While studying through the book of Acts in preparing for sermons, I have run across comments by scholars that give Christ-centered, sanctifying thoughts. I am grateful for insights that lend themselves toward cleansing, sanctifying, purifying, setting apart, and making me and my congregation more holy through a deeper understanding of God’s word. I am reminded that the Lord sanctifies us by adherence to the teachings, rebukes, corrections, and instructions of his word as the word of God is read (publically and privately) and preached, and then remembered, meditated upon in dependency, and utilized in wisdom and moral decision-making (cf. Ps. 1:1-3; 19:7-14; Jn. 15:1-3; Acts 20:26-27; 32; Phil. 2:15-16; I Thes. 2:13; Heb 5:13-14; Ja 1:18-27; I Pet 1:24-2:3; 2 Pet 3:11-13). My hope week to week as I preach is that I and the people I am privileged to serve will be conformed more to the likeness of Christ, will gain knowledge to teardown the philosophies, arguments, worldviews that attempt to exalt themselves over the knowledge of Christ, that we will be equipped to give a defense of our hope in Christ, and that we might see more and more of the light of the Gospel of God in the face of Christ (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 4:4-6; 10:4-5; 2 Pet. 3:15). Christ-centered thinking in scholarly commentaries aid me as I prepare to serve the flock of God.
This week I ran across some good, Gospel-focused thinking by David G. Peterson in The Acts of the Apostles in the Pillar New Testament Commentary Series. The commentary is first-rate, and I would highly recommend it for the study of Acts. Therein you will find comments like the following on Acts 2:40:
Peter’s appeal (‘Save yourselves’) picks up the language of v. 21, where salvation from the coming judgment of God is meant (v. 20)… But salvation ‘from this corrupt generation’ points to the need for rescue from something more immediate. In order to escape from the judgment of God, Peter’s audience needed to be rescued from the corrupting and damning influence of society. This recalls the charge of Jesus that this generation was unbelieving, perverse (Lk. 7:31-35; 9:41), and wicked (11:29-32). They followed the trend of previous generations, who rejected God’s messengers (11:50-52; 17:25) and effectively killed the one sent to them by God… But the need for salvation from this corrupt generation… should not simply be linked with the recent events in Jerusalem. The wider use of this terminology suggests that people in general need to be saved because they are part of one of the many generations that have failed or is presently failing before God and thus constitute corrupt humanity. Those who want to be saved from the judgment of God need to distance themselves from their generation and identify with Jesus and his cause… Even though Peter’s message was to Israel, it was effectively a call to come out from among them and be separate (cf. Isa. 52:11). The implication is that the disciples were the believing remnant of Israel or, more importantly, the nucleus of a renewed Israel. Later generations have not had the same opportunity to see and hear Christ directly. But it remains true that people in every age need to take a stand against their generation in its rejection of Jesus and his message. They need to know about the consequence of persisting in unbelief and rebellion against God. Authentic gospel proclamation will communicate the challenge to take this step and ‘be saved’ from the approaching judgment of God by calling upon the name of Jesus for deliverance (cf. I Thes. 1:9-10; 2 Thes. 1:5-10). The following verse explains how that salvation was appropriated by a very large number of Jews in Jerusalem and how the Spirit united them in a new fellowship of commitment and care. (David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles (PNTC). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009: 157-158.)
Peterson’s commentary is important. We are saved from inherent sin, sinful acts, and also from a sinful society. The Gospel works in us a repentance that makes us counter-cultural and other-worldly. Believers have a salvation experience that saves them from a crooked generation (cf. Dt. 32:5; Mt. 17:17). As such, believers are then able to be formed into a church that is devoted to actions produced by the combined working of the outpoured Spirit and the preaching of the lordship of Christ (cf. Acts 2:14-36,42-47): The church that has all things in common among believers is a church that sees a distinction between those baptized in the name of Christ and those in the world; the church that turns the world upside down must first see that the world is upside down and Christ is the one who sets as many who are called right-side up. This is the hope of all who desire to see the Lord bring about the sort of Spirit-wrought work that would add 3000 souls to a congregation. That is, we would want 3000 people added whose lives are distinctly different that the lives of those outside of Christ. We would not want a bag of 50% repentant and 50% culturally-crooked. Acts 2:40 is a call to guard the front door of the church and to preach Christ as Lord.