THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
(Acts 2:38) "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 ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.".
The latter part of this verse is one of the most controversial passages in the New Testament. I shall not go into the various explanations except to point out that the main controversy is whether Peter is saying that they should receive the Holy Spirit himself or receive something from the Holy Spirit. Everywhere the New Testament mentions receiving the Holy Spirit it has to do with something they received from the Holy Spirit so it is reasonable to say that in this place he is saying that if they, as believers, obeyed to gospel command to "repent and be baptized" the would receive the remission of past sins and look forward to eternal salvation. As we contemplate the meaning of the passage think about this: "What are the two greatest things that could happen to mankind?" Answer: the guilt of his past sins could be forgiven and he could look forward to heaven after awhile.
But, someone says, the gift of eternal salvation is from God. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23 ). All the Godhead is working toward to same result thus the promise of a heavenly hereafter is attributed not only to God but to the Son: "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Hebrews 5:9). And we find the heavenly gift being attributed to the Spirit in another place: "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" And then we find the same heavenly promise being made by the reception of the word: "And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified" (Galatians 6:8). So you see, all the forces of heaven are responsible for the great gift of eternal salvation.
Peter told the people on that day that the promise was not only to the Jews but to "them that were afar off" or the Gentiles and we have the same parallel promise being made concerning the Gentiles but in words that we can readily understand:"Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me" (Acts 26:17-19).
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