Repentance, water baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit form the foundation for individual Christian lives as well as the foundation of the Church that Jesus is building.
Many Christians today think of salvation primarily in terms of heaven and hell. Their primary purpose for becoming a Christian is to escape hell. That is a good reason to be reconciled to God, but that is not the only reason Christ saves people. Peter’s “many other words” did not deal with heaven or hell. He dealt with overcoming the present evil generation. Stressing the beginning of the journey and not the journey itself gives Christians a wrong focus and emphasis. And, of course, the one mandate Jesus left the Church — to go into all eh world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
As Peter spoke, Rome was rapidly declining. The Jews had lived under the oppressive rule of Rome for 100 years. Immorality and darkness surrounded them. Now God was telling them how to overcome that evil generation and avoid the judgment that was surely coming upon them.
Believers today also need to overcome while living in the midst of an evil generation. They need to avoid being deceived by the present age. Tens of thousands of backsliders in the world today have not been able to live according to Peter’s “many other words” and have fallen back into deception and sin.
Believers in the first church stood on a foundation of repentance. They validated their faith by obeying Christ’s command to be baptized in water. They received the gift of the Holy Spirit. They were baptized in the Holy Spirit and moved in supernatural gifts and power. As a result, they enjoyed salvation and eternal life — a now relationship with the Lord and their heavenly Father (John 17:3). They did not have an experiential or doctrinal separation between the elements of this foundation in their thinking. They accepted the foundation simply and completely. A properly laid foundation leads everyone to experience these things.
The Church today has been weakened by the separation of these foundational elements. “Do I have to be baptized in order to go to heaven?” “Do I have to be filled with the Holy Spirit?” Do I need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit?” It can all be yours, the entire New Covenant package! Why settle for anything less?