God at Work
by Pastor Dave Mann
These verses recount Apostle Peter’s Spirit-inspired message on the Day of Pentecost that is delivered to the people gathered from many different countries and languages. He shares how Jesus, the Lord and Messiah, had been crucified but rose again to life. The audience is cut to the heart and asks, “What shall we do?”
Peter’s reply in Acts 2:38-39 addresses two very significant questions.
Who acts in Christian baptism? Is baptism a just public demonstration of my faith? Or is it God who acts on my behalf, uniting me to Jesus?
Who is baptism for? Is baptism restricted to adults? Or is it available for all ages?
Peter starts his reply to the adults standing there, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ.” In other words, agree with God about your sin and come to the waters of baptism where you will meet Jesus.
But Peter goes on with more important comments. Be baptized “for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In baptism, God does some really amazing things. We receive the forgiveness of sins and we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Those are actions that we humans could never do. It is the action of God in Jesus Christ who chooses to act in baptism. In baptism, God acts; we receive. (See also Romans 6:4-6 for more actions in baptism that only God can do.)
But Peter is not finished. He continues by describing who should receive this gift of God. “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” He charges the adult recipients of this grace to have their children baptized as well. Children of believing parents are also invited to be included in the grace of baptism. (For examples of when entire households are baptized based on the faith of a parent, see Acts 16:14-15; 16:31-34.)
God is at work in baptism for all ages of believing families. Isn’t it amazing what God can do through water and the power of his Word? Around 3000 people were saved that day, and the wave of God’s grace still rolls on.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the grace and mercy that you lavish and pour upon us in baptism. Keep on coming, Lord. Amen