Varying Responses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ
The book of Acts records various responses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. When the Apostles of Jesus Christ preached the gospel some illustrated a genuine interest (see Acts 2:12-13; 13:42-43). Many heard the gospel and "believed' (see Acts 4:4; 8:12; 13:48; 16:30-33; 17:34 and 18:8). The same gospel that brought joy to some caused others to be sore troubled (Acts 4:2) and jealous (Acts 13:45). When Felix and Drusilla heard the gospel they replied to Paul saying, "Go your way for this time and when I have a convenient season I will call for you" (Acts 24:24-25). Festus, after hearing the gospel message of Christ being resurrected from the dead and man's responsibilities to obey him said that Paul's much learning had driven him mad (Acts 26:24-25). King Agrippa heard Paul's sermon on Christ and said, "Almost you persuade me to become a Christian" (KJV o- Acts 26:28). Though there were varying responses many did hear, believe, confess, repent, and be baptized for forgiveness and added to the Lord's church. The Church grew exponentially during these early days (see Acts 4:4; 5:14; 6:1 etc.).
The consequences of the gospel message upon the messenger often had horrid results. Stephen was murdered because of his preaching (Acts 7:5456). Paul was often stoned and beaten for the words he preached (see Acts 14:19 and 2 Corinthians 11:22ff). He also was imprisoned for five years (two years in Caesarea and three years while traveling to Rome and in Rome as a prisoner). One thing that rises out of the depths of rejection, jealousy, murder, and people being sore troubled over the gospel message was that no matter how angry the gospel caused some it's progress would in no way be impeded (see Daniel 2:44-45 and Acts 26:14).
Many heard the gospel and did "believe" (see Acts 4:4; 8:12; 13:48; 17:34; 18:8). When the Philippian jailor asked Paul what he needed to do to be saved Paul answered saying, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your house" (Acts 16:31). What is fascinating about the book of Acts is that it sets out early to document the requirements of salvation. Acts 2:38 stands as a thesis statement of the book in relation to salvation. Men heard, believed, confessed, repented, were baptized, and encouraged to live faithfully all the days of their lives. Each case of conversion, after the initial sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2, must take into account the words of Peter. The book of Acts proves that "believing" is more than just making a mental decision to accept that Jesus is the Christ. Believing involves the hearing, confessing, repenting, being baptized, and purposing to live faithfully. The Apostle Paul, while preaching to those of Antioch, connects "belief" with "justification and the forgiveness of sins" (see Acts 13:38-39). To believe is to be justified of sins. Man is justified, according to Peter's Acts 2 sermon, by being baptized into Christ.
The book of Acts is a clear and concise work that exposes the reality of Christ, the existence of the kingdom of God (the church), and detailed instructions regarding what one must do to be added to this kingdom. Some accepted the gospel message and the terms of admission into the kingdom of God but many did not. Though majority of people throughout history, including today, reject Christ his kingdom continues to grow. How will you respond to the gospel message of salvation?
John C Robertson