THE CONVERSION OF THE THREE THOUSAND

THE Book of Acts is a record of the preaching of the

apostles, and the conversions that ensued as a
result. The apostles were guided at all times by the
Spirit of God. These conversions are recorded as ex-
amples for all ages and all peoples. What was preached
by the apostles should be preached to-day; what was
required by them as conditions of pardon should be
required to-day; the church which they established —
the body of Christ — should be held up before the people
of to-day in all of its original purity.

The conversion of the three thousand is significant
because it is the first case of pardon under the new
covenant. Peter had been given the authority to state
the terms of pardon by the Master (Matt. 16:19).
They were stated on this occasion and they have never
been changed. What was done by the three thousand
to receive remission of sins must be done by all sinners
under the gospel dispensation. Let us note the things
that occurred in this conversion.

Conversion is the process of turning to God. We
often speak of ” steps” in conversion. We think that
it had better be called a process involving three changes
— a change of mind, a change of will, and a change of

relationship. To speak of ” steps’ ‘ implies too much
formality.  (Acts 2:14-47)

1. Preaching the gospel (Acts 2:14-36). Peter
preaches a wonderful sermon under the immediate in-
fluence of the Holy Spirit. He preaches the three facts
of the gospel — the death, burial and resurrection of
Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4). He shows how the Scriptures
are fulfilled in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. By his
preaching they are convicted of the sin of crucifying
the Lord with their own wicked hands.

2. Believing. There is no mention of faith, but we
know they believed what Peter preached, else they
would not have asked what they must do to be saved.
They believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God —
that is, some three thousand of them did. In anguish
they cried out: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
This was the change of mind.

Peter’s answer is too clear for misconception. It
was dictated by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2: 38, 39). They
were not told to do as their consciences directed. They
were told certain specific things to do, on the doing of
which depended the remission of their past sins and the
gift of the Holy Spirit. We analyze the passage as
follows :

“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the
name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and ye
shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The gift of
the Holy Spirit has reference to the indwelling of the
Holy Spirit by faith, which is the happy possession of
every obedient believer of the gospel (1 Cor. 6:19;
12: 13). Perhaps a better rendering would be “and ye
shall receive the Holy Spirit as a gift” (Gal. 3:2).

“For the promise” (that made to Abraham — Gen.
22 : 15-18 — for the fulfillment of which the Jews had
long been looking) “is unto you, and your children”
(to you Jews and your posterity), “and to all that are
afar off” (the Gentiles — for it was several years after
that before the gospel was ever preached to a Gentile),
“even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” How
does He call men? Through the preaching of, the gos-
pel (2 Thess. 2:14),

3. Repentance. They turn “from darkness to light,
from the power of Satan unto God.” They manifest
their repentance in their obedience to His command to
be baptized (Acts 2:41). They show that this repent-
ance is genuine by their Christian works (Acts 2:42).
This was the change of will and life.

4. Baptism. The last step. They were baptized for
the remission of sins. This changed their relationship.
Immersion was the only action known at that time.
Baptism is immersion, and immersion is baptism. It is
useless to talk of the modes of baptism. Baptism im-
plies a specific action; and that action is immersion. A
verb can not possibly express three unsynonymous
actions. When I walk to a certain place, I walk; and
that does not mean that I crawl or run. Baptism is a
burial; and is consummated in a resurrection (Rom. 6:
3, 4; Col. 2:12).

How could three thousand have been immersed in
one day? It doesn’t say that Peter did it alone. It
doesn’t say that the apostles alone did it. One person
can be baptized, immersed, in one minute. At that
rate, the twelve apostles could have immersed the entire
number in one day. But there were some one hundred
and twenty present (Acts 1:15). In addition, each

one baptized had the authority to immerse others. Thus
we can readily see that the three thousand were easily
immersed in one day.

Conversion is the process of turning to God. Faith
changes the mind. Repentance changes the life. Bap-
tism changes the relationship. The sinner hears the gos-
pel, believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and
his personal Saviour, turns to God, and is baptized into
Christ as an outward evidence of his faith. Then he is
‘ ‘ added to the church by the Lord” (Acts 2 : 47). They
did not “join” church — they were “added to the
church by the Lord.” This adding is done in heaven
(Heb. 12:23). The name is recorded on the pages of
the Lamb’s book of life. Church rolls are insignificant.
Pardon is not something done in us, but something done
in heaven for us.

Note the simplicity of this process. What a con-
trast from the procedure of modern times. The con-
summation of the process put them in the body of
Christ — their past sins were blotted out. The way lay
before them — the way through Christ to the Father.