By Danny Graham
All Christians are familiar with the events that occurred on the day of Pentecost. These events are described for us in Acts 2. That day was certainly an important day. It was the “birthday” of the church here on earth.
However, there seem to be quite a few misconceptions held by people in some religious groups about just what went on that day. In this article, instead of spending time talking about what did happen, we are going to look at some things which many people seem to think happened on that day which in reality did not.
Holy Spirit Baptism On All Believers. There are some people who believe that all believers in Jesus Christ will receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. To understand this subject properly, we need to go back into Acts I and see what Jesus said about it. According to Acts 1:2, Jesus was talking with his apostles shortly before he ascended into heaven. In verse 5, he promised them the Holy Spirit would baptize them in a few days. He says the same thing in different words in verse 8 when he says they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Jesus here did not promise this to anyone other than the apostles.
Acts 2:1 says “they” were gathered together. Who are they? According to Acts 1:47, the verse preceding, it is Matthias and the other eleven apostles. Verses 1-4 of chapter 2 show that the apostles were the only ones to receive Holy Spirit baptism on the day of Pentecost.
The Promise of the Kingdom Being Established Later. There are many religious people who believe that Christ will return to earth in order to establish his kingdom. Peter preached something different. He said that the resurrection of Christ and his ascension to God’s right hand was in fulfillment of God’s promise to David that the Christ would sit upon his throne. Read verses 25-36. There is no promise anywhere in the New Testament that Jesus will return to build his kingdom. It is already built, and he rules over it from God’s right hand.
The Holy Spirit Saving People Through Direct, Miraculous Intervention. Some men today teach that the Holy Spirit must work on you from within before you can be saved. They often describe it as an experience better felt than told. Is that what happened on the day of Pentecost? Verse 37 shows that those who ultimately were saved were indeed pricked in their hearts. But, what did the pricking? Was it miraculous power from the Holy Spirit? No, it was “when they heard this.” That is, the preaching of the gospel saved men then just as it does today. That is because the gospel is God’s power to salvation (Rom. 1:16).
Salvation by Faith Only. There is no doubt that the 3000 on the day of Pentecost believed what they heard. Not only did it prick them in their hearts, but it motivated them to ask Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (v. 37) There is no doubt they believed. Yet, they felt they were not saved. In answering their question, Peter did not say they were already saved because they had believed. Faith alone does not save (Jas. 2). Peter thus told them to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins (v. 3).
Baptism of Infants. Those who believe in and practice the sprinkling of infants sometime use the argument that since so many were baptized that day, some of them must have been infants. Of course, that just is not so. Remember, Peter had told them to repent first. An infant has no sins to repent of, and furthermore, he does not have the capacity to repent. But notice also verse 41. It says that those who gladly received his word were baptized. Only one who is old enough to appreciate the gravity of his actions can make such a decision.
People Joining the Church of Their Choice. This is something that people are often encouraged to do. The idea inherent in this suggestion is that any church that professes to follow Christ is acceptable to him, so you can join whichever one you enjoy the most. Verse 47 says the Lord added the saved to the church. First, there is no joining. The Lord adds. Second, we do not become part of just any church, but of the one true church that Jesus built. Are you part of that church?
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 10, pp. 289, 311
May 19, 1988