Summary: There are many answers given in the religious world to the question, "What must I do to be saved?". Which answer is correct? Let's examine the first conversion account in Acts to find out what the Holy Spirit's answer is to this important question.
What a great day for the kingdom of God it must have been when that first sermon was preached by Peter! The door into the kingdom of heaven was opened to the world. That first sermon led to the salvation of about 3000 souls.
Let’s put ourselves into the shoes of the people hearing this first sermon preached about Jesus Christ.
Some of these people were probably there on the day when Jesus was before Pilate being judged. Some may have even been part of the crowd that was yelling, “Crucify Him, crucify Him (Luke 23:21).” Their hearts must have been deeply pierced by the words of Peter when he, by the Spirit, said to them that they were guilty of putting to death the Son of God, the promised Messiah in whom they had been so anxiously awaiting (Acts 2:23, 36). We probably could not begin to understand the sorrow that was in their hearts for their wickedness in turning over the Son of God to the Gentiles to have Him crucified.
I don’t know what your response would be to the words of Peter, but the question that I would ask, begging for an answer, would be, “What must I do to be forgiven?”
This is exactly how the people responded to Peter and the other Apostles. We see the peoples’ response to the word of God in Acts 2:37:
“When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?” I’m sure that they, just as any of us, couldn’t wait for the answer to this question! What would the answer be? What would they need to do to be forgiven of their sin against God?
Did Peter answer by giving some of these answers you commonly hear today? Some common answers that people give are:
-“You don’t have to do a thing. Jesus did it all on the cross just 50 days ago for you!”
-“Just say this prayer with me and Jesus will come into your heart.”
-“It seems like you already believe what I’ve said, so you are already saved!”
-"Say ________ 'hail Mary's' and your sins will be forgiven."
Did Peter give any of these common answers that we hear today? No, he didn’t say any of these things, because these were not what the Lord told him to say to the people on how they could receive forgiveness. So how did Peter answer this great question? Peter, being inspired by the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).”
Peter tells them that if they wanted to be forgiven of their sins each of them needed to repent and be baptized for the remission of those sins. These were the things they needed to do! We see that there were about 3000 people who did just that! Acts 2:41 says, “those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” When these people received the word of God, they obeyed it by being baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. It should not surprise us that Peter would give this answer to the people because Jesus Himself gave this instruction in the great commission. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved (Mark 16:16).”