37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.“Acts 2:37-38
I have spent several weeks fretting about this verse in advance of today’s sermon. It looks to me like Peter is saying that you must be baptized before you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirt.
But my church teaches, and I believe in, believers’ baptism, which suggests that one isn’t ready for baptism by water (an ordinance, not a sacrament) until after one has been baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit.
The only way this verse would make sense (to me) is if Peter is talking about baptism by the Spirit, not baptism by water.
In fact in this morning’s church service our Pastor spoke for about 10 minutes about the logistical difficulties of baptizing 3000 people with water in one day. (Acts 2:41)
I waiver back and forth between thinking it’s important to figure this out, and thinking this is a distraction from the main point. I mean, however you look at it, it’s a Miracle that 3000 souls were saved in a single day following a single sermon. But at issue here is Luke’s history of the early church. My understanding is that poetry, prophesy and parables may be interpreted figuratively, but that history recounted in the Bible is history, and it’s God’s inerrant Word.
I need … REALLY need … to remember to pray about this puzzlement and ask God how He wants us to understand it — not just try to use my own worldly brain to make sense out of His Word without turning to Him for His guidance.