The Peter Package: A Saving Response to the Gospel

The following is a synopsis of my notes on Kingdom Initiation which is Lesson 2 of AD250 Non-Negotiables Of Apostolic Christianity. If you are interested in learning more click on http://ats.mrooms.net/login/index.php. This will take you to the Learning center of the Apostles Theological Seminary. After you register as a user you can enroll free of charge in this strategic course and take advantage of the rich and comprehensive course materials, chatrooms, and forums. The course key for admission into this clourse is BS250-Q107-4634-6458.

THE PETER PACKAGE: A Valid Response to the Gospel

Repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and be added to the Lord’s Church

This is the New Testament Pattern for being born again, entering Christ’s Eternal Kingdom and being added to His Church. We see this in the book of Acts and throughout the New Testament!

1. One of the reasons for the present mess in the Church is that many ministers have substituted the modern invitation system for “the Peter Package.”

a. The advocates of the modern invitation system would have us believe that on the Day of Pentecost Peter declared,

“Now I want every head bowed and every eye closed, and while James dims the lights and John plays softly on the organ, if you want to receive Jesus as your personal Savior, I want you to raise your hand and pray this simple prayer after me…”

This is not the pattern of the Apostles! It is not the way it was done in the First Century! Read the Acts of the Apostles. Read the Epistles! There is not one place in the New Testament where sinners were told to simply pray the sinner’s prayer. The way sinners called on the Name of the Lord was by getting themselves baptized into the Name!

b. Peter boldly commanded, “repent get yourself baptized into the Name of the Lord Jesus.”

Peter commanded them to obey the Gospel; He called for them to repent and come to the water that separates and divides…that they might be saved from a perverse generation and the coming wrath of God, translated into the Kingdom of God’s Son and added to the Church!
(See Acts 2: 37-41; Acts 8: 35-37; Acts 19: 5, 6; Acts 22: 16)


Present Invitation System Problems and Examples:

• Charles E. Hackett, the division of home missions national director for the Assemblies of God in the U.S. said, “A soul at the altar does not generate much excitement in some circles because we realize approximately ninety-five out of every hundred will not become integrated into the church. In fact, most of them will not return for a second visit.”

• In his book Today’s Evangelism, Ernest C. Reisinger said of one outreach event, “It lasted eight days, and there were sixty-eight supposed conversions.” A month later, not one of the “converts” could be found.

• In 1991, organizers of a Salt Lake City concert encouraged follow-up. They said, “Less then 5 percent of those who respond to an altar call during a public crusade . . . are living a Christian life one year later.” In other words, more than 95 percent proved to be false converts.

• A pastor in Boulder, Colorado, sent a team to Russia in 1991 and obtained 2,500 decisions. The next year, the team found only thirty continuing in their faith. That’s a retention rate of 1.2 percent.

• In November 1970, a number of churches combined for a convention in Fort Worth, Texas, and secured 30,000 decisions. Six months later, the follow-up committee could only find thirty continuing in their faith.

• A mass crusade reported 18,000 decisions—yet, according to Church Growth magazine, 94 percent failed to become incorporated into a local church.

• In Sacramento, California, a combined crusade yielded more than 2,000 commitments. One church followed up on fifty-two of those decisions and couldn’t find one true convert.

• A leading U.S. denomination reported that during 1995 they secured 384,057 decisions but retained only 22,983 in fellowship. They couldn’t account for 361,074 supposed conversions. That’s a 94 percent fall-away rate.

• In the March/April 1993 issue of American Horizon, the national director of home missions of a major U.S. denomination disclosed that in 1991, 11,500 churches had obtained 294,784 decisions for Christ. Unfortunately, they could find only 14,337 in fellowship. That means that despite the usual intense follow-up, they couldn’t account for approximately 280,000 of their “converts.”

What about God’s Word that says He is “able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). Either He wasn’t able to keep these professed converts, or His hand wasn’t in their profession of faith in the first place.

We are facing a fall-away rate of 84-97 percent. Some believe we need better follow-up. However, “following-up” with a false convert is like putting a stillborn baby into intensive care.

When did this Begin?

While there is debate over the exact origins of this practice, most agree that it came into prominence in the 1830’s with Charles Finney (1792-1875), who popularized it through the mourner’s bench or anxious bench (some today call it the “altar”).

Dr. Albert B. Dod, a professor of theology at Princeton Seminary at the time of Mr. Finney’s ministry, pointed out the newness of the practice and showed that this method was without historical precedent. In his review of Finney’s Lectures on Revival, Professor Dod stated that one will search in vain for a single example of this practice before the 1820’s. [4] Instead, history tells us that whenever the gospel was preached men were invited to Christ—not to decide at the end of a sermon whether or not to perform some physical action.

Finney believed that the new birth and revival were not miracles (i.e. something only God can do) but were states accomplished by means of the proper use of the will. He knew that to arrive at regeneration and, on a larger scale, revival, the will must be excited to action. Hence he developed the “new measures,” one of which was the “anxious bench.” In many ways, this anxious bench is the mother of our modern day invitationalism. Reacting to Finney’s method, theologian R.L. Dabney commented: “We have come to coolly accept the fact that forty-five out of fifty will eventually apostatize [fall away].”

On the other side of Finney was the veteran evangelist Asahel Nettleton (d. 1844), whose converts stood. For instance, in Ashford, Connecticut there were eighty-two converts, and only three spurious ones. In Rocky Hill, Connecticut, there were eighty-six converts and they all were standing strong after twenty-six years, according to their pastor. Nettleton rigidly refused to offer public altar calls, believing that it prematurely reaped what would turn out to be false converts. C. H. Spurgeon, the Victorian “Prince of Preachers,” thought similarly.

Billy Sunday, D.L. Moody, and Billy Graham are other evangelists who contributed to the widespread acceptance and use of the altar call.
Certainly, Graham is the one who is most related to the contemporary form of the altar call in use in many churches today.

What does the Bible teach?

2. Look at Acts 2:37ff. ( Ern Baxter, called this “the Peter Package”.)

Verse 37, please note Peter has just preached the Gospel of the Kingdom, and now he is telling the Jews how to be saved!  (See verse 40)

How many believe Peter was an apostle? How many believe he knew what to do to be saved?

a. "Repent…renounce all right to self-determination…renounce Satan, the world, and the self-life…"

1ll. Don Atkin defined repentance as “changing governments.”

b. “Get yourself baptized into the Name of Jesus Christ…”

This is something you do as an act of obedience. It is the way you actually receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. It is the N.T. way that you activate or release your faith. You may believe the Gospel fully, but until you actually do what God commands, it is not faith! Saving Faith is acting on the Gospel; it is obedience! And the way you actually obey the Gospel is you get yourself baptized.

Baptism is the means by which you put off the old man and put on Christ! You get yourself baptized into the Name of Jesus Christ, into His death and into His resurrection! Baptism is the way in which you enter experientially into Christ’s death and resurrection which took place 2000 years ago!

It is the circumcision of your heart. (Baptism is the cutting off of the flesh and the receiving of a new heart. See Colossians 2: 10-13)

It is the way in which you are translated out of the Kingdom of Darkness and into the Kingdom of God’s Dear Son (Col. 1:13).  (By the way, if we are already translated into the Kingdom of God’s Son at conversion, then according to the Apostle Paul, the Present Kingdom must be the promised Messianic Kingdom of David’s Son, rather than some future earthly Jewish Millennial Kingdom! How many Kingdoms does The Lord Jesus have?)

c. Then you receive the Holy Spirit…

This is God’s promise to the fathers of Israel. All the prophets of Israel promised that in Messiah’s Day, the age of Messiah’s Kingdom, God would pour out the Spirit upon all flesh!
This is the promise of God! It is one of the essential benefits of the New Covenant and the birthright of every believer! Everything Jesus did He did so you might receive the Holy Spirit! (John the Baptist’s testimony) The Holy Spirit is the indwelling Christ; The Lord Jesus is enthroned at the right hand of God in heaven; it is the Holy Spirit who actually comes to dwell within our human spirit, not the Lord Jesus.

The Holy Spirit Himself is the seal or witness of God the Father that we are the children of God! When we obey the Gospel and get ourselves baptized, we are actually entering into the New Covenant and setting our seal of obedience to the New Covenant. When God fills us with the Holy Spirit, He is setting His seal to the covenant.

We don’t need a minister to confirm or assure us that we are born again or saved.  God Himself assures us by filling us with the Holy Spirit.

d. Then we are added to the Church…

It is important to note, that we are immediately added to the general assembly or the Church in heaven… (Turn to Hebrews 12:22-24). When we repent, get ourselves baptized into Christ’s death and raised into His life, we become members of the General Assembly, the Church of the first-born Son of God…the body of Christ. This is automatic! You don’t join the Church of your choice; No, no, the Holy Spirit Himself adds you to the general assembly, the body of Christ!

But after the Holy Spirit adds you, He puts you in the body as it pleases Him! You find placement in a locality or city in an allotment of believers under true apostolic and pastoral oversight. (I Cor.12: 18; Psalm 68: 6, 18, Eph.4: 16; John 14: 1; II Sam. 7 10; I Peter 5:3)

How many understand that the Church is one? But it is made up of many allotments of believers. It is important to understand that the true Church is General assembly, before it is local.

e. Once you have find placement in an allotment (congregation) in a locality (City), then you voluntarily or freely submit yourself to be discipled or taught to obey Christ’s commands, “teaching them to do all I have commanded you…(Matt.28: 19-20).”

Ill. Paul left Timothy at Ephesus to set in order the things that were lacking and to teach the disciples there, the sons and daughters of the Kingdom of God, “how to behave in the House of God.”

Ill.  The Epistles all have a doctrinal section and a practical…See Ephesians… The practical sections teach the sons and daughters of God how to behave in the family of God or the "household of faith."

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