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. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
> Acts 2:38-39
Who is the promise of salvation for? “Everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.” Peter offers forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ to all who were there. The offer is genuine. But who is the promise intended for by God? For those whom He calls to Himself. This could not be clearer from what Peter says. And taking it to the level of the whole world, if the promise was effectually (meaning the benefits of the promise will indeed be applied) to every single person who ever lived, then would it not follow that the promise must be followed through to every person by God, and that every person would be saved in the end? Otherwise, what kind of promise is that? It would be null and void, would it not? We know how the story ends though. The promise is true because God made it and He is true. And sadly, people reject the Gospel and will indeed perish, just as we are told in Revelation. So if the promise of salvation is effectual for everyone in the world, why are there still people who will be damned? It’s because the promise is for people God has foreordained to inherit salvation, not based on any foreseen works or faith, but simply because God was pleased to graciously give them the gift of life. The offer to all is genuine, but for the most part, it falls on unrepentant, deaf ears of people who reject the Gospel. And the only reason anyone accepts the message is because the Holy Spirit went before them to open up their minds, ears, eyes, and hearts to the message of the Gospel in order that they could not help but believe it.
Someone may disagree and say, “But Peter says, ‘For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off.'” Yes he does say this. This is the call to everyone that they may be saved. And I affirm it with him, all of you repent and believe in the name of Jesus Christ and you will be saved! However, he qualifies this statement by adding the phrase, “Everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” So people are saved by being called by God. Is this not so? In essence he’s saying, “The promise is for all of you, all of you whom the Lord calls to Himself.” So he makes a general statement in offering salvation, and then qualifies it to say everyone whom the Lord calls to Himself. This is a very important qualification to the statement, because so many people simply want to stop and say the promise is for all, but Peter is very clear here. The promise is genuinely offered to all, but no one will believe unless God does a work to first replace their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. God’s ultimate intention is to save specific people whom He has foreordained. Predestination. This is a scary and frightening word to many of you …
But the foreordination of God of certain people to salvation answers a question that all of us should and must ask. We all know that none of us can boast in the fact that we believed while others didn’t correct? So here’s the question: when two people, side by side, both attentively hear the same Gospel message, why does one believe while the other rejects it? If you say the other guy just saw the message to be true, I ask you, why did he see it to be true? Prior to this individuals conversion, do you not agree that he had a heart of stone, as the scriptures attest? And what is a heart of stone? An unrepentant, unbelieving, faithless heart, right? So again, why did he believe? Can he boast that he was more spiritual, more knowledgable, wiser than the other guy? No! They were both wicked sinners, just as the scriptures say about all of us. This would be exalting himself above the level of God for his own conversion! How dare he ever do this! His conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit alone. The Spirit worked in His heart to open his eyes and ears to the message of the Gospel. Otherwise, he would have rejected it just like every other unbeliever, because that’s our nature to reject God and deny His glory. The reason you and I are believers, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, is not because God thought you were a better person in any manner, but because God chose to move in your heart to change your nature, in order that you would be inclined to Him and believe in His Son Jesus Christ for salvation. Grace alone saved you, and even now, grace alone changes you. We are not saved by Grace + Faith Alone. But we are saved by Grace Alone through Faith Alone in Christ Alone. And this grace was decisively purchased on the cross on your behalf. His blood effectually and actually secured your pardon from wrath. How wonderful this is! We can boast of nothing in ourselves, but it is simply God’s mercy that you are saved, for the sake of Christ’s glory.
Let us fall at His feet in adoration for His mercy poured out on us by His Holy Spirit!