I just read a post at http://keithbrenton.blogspot.com/ that prompted this post. You should visit Keith’s blog and read some of his stuff, especially the latest post. He poses the question “Is an imperative always a command?” He then takes a look at Acts 2:38. His take is interesting to say the least. All of his posts are excellent reading.
Acts 2:38. Is there any church of Christ/Christian church member who has not heard scores of sermons on this foundational verse? Perhaps you can answer some questions.
- In the verse there are two imperatives “repent” and “be baptised”. Since “repent”, “repentance”, etc. are mentioned far, far more than baptism, why is the emphasis of perhaps 99% of all lessons on this verse focused on baptism rather than “repent”?
- In my view, an improper empasis on baptism can result in a person trusting an event rather than a person, the Lord Jesus. Isn’t baptism meaningless unless one has truely “changed his or her mind” (repented) about the course of their life?
- Is it possible that we might have misunderstood the meaning of Acts 2:38? The gift of the Holy Spirit is a promised result of obeying these two imperatives, or commands. In Peter’s own words later, he connected the gift of the Holy Spirit, not to baptism but to “belief”, which is the flip side of repentance. ““Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:47) In the next chapter Peter defends his action of baptizing Gentiles. His clear answer was “Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:15,17)
Is it possible that many of us have put the gospel cart before the horse?