow that, do you? In imagination, I see that poor soul going down to Hell. He isno sooner there than the devil says to him, "Did you trust Christ?" "Yes, I did." "Did He refuse to save you?" "Yes, He did.""Do you mean to say that you fulfilled the Word of God, 'He that believes and is baptized'?" "Yes, I did." "And yet you arenot saved!" Oh, what a roar of laughter would go all round the Pit! How every fallen spirit, rising from his dungeon, wouldbegin with unhallowed glee to shout and yell! How through the deep compound of pandemonium, where evil reigns supreme, therewould go up their hisses and their hoots against a defeated Savior-against a conquered Christ-against a lying God-againstOne that said, and did not do, and that spoke, and was not true. "Aha, aha, Emmanuel, Diabolus has defeated You! Aha, aha,Jehovah, Your Word is forfeited!" Shall such a thing ever be? You shudder as I picture it. It never shall be! Heaven and earthshall pass away and, as a moment's foam dissolves into the wave that bears it, and is lost forever, so shall the universepass away, but never shall a sinner come and cast himself on Christ-and yet be allowed to perish! Try it, Sinner! Try it!Try it now! God help you to try it, and to prove that, still, Christ receives sinners and casts out none who trust Him! TheLord bless you, for His name's sake! Amen.


We cannot too often read the story of that wondrous outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. And let us neverread it without asking the Lord to manifest in our midst the fullness of the Spirit's power. We may not have a repetitionof the miraculous gifts which were then bestowed upon the Apostles and those who were with them, but we may have that graciousinfluence which shall convince and convert those who gather to hear the Word. Our success in preaching the Word is entirelydependent upon the Presence and working of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, let our prayer be-

"Lord God, the Holy Spirit,

In this accepted hour,

As on the day of Pentecost,

Descend in all Your power.

The young, the old inspire

With wisdom from above

And give us hearts and tongues of fire,

To pray, and praise, and love." Verses 1-13. And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord inone place. And suddenly there came a sound from Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where theywere sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were allfiled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwellingat Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under Heaven. Now when this was heard abroad, the multitude came together,and were confounded, because every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, sayingone to another, Behold, are not all these which speak, Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein wewere born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, andAsia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were indoubt, saying one to another, What does this mean? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. The people who cametogether were greatly astonished to find the disciples of Christ speaking to them in their own tongues. Though all the speakerswere Jews and naturally knew no tongue but their own, yet they were able to talk in divers languages. Therefore some of theirhearers, mocking, said, "These men are fall of new wine."

14-21. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, You men of Judaea, and all you thatdwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: for these are not drunken, as you suppose, seeing itis but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel-And it shall come to pass in the lastdays, says God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your youngmen shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in thosedays of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will show wonders in Heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood,and fire, and vapor of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notableday of the Lord comes: and it shall come to pass that whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. I did notdetain you to speak about the moon turned into blood, or the sun darkened into midnight-those matters are of small consequenceto you and to me compared with this sentence: "Whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." What a blesseddoor of hope is this! What a window, letting the light of Heaven shine into the darkest despondency! Whoever shall addresshimself to God by repentance, by faith, by prayer, shall be saved!

22, 23. You men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders andsigns,which God did by Him in the midst of you, asyou yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel andforeknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. This was bold talking, for Peter was doubtlessaddressing many of the very people who had put the Lord to death-and he charges them with it! Observe how he declares thatChrist's death was in accordance with "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God," yet he expressly says that, "bywicked hands" they had crucified and slain Him. It never occurred to Peter that the counsel of God deprived men of the responsibilityand guilt of their actions. No, neither need it ever occur to you! If anyone shall ask you, "When anything is according tothe foreknowledge and counsel of God, how can God blame the doer of it?" you may tell him that he has first to explain toyou what he means; and if he says there is a difficulty in it, ask him to tell you what the difficulty is. Those who knewbetter than the objector, could see none. The inspired Apostle Peter could see none, but when he was most vehement in chargingthese men with guilt, yet, at the same time he said that it was by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God! Surelyhe was a bad pleader to introduce into his argument anything that could be readily construed into an excuse for those he wasaccusing! But there is no real excuse in it-the free agency of man is as true as the predestination of God-the two Truthsstand fast forever! It is the folly of man to imagine that they disagree. If you do wrong, you are accountable for the wrong.And if there is a Providence which ordains everything-as certainly there is-yet that Providence takes not away from any manthe full responsibility for anything that he does. So, truly did Peter say to these Jews concerning Christ, "Him, being deliveredby the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain."

24-32. Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be held by it.ForDavid'speaks concerning Him, I foresaw the Lordalways before my face, for He is on my right hand, that I should not bemoved: therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: because You willnotleave my soul in Hades, neither will You suffer Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life;You shall make me full of joy with Your countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the Patriarch David,that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore being a Prophet, and knowing that Godhad sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit onhis throne; he seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in the abode of the dead,neither His flesh did see corruption. This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Here Peter appealed to theeleven, and to all the disciples then present who had seen Jesus after He had risen from the dead. It must have been a veryimpressive sight as they all stood up bearing witness that they had seen the Christ, who was crucified, alive after His death!It was a wonderful public attestation to that grandest of all facts-the raising again from the dead of Jesus of Nazareth,the Son of God!

33. Therefore being by thee right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, Hehas shed forth this, which you now see and hear. Was not that enough to convince them? They saw and they heard the proofsof the working of the Spirit among them-and Peter told them that "this" was the gift of Christ, who had ascended up on high.It must have been a very striking thing to have been there, and to have heard and seen these tokens of God setting His sealto the work of Jesus.

34-36. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he says himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit You on My right hand,until I make Your foes Your footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made that same Jesus,whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ. What a climax to Peter's sermon! How simple and yet how triumphant is the argument!We do not wonder that men were convinced by it.

37. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart. There is a great distinction between being cut to the heartand being pricked in the heart. Those who were cut to the heart stoned the preacher, but they who are pricked in the heartyield a sweet obedience to the will of God! "They were pricked in their heart."

37-40. And said unto Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 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 you shall receive thegift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar of, even as many as theLord our Godshall call. And with many other words didhe testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.Not, "save yourselves," but, "save yourselves from this untoward generation." Come out from among them! They are guilty ofthe death of Christ. You will be found guilty of it, too, unless you now disown the people who committed that awful crime!Come right out from among them and be altogether separated from them.

41, 42. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousandsouls. And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and feelowship, and in breakkng of bread, and in prayers.