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Sunday, 9 August 2015

Acts part 5 Peter's amazing sermon.

Building the right foundation part 5

 Acts 2:14-41

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptised, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

If I were asked to put a title to Peter's sermon I might just entitle it: “Truly Understanding Pentecost.” The sermon seems to be Peter preaching off the cuff in many respects. After all when did he prepare? He seems to have been able to explain what was going on from his former understanding. It is often thought that Peter was some sort of blundering buffoon when he was with Jesus, he often opened his mouth only to put his foot in it! But on this occasion he was thoroughly capable of clearly and accurately explaining what was going on. As we consider this most amazing sermon we can see that it was:

  1. Biblical.
  2. Powerful.
  3. Effective.

We will look at these points in turn and hopefully be inspired to want such preaching in our church. The whole point of us considering our “Building the right foundation” series is that we go back to the beginning of the New Testament church and discover how we ought to operate as the church here in east Cornwall. The weekly sermon ought to be instructive and powerful and having great effect upon all who hear it. It is a sad thing when we hear of boring or pointless sermons that have to be endured. Peter's congregation on that day had been amazed at the events, they were perplexed and confused and asking questions about these strange happenings were all about; therefore the disciple who fully understood had a responsibility to tell all who were interested. Peter stood up as their spokesman and on their behalf explained what was happening. It is clear that the others who had been recipients of God's gift on that day were fully supportive of what Peter was declaring. I am sure that they were in their spirits praying for and urging him on as he clearly explained or preached the truth. The result of this sermon of Peter's was that those who were confused at it's beginning by it's conclusion were fully informed and also blessed of God. We should always have this as our aim for all sermons preacher from our pulpit. A sermon is purely an explanation of God and His purpose for all situations of life. To be preached is a most positive thing and is not a dictatorial diatribe as many believe it to be. It is also more than a homily which suggests a moralistic thought for the day. The sermon is the food and drink that we all need for us to be able to survive the week ahead therefore it ought to be well done as was Peter's.

We see firstly that his sermon was:


Peter here teaches us at a base level something important about preaching is that he appeals to scripture alone in order to explain the events that had just taken place. Before we go any further please understand that we can and must trust the bible to address all of the confusions that we or others might have concerning God's work in this world today.

The bible must always be our prime source for preaching and teaching just as it was for Peter.

The next problem that we might have is: whereabouts in the bible do we go for help? Peter had no problem appealing to three different passages for his explanation. Firstly he appeals to the prophesy of Joel and then to Psalms 16 & 110. The question that this raises is why he chose those passages.

This sermon is recorded by Luke and as such is inspired by the Spirit of God. As preachers today we cannot claim that our sermons are inspired by the Holy Spirit in the same way but we can say that if they are true to bible truth then they are under the inspiration of scripture and are helpful for directing the hearers to an understanding of God's truth. Even Paul was aware that not all that he said was truly Spirit inspired because he warned the Galatian church that if he or an angel of light were to preach another gospel then let them be accursed. Our preaching must be biblical and accurate in order that it be helpful. Any sermon preached that is not either biblical or true must be discounted; it as anathema to God.

Why does Peter choose Joel's prophesy?

A quick explanation as to what Joel was prophesying helps us greatly in this matter. Peter did not simply suck his favourite passage from his thumb and twist the passage to mean something for which it was never intended. Sadly that is exactly what many preachers tend to do. Peter took into account the context and content of Joel's prophesy. Joel was prophesying in Israel at a time when they had been taken over by an enemy from the North. The enemy had stripped the land bare and left the people without food and wine.

Remember God's promise to His people before they went into the land was that it would be a land of security and of plenty and as long as they remained faithful then the people would be safe and secure there. The land would supply all that they needed. Clearly things had changed and they were no longer safe in their own land and they were starving. They were in fact under God's judgement due to their sinful ways. God through Joel explained their situation to them and then appealed for them to repent upon which restoration would come and they would then be once again safe in the land. After a time in captivity that partially came true and they returned to the land but it was never the same.
Joel had said that God would fully restore all that they had lost but only a fraction of the nation ever returned and the land never fully belonged to them again. They longed for the day of the Lord that Joel spoke of when they would once again be the people of God who benefitted from His blessing. They expected an Anointed One to come who they called Messiah, (which is where his quotes from the Psalms comes in!) He would restore all things. His day would be marked by signs and wonders where God's Spirit would be poured out which would be authenticated by men and women prophesying and signs of fire, smoke and darkness to herald the day. We do not have time today to consider all of these things but personal study of the Exodus would help to understand why these signs are so important. The result of this day would be that anybody who called on the name of the Lord would be saved.

Peter rightly declared that the events on that day of Pentecost were the fulfilment of Joel's prophesy!
We also must ask why he quotes Psalms 16 & 110. This is as proof that as he declares Jesus is the Messiah who by God's appointment would bring about the salvation of all who call upon the name of the Lord. Peter is applying Old Testament truths to both the amazing event of the day and also to authenticating Jesus as Lord. They all knew that Jesus had been crucified, all Jews were looking for Messiah. They were guilty of crucifying Jesus and now Peter is declaring Him to be the Messiah that David spoke of. Scripture not only explains the situation but it also condemns sin. Peter uses these passages to apportion what the death of Jesus really means to his hearers.

People often ask the preacher what right he has to condemn others as sinners. The honest preacher must say in truth that he has no righteousness of his own therefore he has no right to judge others but it is the truth of scripture that condemns sin it also offers a way of escape from condemnation. We must refrain from giving the impression that we are holy Joe's but that we declare the truth only from the scripture, the preaching of which will accomplish the purpose for which God sends it. We are all sinners in receipt of grace which was freely given when we called upon the name of the Lord which ought to cause us to preach Jesus:


It is good to remember here that before this event the disciples were a fearful bunch who were hidden away in a room awaiting God's gift. But now they have experienced something that is so powerful and wonderful that they can do no other than tell all who will listen that these amazing things are attributed to Jesus.

The people were confused and thought that what they saw and heard was the effect of drunken revellers. Peter could not leave them in confusion and simply had to tell them the truth. We would do well to take a lesson from Peter here. Just consider that our salvation is just as powerful as was Peter's. Faith in Jesus is confusing to others: why then do we leave them in confusion rather that explain what it means to be a Christian.

Perhaps the reason that we do not hear of many calling upon the name of the Lord is simply because we do not tell many about Jesus.

As we read through Peter's sermon another outstanding feature is his passion. He holds nothing back, he accuses his hearers of crucifying Jesus who is both Lord and Messiah. He tells them that Jesus is God's Anointed One and they are guilty of His death. Peter was not afraid to say it as it was but he does so with passion and authority.

Can you feel the passion of the preacher?

Peter is full of passion for the message. He preached powerfully. Look at verse 40: Peter used many other words and he bore witness to Jesus. He exhorted them to respond to the message. He was preaching with great passion and desire to see the people respond. He was not afraid to plead that they call on the name of the Lord and be saved.

I get somewhat wearied by some of the preaching that I hear. It may be theologically clear and accurate. I do know where to go to hear a good sermon but it is so often without the power that Peter here is displaying. Our preaching is so often cerebral and empty. We might not be able to fault the truth contained within and we might be thrilled by the great teaching but if it is dead formality then it produces dead and formal Christians who belong to dead and formal churches.

At the Mustard Seed we need passionate and powerful preaching and teaching that is thoroughly biblical and without compromise. Peter demonstrates that this can be the case and he also shows how it can be achieved. Preaching and teaching is fundamental to the church and as such we will build our church when our preaching is true, powerful and passionate. Then it will be:

The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Word of God preached will be effective in that it will accomplish that for which God intends. That was clear on the day of Pentecost, 3000 souls were won for heaven. Peter's word was received by them, they were baptised and saved. They clearly called upon the name of the Lord and were converted. The word accomplished it's purpose on that day as it has always done. Sometimes there are many conversions and on other occasions it seems to be falling upon deaf ears. The one thing that we can say is that the word is always effective. This is true also for us today even though we see so few conversions. God's purpose for is for us is that we declare the gospel to unbelievers. The results of gospel preaching are His sovereign work, He brings about conversions by His choice.

We must be committed to preaching the truth which is fully effective. There was another amazing result from Peter's preaching that must not be overlooked, not only were 3000 saved but they were also baptised. This simply means that they were immediately obedient. Baptism is an outward declaration of belonging to the people of God. These new converts were immediately obedient to God's command. In this there is little wonder that the early church were effective; obedience is the evidence of a work of God's grace in the individuals heart. Remember again back at the time of the Exodus God promised that the people would prosper if they were obedient. The church prospered in those early days because they were obedient.
Why is our church struggling?

Is it due to yours or my disobedience? Are you baptised and have you declared your commitment to the people of God in this place. We will come back to this in weeks to come but if you are not baptised and want to know more then talk to one of the leaders and we will explain what it means. Being baptised is simply a demonstration of your obedience to Jesus' command which is to all who have called upon His name and have been saved.

Peter preached biblically and as such has set in place a pattern for gospel preaching for the church. If the bible is not central to all of our teaching then we are being disobedient to God's calling. Peter also preached powerfully and with great passion and was not afraid to be persuasive in his presentation of the gospel. He fully explained the gospel and gave an impassioned call to repentance. He had been a recipient of grace from the Lord Jesus and knew what it means to be repentant and in receipt of forgiveness. This was the motivation for such preaching, our experience of salvation is no less powerful and effective.

Do we have the same desire that Peter had?

Peter's gospel preaching also came with clear instruction to be obedient. He told them that they must be baptised, I wonder why baptism is relegated to a personal choice for believers in much of our preaching? It was am imperative to Peter and was taken seriously by the new converts. As we re-set the foundation of our church we must bring this principle to the fore of what we teach. Have you been obedient to the clear instruction of scripture and been baptised?

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