“Be saved from this perverse generation”
(Acts 2:40)

Peter described his generation as perverse. The basic meaning of the Greek word [σκολιός] is crooked, not straight. Figuratively it refers to something different from what it ought to be. It describes behavior that is depraved, degenerate and immoral.

Is our generation depraved, degenerate and immoral, different from what it ought to be? “We know that ... the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). Peter’s appeal is certainly still applicable: “Be saved from this perverse generation!”

Are we part of this crooked generation?

We were born into it and we share responsibility for it. None of us is what we ought to be, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

“Your iniquities have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:2).

How can we be saved from this crooked generation?

Salvation is possible by the grace of God through Jesus Christ: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Through Jesus our sins can be forgiven. When Peter’s hearers asked, “What shall we do?” he replied: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).

We must repent to be saved.

To repent is to be sorry for our sins, turn away from a life of sin, and put God first in our lives by doing His will from day to day.

Jesus came to call sinners to repentance (Mathew 9:13). He said that everyone must repent or perish (Luke 13:3). He said that “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47).

We must be baptized to be saved.

“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).

Peter said, “Every one of you” must be baptized. Jesus gave His followers the assignment: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:15, 16).

Christian baptism is a burial. We are buried with Christ in baptism (Colossians 2:12). The Greek word for baptism means immersion. Many people think they have been baptized, when they were never “buried with Christ.” Their so-called baptism was not an immersion.

Christian baptism is for the forgiveness of sins. Many people’s baptism is not valid because - although they were immersed - they were not baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

Forgiveness comes through the sacrificial death of Jesus, who “loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5). Our sins are washed away at baptism (Acts 22:16).

Through baptism we are united with the death of Christ: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3, 4). We are saved at baptism because it is a participation in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

Spiritual rebirth occurs at baptism. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5).

To believers who had been buried with Christ in baptism (Colossians 2:12) Paul wrote: “God has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13, 14).

Thus, God saves us from this crooked generation by grace when we are born again by being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

During the summer of 1961, after graduating from university, I participated in two evangelistic campaigns in western Canada. We worked one month at Salmon Arm, British Columbia and one month at Edmonton, Alberta. One Saturday at Salmon Arm, brother and sister Armstrong invited our group to spend the day at their summerhouse on Shuswap Lake.1

They told us about their conversion to Christ. They lived in California where brother Armstrong sold insurance. He was a member of the Million Dollar Round Table, a professional association of people who sell at least a million dollars’ worth of insurance each year.

Since they had been active members of a Baptist church for many years, brother Armstrong was greatly annoyed when members of the church of Christ suggested that he was not yet a Christian because in the Baptist church he had not been baptized for the remission of sins.2

To prove them wrong, brother Armstrong decided that when they went to their cabin in Canada for a holiday the next summer, he would make a thorough study of what the Bible says about salvation. He studied at a table in front of a big window with a view of the lake and the mountains.

Sister Armstrong said she remembered the day, after they had been studying for two weeks, when brother Armstrong suddenly sprang up from the table and started pacing back and forth.

His Bible was open to Acts 2:38. “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.’”

He picked up his Bible, read the verse again, laid it down, and started pacing some more. Then he exclaimed: “That is exactly what it says! Be baptized for the remission of sins!”

He had known that verse from memory for years, but had never really noticed what it said.

The next day they drove 700 kilometers to the nearest church of Christ they knew about, so they could be baptized into the body of Christ. There were congregations much closer, but they did not know about them.

Christians shine as lights in this crooked generation.

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life” (Philippians 2:12-16).

To work out our salvation does not mean that we earn our salvation but that we are to elaborate or flesh out our salvation, to develop it to its intended fullness. This is not easy “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” We need God’s help! He works in us when we hold fast the word of life. At baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

Paul describes this unfolding process: “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Colossians 1:9-12).

Our calling is “to shine as lights in the world,” to “become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.”

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”3

The gospel of Christ calls everyone “to be saved from this crooked generation.” “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Forgiveness of sins is available through faith in Christ. We must repent and dedicate our lives to God. When we are born again spiritually by obeying God’s command to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, He transfers us out of the darkness of this crooked generation into the kingdom of His Son, into the church of Christ.

With God’s help, we then work out our salvation with fear and trembling to become blameless children of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.


1 Shuswap is an H-shaped mountain lake in British Columbia with a shoreline of 1000 km.

2 Evangelical churches do not baptize for the remission of sins as commanded in Acts 2:38. They practice believer’s baptism by immersion, but only as a symbol of having been saved already, not as a requirement for salvation. They believe salvation is by faith only although James 2:24 teaches otherwise.

3 Luke 8:8.

Published in The Old Paths Archive