In this classical painting, Peter is shown receiving the keys of the Kingdom from Jesus in keeping with the declaration of Jesus in Matthew 16:19.  And according Luke in the Acts, Peter used these keys to open the doors of the Kingdom to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and to the Samaritans (Acts 8), and finally to the Gentiles in the home of Cornelius (Acts 10). The keys were not only entrusted to Peter, but to the other Apostles of the Lamb, and to the Ascension-gift Apostles like Paul and Barnabas. This message is about how Peter used the keys to bring the sons of Israel into the Kingdom on the Day of Pentecost.

Introduction: Repent, get yourself baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, be added to the Lord’s Church, and find placement in the family of God under apostolic and pastoral governmental oversight...This is the New Testament pattern for being born again, being translated into Messiah’s Kingdom, and being added to the Church. We see this pattern very clearly in the book of Acts and throughout the New Testament!

One of the reasons for the present mess in the Church is that many ministers have substituted the modern "invitation" system in place of what Ern Baxter called, “the Peter Package.”

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…”

But this is not the pattern followed by the apostles! It is not the way people were brought into Christ's Kingdom 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 means by which sinners called on the Name of the Lord for salvation was by getting themselves baptized into the Name!

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 wrath of God coming on that generation, that they might be translated into the Kingdom of God’s Son, and be 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 problem (this new system) 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? Look at Acts 2:37ff ; please note Peter has just preached the Gospel of the Kingdom, and now he is telling the Jews how to be saved.  Ern Baxter called this, “the Peter Package”.

Five definite steps involved in full Kingdom Initiation:

First, "Repent…renounce all right to self-determination…renounce Satan, the world, and the self-life…" My friend Don Atkin defines repentance as “changing governments.”

Second, “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.

Peter was an apostle of the Lamb, commissioned by the Lord Jesus Himself to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.  Surely, he understood what it takes for a person to be saved or born again? He commanded his fellow Jews,  "Repent and get yourself baptized into the Name of Jesus Christ" or baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Today, we must rediscover what Peter and the early apostles understood:

Baptism is the Kingdom means of salvation by which you put off the old man and put on Christ! To get yourself baptized into the Name of Jesus Christ, is to get yourself baptized into His death and into His resurrection! In order words baptism in water is the way in which a person practically enters into Christ’s death and resurrection which actually saved or regenerated us 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?)

      Third, after repenting and being baptized into Jesus Christ, then we are to 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 and I might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit! (See John the Baptist’s testimony.) The Holy Spirit comes to live inside of all who obey the Gospel, as the indwelling Christ. The Lord Jesus is presently enthroned at the right hand of God in heaven; it is the Holy Spirit who actually comes to dwell within our hearts.

      The Holy Spirit 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.

      Fourth, we are added to the Church…It is important to note, that when we are born again or initiated into messiah's Kingdom, we are immediately added to the general assembly or the Church in heaven… (See Hebrews 12:22-24). According to Hebrews 12, when we repent, get ourselves baptized into Christ’s death and raised into His life, we automatically become members of Christ's general assembly, the Church of the first-born Son of God…the body of the Messiah. You and I don’t join the Church of our choice; No, no, the Holy Spirit Himself adds us individually to the general assembly, the body of Christ!

      But after the Holy Spirit adds us, He puts us in the body of Christ as it pleases Him! You and I must each find placement in a locality or city in an allotment of believers (what we call a local church) under valid (properly related or connected) 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)  The point I am making is that Christ's Church is one, universal Church? It is made up of tens of thousands of allotments joined together through apostles and elders as one Church in a city, region, nation, and throughout the earth. It is important for the modern Christian to fully begin to understand that Christ's Church is really one general assembly, before it is the tens of thousands, even millions of allotments.

      Finally the fifth and last step, after you and I have been added to the Lord's Church and found proper placement in an allotment of believers in a locality (City), then we must voluntarily submit ourselves to the God-appointed overseers of Christ's Church to be taught to obey Christ’s commands.  In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commanded His apostles,  “teaching them to do all I have commanded you…(Matt.28: 19-20).”

      In I Timothy we learn that Paul the apostle left Timothy at Ephesus as his apostolic deputy to set in order the things that were lacking in the Church there and to teach the disciples, the sons and daughters of the Kingdom of God, “how to behave in the House of God.” Scholars observe the New Testament Epistles have both a doctrinal and practical section, the practical instructing the sons and daughters of God how to behave as members of the family of God.

      No comments (Add your own)

      Add a New Comment


      Comment Guidelines: No HTML is allowed. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Thanks.