Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)
Preaching Jesus to a massive crowd of people, Peter told them all what they needed to do: Repent and be baptized. After telling them to repent and be baptized, Peter then told them what they could expect: you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In other words, the same wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit seen among the 120 disciples of Jesus could also be theirs. They saw the glorious work of the Holy Spirit among the disciples, and Peter told them that it was something that these people could take part in; they didn’t only have to be observers. This was part of the new covenant, promised in passages like Ezekiel 36:27: I will put My Spirit within you. This was truly the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It’s a remarkable promise – but was it only for those who heard Peter preach on that day? Not every promise in the Bible is for us. We have to be careful that we don’t become arrogant or presumptuous, thinking that promises are for us when they are not.
The good news is that Peter, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, specifically told us that this promise is for us today. The promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off. When Peter made that promise you were afar off. You were far off in geography, far off in culture, and far off in time. Since the promise is for all who are afar off, it can include people up to the present time.
It can be true for you. If you will come to God through Jesus Christ, coming in repentance and faith (true faith that will be expressed in actions such as baptism), you become part of God’s new covenant.
Peter did not say that the unbelieving, unaware children of his listeners should be baptized. He simply said that the promise of the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit were for all who would repent and believe with active faith, even to coming generations and all who are afar off.
How many are there afar off who will receive this promise of salvation and the Holy Spirit? As many as the Lord God will call. This doesn’t give a specific number, but John saw an uncountable multitude around God’s throne (Revelation 7:9). Anyone who will answer God’s call can receive this promise – and no longer be afar off, but now be brought near (Ephesians 2:13).
Today, thank God that though you were once afar off, you have been brought near!