by Steven Chan
19 April 2009
When Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matt.28:18-20, it was His desire that the gospel be preached to all nations, beginning from “Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The various accounts of conversions tell us how the apostles were obedient to the Great Commission. Let’s learn what the accounts of conversions show us about those who need the gospel and responded to it.
In Acts 2, about 3000 Jews responded to the gospel. God tells us that the gospel can elicit mass conversions. It does not matter whether it is as big as 3,000 or a multitude of people. All had to obey the gospel – even if they were Jews who knew the teachings of God as contained in the Old Testament. They were all told to by the apostle in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will Peter to “Repent and be baptized, every
one of you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) On that day 3000 obeyed the gospel by believing in Jesus, repenting of their sins, and being baptized in order to have their sins forgiven.
In Acts 8, Philip, the evangelist, went to Samaria to preach the word of God. To the Jews, these were considered religiously unacceptable people. Yet, when the crowds heard Philip and believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” (Acts 8:12). God does not make any exception as regards the availability of the gospel plan of salvation. Today, all who are not yet Christians need to avail themselves to the gospel.
The account concerning the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8 (the Treasurer or Minister of Finance of Ethiopia, showed that the gospel is needed even by those who are already religious as he had come to Jerusalem to worship. He too needed to believe in Jesus and to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. The Ethiopian believed in Christ and confessed his faith to Philip and “both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.” (Acts 8:38)
The conversion of Saul in Acts 9 tells us that even the worst enemies of the gospel needs the gospel and be converted just like Saul became a great preacher later on. After arriving in Damascus God sent Ananias to him and Saul was commanded to “Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” (Acts 22:16) Saul was baptized and his sins were washed away. It is important to note that Saul was not saved on the road to Damascus. If his sins had already been forgiven when he saw the Lord and spoke with Him, then Ananias would not have to tell him to be baptized to wash his sins away.
The conversion of Cornelius in Acts 10, 11 tells us that even the non-Jews and even those who are religious and are good people, still need to obey the gospel in order to be saved. For “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
The account of the conversion of the godly business lady, Lydia in Acts 16 showed that even busy businesspeople including a lady businessperson, can respond to the gospel. Sometimes we think that business people don’t have time for the gospel and are not inclined to hear the gospel. This case tells us otherwise.
The conversion of the Philippian Jailor in Acts 16 tells us that those who are over us also can be converted and that they can be saved at anytime – even at midnight and in an unexpected place – in prison. No need to be in a church building! All can respond to the gospel wherever they may happen to be.
The conversion of the Ephesians in Acts 19 tells us that those who have not been baptized correctly (ie. under the Great Commission, which requires baptism in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins), were required to be baptized correctly in order to be fully compliant with the terms of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; I Pet 3:21).
One could say that there were many conversions in the first century but these were recorded that we can all learn that God requires all who would want to go to heaven (John 14:6), to obey the gospel so that they can be saved. There is no exception and no one is to be excluded from obeying the gospel.