HOW SALVATION WORKS
Intro: Questions! Our lives are filled with them. People spend their lives
asking themselves all kinds of questions. One of the questions man asks
himself is: How can I make a lot of money? When he has made his
money, he will often ask: How can I make myself more beautiful or
handsome and desirable? The next question is: How can I be sure that
I will live long enough to enjoy my money and my popularity? The final
question man asks is: What kind of legacy can I leave behind that will
ensure that people will remember me after I am gone? Did you know
that not a one of these questions really addresses what is most important
The Bible offers us two questions that are of eternal significance. These
are the two questions that man should be asking himself. The first question
is found in Matthew 16:15, “Whom say ye that I am?” God the Father
answered it this way: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
pleased.”, Matt. 3:17. Simon Peter answered it like this: “Thou art the
Christ, the Son of the living God.”, Matt. 16:16. Every person’s eternal
destiny rests on how he answers that question! What is your answer to that
I think you would agree with me that that is an important question. The
second important question offered in the Bible is found in verse 37, “What
shall we do?” The question they are asking is this: “What must we do to
be saved?” This was the same question that was asked by the Philippian
Jailer in Acts 16:30. This is a question that arises out of a heart touched by
God. It is this question that gets to the heart of man’s greatest need.
You see, man doesn’t need more money. Man doesn’t need more
things. Man doesn’t need better health or longer life. What man needs is
to be saved! He needs to be in a right relationship with God!
In this passage, Simon Peter preaches the first Gospel message. He
explains in detail how a person can be saved. He tells us in very clear terms
how anyone can come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal
Savior. He tells us How Salvation Works. That is the thought that I want
to magnify today. So, let’s examine How Salvation Works. It may be that
someone here today is asking themselves that same question: “What must
I do to be saved?” If so, this message is for you and this passage has the
answers you need. So, let’s take a few minutes to think about the subject,
“How Salvation Works.”
I. V. 37a THE FIRST STEP IS CONVICTION
(Ill. What does it mean to be convicted? The Bible says that those who heard Peter’s sermon were “pricked in their heart.” The word
“pricked” means “to be pierced through, to be stabbed, to be greatly
agitated or troubled.” What they heard that day caused them to be
troubled in their hearts. This is what conviction is all about. The word
“conviction” means “To persuade of convince the mind by evidence.
To convince man of error or of truth.” They were convinced of the
truth of what Peter was preaching! When they heard what Peter was
preaching about Jesus Christ, they were convinced that it was true and
they were touched deep within their hearts. Let’s look at what convinced
these men that day!)
A. V. 14-21 Convinced By The Fulfillment Of God’s Word - Peter
merely reminded them that God had said that this day would come.
They were convinced by the fact that God has kept His Word.
B. V. 22-36 Convinced By The Fruitfulness Of God’s Work - As
Peter talked about Jesus, He was talking about a man of whom they
had all heard much. They had heard of His claims to be the
Messiah. They had also heard that He had been crucified. But,
there were rumors all over Jerusalem that this man had risen from
the dead! After all, there were over 500 people running around that
claimed to have seen Him after His resurrection, 1 Cor. 15:6. Now,
these followers of Jesus are all filled with the Spirit and telling the
multitudes that He had indeed risen from the dead.
You see, the Day of Pentecost was exactly 50 days from the day
Jesus raised from the dead. It was only 10 days separated from the
His ascension back into Heaven. For 40 of those 50 days, Jesus
had lived with, worked among and instructed His disciples. Oh, the
people in the crowd had all heard the rumors. Rumors of stolen
corpses, empty graves, terrified disciples and frightened Jewish
leadership. Now, one of Jesus’ followers is telling them that this
same Jesus they had crucified was risen again and they are
convinced! In fact, they are being told that the blame rests squarely
upon their own shoulders, v. 23-26.
C. V. 15, 32 Convinced By The Faithfulness Of God’s Witnesses -
This crowd had certainly heard about the terrified disciples hiding in
the upper room. Now, they see them standing boldly and preaching
ion the power of the Spirit of God and they are convinced! This
crowd saw the change in these people. They also understood the
risk these disciples were taking in standing up to proclaim Jesus
Christ. When the message was preached in power, they
acknowledged that this message was indeed the truth from God and
it convinced them!
(Note: If you are saved today, or if you are lost, but will be saved some
day you need to know that God will use these methods and more to
bring you under conviction. You see, before you can ever be saved, you
must first be brought under conviction of your sins and your sinful
condition, John 6:44. You can never be saved until God opens your
eyes to what you are and Who you need, Eph. 2:1-3; 2 Cor. 4:4.
So, what is conviction? It is God, Himself, taking whatever steps are
necessary to convince you that His claims concerning Jesus are true.
It is God bringing you to the place where you can see yourself as a lost
sinner in need of a Savior and to where you can see that Jesus Christ
is your only hope. It is God bringing you to the place where you cry out,
“What must I do to be saved?”
By the way, this is not a negative thing! Notice what Jesus Himself
said about conviction, John 16:7-13. The greatest day of your life is
when God shows you that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. That is
the day your life begins to forever change for the better. That is the day
you take the first steps toward Christ and His salvation.)
(Note: Take some time to describe what conviction feels like and how
to recognize the symptoms! Have you ever been under deep
conviction? Did it hurt? When the Word of God comes to you in your
sins and brings conviction, it will hurt deeply, Heb. 4:12-13. Zechariah
describes what conviction will be like for the Jews present when Jesus
returns in glory, Zech. 12:10.)
II. V. 37b-41a THE SECOND STEP IS CONVERSION
(Ill. After these people are convicted, Peter tells them how to be
converted. He tells them how salvation is brought about!)
A. V. 38a Conversion Involves Changing The Mind - Peter tells them
to “repent”. Repentance is “a change of mind that results in a
change of action.” Up until now, these Jews had believed the party
line concerning the identity of Jesus Christ, Peter tells them it is time
to change their minds concerning Jesus. That is the plea of verse
Genuine repentance is an absolute essential ingredient in
salvation. For when you repent of your sins, you will forsake your
sinful ways. You will think like God thinks, feel like God feels, will
God’s way and work for Him with zeal and delight. You see,
repentance is more than just felling sorry for your sins. It is more
than sorrow over being “found out” in your sins. Repentance is an
absolute changing of the life! It is a renunciation of the old life in sin
and the embracing of the new life in Christ, 2 Cor. 5:17. (Ill. The
Geneva Study Bible says this about repentance: “Repentance
means changing one's mind, so that one's views, values, goals,
and ways are changed, and one's whole life is lived differently.
Mind and judgment, will and affections, behavior and lifestyle,
motives and plans: all are involved. Repenting means starting
to live a new life.”, page 1756.
But, there is a problem with repentance! The problem is this: man cannot repent of his sins unless he is aided by God! The Bible
is clear, repentance is a gift of God, Acts 5:31; Acts 11:18, 2 Tim.
2:25. Genuine repentance is not turning over a new leaf. That will
not last, because it is the effort of man and a work of the flesh!
Genuine repentance is a work of grace in the heart of a sinner that
makes him desire to be a new creature in Christ! But, don’t despair
and think that you cannot repent! If the Lord is convicting your heart
and calling you to be saved, He is extending His grace to you
already and He will see it through in your life. If He is calling, He will
give grace to follow Him in genuine repentance!
B. V. 38b Conversion Involves Confessing The Master - Peter than
calls on these people to be “baptized every one of you in the
name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Peter is not
telling them that baptism will wash all their sins away and save them.
He is telling them that openly identifying themselves with Jesus
Christ through baptism in His Name will give public testimony to the
fact that they have received the message of the Gospel!
I am sure most of you know that baptism does not save!
However, receiving Jesus Christ by faith does, Rom. 10:9-10. Peter
is trying to get these people openly admit that they have embraced
the Gospel. That is, he wants them to give external evidence to an
internal work. That was the function of baptism then, and it is the
function of baptism today!
Do not miss the fact that salvation does not come by external
rituals such as baptism, but that it comes through believing the truth
about Jesus Christ and embracing Him as you only hope of
C. V. 39-41 Conversion Involves Claiming The Message - The Bible
tells us that they “gladly received his word.” That is, they accepted
the Gospel message and openly identified themselves with Jesus
Christ. That is the essence of salvation! It isn’t about getting in an
altar and praying some prayer! It isn’t about signing a card in an
evangelistic crusade. It is about hearing the truth of the Gospel and
receiving it by faith. That is what saves the soul!
That is why the Bible puts it so simply time and time again! Jesus said it this way: John 3:16; John 6:47. Paul said it this way to
the Philippian Jailer, Acts 16:31. Phillip had this to say to the Ethiopian
eunuch, Acts 8:36-37. God said it this way to the whole world, Isa.
45:22. The Holy Spirit says it this way to you, Rev. 22:17.
III. V. 41B-42 THE THIRD STEP IS CONTINUATION
(Ill. We are told that these people, after they were saved. “Continued
steadfastly” in their new way of life. This little phrase means “to
persevere, to give constant attention to someone or something.”
When they were saved, they begin a new life. After they were saved,
they continued in that new life. Nothing makes the clear statement that
you are saved more so than your steadfast continuation in the things of
God! You see, a new life is proof of conversion, James 2:18! Some
people call this “the perseverance of the saints”. Notice the things they
held to after they were saved.)
A. They Continued In The Right Acknowledgment - We are told they
continued steadfastly in “the Apostles’ doctrine”. That is, they
lived by the Word of God. They made the teachings of the Bible the
centerpiece and guiding influence of their lives. This is always
evidence of genuine salvation, 1 John 2:3; 3:24. Your obedience
to the Word of God is proof of your love for the Savior, John 14:15.
B. They Continued In The Right Associations - They also continued
in the “fellowship”. That is, there was a new love for the brethren
and a desire to be with them. Again, this is proof of a converted life,
1 John 3:14. If you love the brethren, it is only because you have
the love of God within you, 1 John 4:7! However, the absence of
love for the brethren, signals an absence of genuine salvation in
your life, 1 John 4:20-21.
C. They Continued In The Right Appointments - When the Bible
refers to “the breaking of bread”, it is speaking of the gathering of
the saints at the Lord’s table for worship and to observe communion.
It is talking about the gathering together of the saints for worship. In
other words, they went to church! Your desire for and involvement
in worship says a lot about your commitment to the Lord Jesus!
After all, we are commanded to gather with the people of God for
worship, Heb. 10:25. Are you frequenting the assembly of the
D. They Continued In The Right Adorations - Lastly, we are told they
continued in “prayers”. This refers to personal worship before the
Lord. These people took the time to get into the presence of the
Lord on a personal level. Again, your desire for a personal
relationship with God is an indicator of your spiritual condition!
Saved people want to be near the Lord often!
(Note: None of these things can produce salvation in the heart of any
individual, but each of these things is an indicator of the truthfulness of
our claim to be saved. When we know Him, we will want to be near Him
and His people. Our continuation in the things that matter to Him is a
good sign that we are His!)
Conc: What must we do to be saved? I think we know now, don’t we?
Those are the simple steps that teach us how salvation works. Has God
spoken to you today, through this passage?
My friends, if you are under conviction today and you know that Jesus
is Who the Bible says He is, and you know you are a sinner in need of a
Savior, I invite you to come to Him right now. You can be saved!
If you have a professed a relationship with Jesus at some point, but your
experience doesn’t line up with what the Bible teaches about being saved,
then I invite you to come to Him so you can get the real thing today.
If you are saved but you have become slack in your new life and want
things to be like they used to be, you need to come. Or, if you are saved
and just want to thank Him for convicting you and converting you, then you
need to come.
When Peter preached his message 3,000 people were saved. I don’t
expect that to happen today, because not that many people are present.
Close, but not quite! However, I do expect God to honor His Word today
and I humbly ask you to listen to His Spirit and respond to Him if He has
spoken to you.