This Week's Focus Passage

Acts 2:39: ‘For to you is the promise, and to your children.’

What is the promise of which Peter speaks when he informs his auditory that this promise is both for you and for your children? What is the message that he has given his hearers? And to just what was his message a response? Let us have a good look at the context of these things. Acts 2:32-39 provides the important context:

This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we all are witnesses. Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear. For David ascended not into the heavens: but he saith himself,
The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet.

Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be ye baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him.

Is not the promise, the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? And is not the antecedent of that statement, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ? And does not baptism ‘in the name of Jesus Christ’ necessarily entail professing faith in that Name? So that this antecedent word amounts to the same as do calls elsewhere in Scripture in the language of ‘Repent, and believe the gospel.’ So that when we read here, that For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him, it involves this promise to not only you, but equally to your children, that if they repent and believe on the Name of Jesus Christ, they will receive remission of their sins, namely forgiveness and all that that connotes, which includes the Spirit of adoption, based upon the new birth, or regeneration. Paul has delightfully pointed out to the believers in Rome, and ourselves with them, that whom he foreknew—that means from before the foundation of the world—he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son—which bespeaks our being placed in Christ before the foundation of the world—that he might be the firstborn among many brethren—strongly suggesting reference to the truth that all those being found in Christ from before the foundation of the world, shall be regenerated, or born again, at the time appointed by the Father, thus making Christ the firstborn among these many brethren being born again. Speaking further on these matters concerning those whom he foreordained, he says, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.—Romans 8:29-30.
These most blessed words of the Apostle to the Gentiles—that means most of us—have been referred to by more than one writer of past and present, as a golden chain of salvation. And we happily add this reality to that beautiful analogy; the fact that this chain cannot be broken by man, and it certainly will not be broken by God. Every person, being foreordained of God and placed in the care of the second Person of the Trinity, shall be saved; Christ shall see, in them, of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. Every one of these individuals will be called by the gospel to come unto God through Jesus Christ, and they will be made willing to come in the day of His regenerating power, applied by God, the Holy Spirit. Thus coming, through the gift of faith which accompanies regeneration, they shall be justified, reckoned as not guilty in the eyes of God, having been covered in the precious blood of the Lamb of God, our Savior. They will be forgiven on the spot, sanctified throughout their lives, and ultimately glorified, as we discover recorded in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10:

At the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints.

All those coming to Christ, receiving forgiveness through their vicarious substitute, brought into the kingdom of God; enjoying the adoption of sons and daughters, shall then be raised from their graves, or meet Him in the air at His coming.

These are all events in the ones predestinated by God to be redeemed and recovered unto Him; this is His absolutely perfect design for them, that they, every one, be conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be seen to be the firstborn among many brethren. And while baptism has been instituted by Christ, an ordinance for the believer to follow Christ, it is nowhere found in this chain of events pointed to by Paul in Romans 8, and elsewhere. Baptism is not a means of salvation. It is not spiritually fatal if overlooked. Much less does it involve any regenerating power for the recipient. Not one of those means of grace appointed by God unto salvation may safely be overlooked, or ignored; not repentance, faith, forgiveness, justification, sanctification, or glorification. This is the packaged design of God the Father.

Those imagining that an infant will be granted, at baptism, any, or all of these redemptive blessings apart from exercising repentance and faith—exercises that they are totally unable to perform, are grossly mistaken. Through this mistake, they abandon the truth that there are only two sorts of persons in the Bible; sheep and goats. They effectively establish a third—something between a sheep and a goat. Their children are ‘covenant children,’ part of the church, the body of Christ, yet not part of the body of Christ, expecting to be confirmed by the church at some later point in time. What they need is to be conformed, not confirmed. And they will never be conformed until they are born again, not of baptism, but of the Holy Ghost.

David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church


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