Sermon Study - Acts 2:37-41
“Pentecost: What Shall We Do?” from Acts 2:37-41. You can listen to the sermon here.
In these verses, Luke gives us the response to Peter’s preaching. And as you heard from the reading, the response is nothing short of amazing – 3,000 people believe Peter’s message, are baptized, and then added to the church. That’s an incredible response! Talk about church growth!
But is that the main point? Should we read this text and conclude that if we can just get the right mix of power and preaching, we too could see 3,000 saved and brought into the church? I don’t think that’s the conclusion Luke wants us to draw. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that God can’t move with power and save large numbers of people. I’m not saying it is wrong to pray for the Spirit to use our proclamation of Christ to bring in a great harvest of souls. I’m not saying those things. In fact, of all people, we should be the ones who pray most fervently and consistently for the Sovereign God of Heaven to bring in those who belong to King Jesus. So, I’m not saying anything negative. What I am saying is that if we only focus on the incredible increase, then we miss so much from this text. There is more here than the numerical growth of the church.
At the heart of this passage are three truths that remind us of the hope of the gospel. We see in these verses salvation by faith not works, full forgiveness of sin, and a God who calls people to himself. All of those truths – faith not works, forgiveness, and a God who calls – remind us of the hope there is in the gospel. So, ultimately, Acts 2.37-41 is not about church growth; it’s about hope for lost sinners like us, hope that is found only in the good news of Jesus Christ.
Study Question #1
In Acts 2:14-36, Peter preaches a Christ-centered sermon in which he presents Jesus as both Lord and Christ. Peter’s message is similar at points with the message proclaimed by Jesus himself in Mark 1:14-15. Read Jesus’ message from Mark and answer the following questions:
- What are the main ideas of Jesus’ sermon from Mark?
- How does Peter make the same points?
- How is Peter’s sermon different from Jesus’ message?
- What is significant about the difference(s)?
Study Question #2
Look closely at the connection between Acts 2:39 and 2:40. How do you reconcile God calling people to himself with Peter’s continued exhortation to the crowd to believe in Christ? What practical implications does this have for your ministry of the gospel to others?
Think about any non-Christians with whom you interact regularly. Identify one person and begin to pray regularly for God to act in that person’s life. While praying for God to act, also be praying for opportunities to speak the gospel with him/her.