Firm Foundation #9

    FIRST CHRISTIAN CONVERTS

    In this lesson we will learn about the first converts to the religion of Jesus Christ. In the second chapter of the book of Acts of the Apostles we have a record of the sermon preached by the apostle Peter, which was the first time the gospel was preached in fact. The gospel (glad tidings) had been preached before in prophecy during the Mosaic dispensation by men who had foretold the coming of Messiah. It had been preached in principle during the lifetime of John the Baptist and the ministry of Jesus. But now, for the first time, the gospel was preached as a reality among men and the opportunity was offered to those who heard it to become members of the church that Jesus built, to receive the remission of their sins, and the peace of God which passeth all understanding. It is recommended that the student read the second chapter of the book of Acts in its entirety along with this lesson.

    In the first four verses of the second chapter of Acts, we are told how Christ, in executing his first administrative act as King of kings, and Lord of lords, sent upon his apostles the mighty power of the Holy Ghost. During his life Jesus had promised to send this power, sometimes called “the Comforter,” to the apostles and had said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye shall know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16,17). In the same conversation he also said, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26). “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (John 16:13).

    Therefore, upon the reception of this power from on high the apostles were guided into all truth and were authorized to preach to men the terms of God’s covenant with men. This power came with a great demonstration that attracted the attention of the people who were in Jerusalem and they came to the place where the apostles were. They were all amazed and marveled because these men of Galilee, who were considered to be ignorant and unlearned, were the objects of such a startling display and because, when the apostles spoke, every man heard and understood in his own language, even though the people present represented fifteen different provinces. Some of the people who gathered to behold this wondrous sight thoughtlessly accused the apostles of being drunk. Peter stood up with the eleven, attracted the attention of the multitude, and denied the groundless charge.

    He then preached a sermon calculated to challenge the thinking of the people and to convince them that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, and the Messiah of Old Testament history and the only hope for sinful and fallen man. Peter began his sermon by reminding the people of a statement that had been made by the prophet Joel, and declared that the coming of the Holy Ghost on this occasion was the fulfillment of what Joel had foretold. He next made a reference to Christ, reminding the people of the miracles and wonders and signs which God did by him among all the people, and of how he had been delivered up by wicked hands to be crucified. Peter declared that God had raised Jesus from the dead because it as impossible that he should be overcome by death, inasmuch as David, in speaking of the Lord had said, “I foresaw the Lord always before my face; for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved; Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance” (Acts 2:25-28). From this prophecy Peter proved that this statement referred to Christ and not to David, as the people and their teachers had mistakenly supposed. In effect Peter said, “David is dead. He was buried right here in the city of Jerusalem, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, his body did see corruption and he did not rise from the dead.” The prophecy could not be referring to David. Peter said concerning David, “Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with on oath to Him, that of the fruit of His loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on His throne; He, seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that this soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption” (Acts 2:30,31).

    When the logic of the inspired Peter forced them to see that this prophecy had reference to someone other than David, and when Peter declared that God had raised up Jesus from the dead, the apostles being witnesses of his resurrection, as certified by the outward manifestations of the coming of the Holy Ghost, the people were compelled to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. The preponderance of evidence pointed to the inescapable conclusion that Jesus was the Son of God and that he had risen from the dead. Following this argument, Peter made a second reference to a prophecy of David, saying, “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make they foes thy footstool” (Acts 2:34-35). Again this did not refer to David because he had not ascended into heaven. It must have had reference to another. Peter, by inspiration, declared that this prophecy referred to Jesus Christ and said of him, “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear” (Acts 2:32,33).

    Peter commanded, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). To know a thing assuredly is to believe it confidently. Therefore, the apostle Peter commanded that the people should confidently believe that Jesus was both Lord and Christ. The people did believe as is evidenced by the graphic expression, “They were pricked in their heart.” Having rejected the overtures of divine mercy by rejecting Christ, having now become convinced that he was all he had claimed to be, and being overcome by the greatness of their crime, they asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:37,38).

    Peter exhorted the people with many other words, urging them to obey the God-given commands he had announced. The result of his inspired eloquence was truly amazing. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).

    The penitent baptized believers continued with the apostles, learning more of the new religion, having fellowship with each other and observing acts of worship. The apostles performed many wonders and signs which served to confirm the message they preached and all of the believers were together, being perfectly united by their love for each other. The church continued to grow and had favor with all of the people “and Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). The student will please notice that there are three outstanding things in this chapter: 1. What the believing people were commanded to do – repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. 2. What they did – the penitent believers were baptized. 3. The results that followed – they were added to the church by God, and therefore were in Christ where they could receive all spiritual blessings.

    Section 1-Fill in the blanks

    Question 1
    The first converts to the religion of Jesus Christ are mentioned in the _________ chapter of the book of __________.

    Question 2
    In the first four verses of the second chapter of Acts, we are told of how Christ sent upon the apostles the power of the __________.

    Question 3
    When the apostles received this power they were guided into all __________ and were __________ to preach to men the .terms o God’s __________ with men.

    Question 4
    The people were attracted by the coming of this power, and they were all __________ and __________ because of this startling display.

    Question 5
    Some of the people accused the apostles of being __________.

    Question 6
    Peter preached a sermon calculated to __________ the thinking of the people and to __________ them that Jesus was the __________.

    Question 7
    In proving this claim Peter quoted from the writing of __________.

    Question 8
    The people believed the preaching of Peter and asked, “__________ and __________, what shall we __________?”

    Question 9
    Peter said, “__________ and be __________ every one of you in the name of __________ __________ for the remission of sins.”

    Question 10
    There were added unto them that day about __________ thousand souls.

    Section 2- Select the correct answer

    Question 1
    The gospel had been preached in prophecy during the :
    Patriarchal AgePassover Feast Mosaic Dispensation

    Question 2
    Peter commanded, Therefore let all of the house of Israel:
    Believe confidentlyKnow assuredlyDo as you please

    Question 3
    After their baptism, the believers continued with the apostles:
    Learning more of the new religionArguing among themselvesFeeling superior to non-converts

    Question 4
    The apostles performed many wonders and signs which served to:
    Drive people awayConfirm the messageMake them rich

    Question 5
    The believers were:
    Perfectly unitedUnhappyMad at each other

    Question 6
    Peter convinced the people that Jesus was the Christ and:
    The Messiah of Old Testament historyThe Elijah who was to comeThe prophet Jeremiah

    Question 7
    Peter declared that it was impossible that Jesus should be overcome by:
    LifeDeathHis enemies

    Question 8
    The church continued to grow and had:
    Favor with all the peopleDisfavor with many of the peopleTo contribute at each service

    Section 3-Complete the Scriptures

    Question 1
    “And it shall come to pass in the last __________, saith God, I will pour out my __________ upon all flesh: and your sons and daughters shall __________, and your __________ shall see visions, and your old men shall dream __________” (Acts 2:17).

    Question 2
    “And they, continuing daily with one __________ in the __________, and breaking __________ from house to house, did eat their meat with __________ and singleness of __________. Praising __________, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the __________ daily such as should be __________” (Acts 2:46,47).

    Question 3
    “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles __________ and __________, and in breaking of bread, and in __________” (Acts 2:42).

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