“And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:40, AV)
When I consider the world around us and the moral decline of our country, I must conclude that we live in a “untoward,” crooked, generation. We as believer may look at people sometimes and feel that they are too far gone down the sordid path to be saved. We think that they would never respond to the gospel. Many probably thought that about me and never thought to tell me about Jesus, much less ask me to do something about Jesus.
One of the key things they tell salespeople in business is to ask people to make a purchasing decision. Now we are not selling Jesus to people, but in a sense, we are to apply some of the same principles. Here in this passage, Peter asks the audience to do something with the message of Jesus. The passage states that he both testified and exhorted them.
The word “exhort” in this verse, parakaleo, is a compound word that literally means to call beside or to call near. The New Testament uses the word in a variety of contexts. Here it is a call for those who do not believe to respond to God’s grace for salvation. While we know that God saves people by His grace alone through the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, this does not negate the need for the one proclaiming the gospel to ask a person to do something with the message. We are to sow the Word of God and call people to respond to God’s grace.
Yet, we might wonder why, since God is the one that saves and not us, we should call people to respond to God’s grace? Well, while God saves by His grace alone apart from any works of man’s righteousness, we also realize that the lost will stand at the judgment based upon their own life’s choices. In Revelation, we read the following (Rev 20:12). We also know that those who have not responded will enter into eternal punishment (Rev 20:15)
People need to understand that the Lord will judge people according to their works, the result of the decisions they made in life. Furthermore, they must understand that, apart from a decision to trust in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation, they will receive the judgment of eternal punishment. Yet, the only way for them to escape this judgment is to have their name written in the “Book of Life.” The names written in this “Book of Life” are those whom God has saved by His grace alone.
We who proclaim Jesus have a biblical precedent to call people to respond to the message. We then must trust God for their response. If people do choose to respond to the call to salvation, we must realize that God is the one who has worked in their life, changing their nature in such a way as to respond to His grace. When you witness, challenge people to understand the results of their decisions and to respond to God’s salvation by faith, just as Peter did on the Day of Pentecost.