38 Then Peter 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. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38–39, NKJV)
The “gift of the Holy Spirit” is the promised redemption the Spirit gives to those who believe, repent, and are baptized in the name of Christ for the remission of sins. Many mistakenly believe the gift in verse 38 is the Spirit Himself. Yet, the gift of the Holy Spirit is the promise of redemption available to all (v. 39, 21; Gen. 22:18). It is synonymous with Peter’s parallel statement in Acts 3:19, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Spiritual blessings (“times of refreshing”) come to the sinner who is converted by the gospel (believes, repents, and is baptized, Acts 2:37-38; Eph. 1:3). The “promise of the Spirit” is the “blessing of Abraham,” which is received “through faith” (through the gospel, Gal. 3:14, 15-25). Our responsibility as Christians is to continue steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching because what they taught is from the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:10-13). God does not give us a personal indwelling of His Spirit (apart from the word of the gospel) to guide us. The word of truth He gave us through the apostles guides us (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
20 avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us—21 providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. (2 Corinthians 8:20–21, NKJV)
During his third preaching journey, the apostle Paul encouraged churches in Gentile regions to send funds to relieve their needy brethren in the Jerusalem church (Rom. 15:25-28; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8-9). Paul meticulously advised the churches to choose messengers to deliver their generous gifts to their brethren (2 Cor. 8:16-18, 23; 1 Cor. 16:3-4). These scriptures establish a pattern that approves churches sending benevolent relief directly to a needy church. Paul also sets an example of honor when administering church funds. Honesty and transparency in the sight of God and before men are vital when handling the funds of a local church. Those who have that responsibility must be careful and faithful stewards. Respect for God, the church, and the power of godly influence demands nothing less (1 Pet. 2:12).
18 Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. 19 And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus. 20 When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” (Luke 5:18–20, NKJV)
Jesus saw their faith, and forgave the man’s sins. In just this way, an active faith that is seen by God is the faith He requires of us for our forgiveness. Salvation is “by grace, through faith;” it is “not our yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Salvation is “not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Does anyone think that because Jesus saw their faith, the paralytic earned the right to be forgiven? Certainly not! Why then, is there so much objection to saving faith being one that obeys the Lord’s commands (to repent and be baptized, Acts 2:38; Mk. 16:16)? You see, faith that cannot be seen is incomplete (James 2:17-18). Faith must be coupled with the action of faith (obedience), because “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). Saving faith is active, it is obedient to the word of Jesus. Obedient faith does not earn the right to be saved. Salvation is the gift of God, and Jesus gave that gift of salvation to the paralytic. But, what he had not lowered him into Christ’s presence? Without their active faith, he would have not been saved. Do you have faith to obey Jesus, to be saved by His grace? Does Jesus see your faith?
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9, NKJV)
Given by grace, salvation is the gift of God. This great and marvelous truth is confirmed in Romans 6:23, “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. God’s gift of salvation is obtained “through faith”. Faith is the sinner’s response to the gospel (which is the “word of His grace”, Acts 20:24, 32). Faith comes by hearing the word of God, therefore, one cannot be saved without knowing and believing the gospel (Rom. 10:17). But, salvation “through faith” is not faith “only”, since confession of one’s faith, repentance of sins and water baptism are necessary actions of faith inseparably connected to salvation (see Romans 10:9-10; Acts 2:38 and 1 Peter 3:21). When a person with faith obeys the “gospel of the grace of God” he does not merit his salvation (“not of works”); he accepts God’s gift “through faith”. Faith that is void of obedience is not salvation faith. What kind of faith do you choose to have today?