09 Oct, 2010 Peter’s gospel preaching and our shame
What kind of things could we say when we preach the gospel? What things should we say? And how should we say them?
An easy answer is found in Acts 2 and 3, looking at two examples of what Peter said when he preached the gospel. These chapters don’t tell us everything he said – they are summaries, but good ones!
1/ Outline of what Peter said in his gospel message in Acts 2
2/ Outline of the same form Acts 3
3/ Lessons we can take from this
4/ Concluding challenge to you and me
In Acts 2 message outline (Peter’s)
1. Evidence for the Divinity and Messiahship of Jesus from two sources
a. Fulfilled prophecy (v25-28).
b. Their testimony (of having seen Jesus’ miracles – these being accepted by all as
having happened by his audience, as many of them had also heard of and seen the same
2. A call to change their allegiance to Jesus (repentance), and to publicly declare this to be their new belief (baptism) (v38).
3. The promise of the Spirit – this being included because the crowd were gathered in response to the manifestational (outward and seen) workings of the Spirit (Acts 2 is the day of Pentecost). This was also shared as a further evidence of Jesus’ identity (the gospel), as this outpouring also fulfilled prophecy (v39).
4. A call to leave the worlds ways – he addressed the sinfulness of our hearts and ways (v40)
5. He gave further explanation of Christ’s death and resurrection, telling of their significance and meaning.
In consideration of his manner of preaching, consider the following
1. It was a passion filled and emotive message
“…with many other words warning them, and pleading with them…” (v40)
– While emotive, this was not from an attempt to manipulate, but from genuine belief, care and concern. I’ll comment more on this later.
2. His heart was surrendered to God throughout
– It was a message for “…all whom the Lord our God will call.” (v39)
– What fruit did, or did not, comes from it was entirely up to God.
Lets consider another of his sermons:
Peter’s gospel message outline from Acts 3.
1. Evidence I: Miracles – an introduction to match the context where a cripple had just been healed before their eyes.
2. Explanation of Christ’s life – a servant, crucified, a righteous One, the author of life, and who was raised from death
3. Evidence II: Their testimony / experience (what they had seen)
4. Evidence III: How Jesus fulfilled Messianic prophecies (v18, 21-25)
5. The call to repentance (v19-20)
Lessons to take from this
1. What first occurs to me is that Peter’s sermons were well reasoned. He referred to multiple sources to establish evidence which His hearers could relate to, plausibly accept and also understand.
2. The next thing I notice is that he addressed sin directly, calling people out of the worlds ways.
Today many shy away from confronting their audiences with their sinfulness. They consider the message ‘outdated’, or not suited to modern audiences.
I suggest that sin, judgment and repentance are what we MUST preach. If we want to preach effectively to modern man I suggest we should not change the content, but the method. The gospel message is unchanging – we don’t change what we say, but, rather, the way that we say it!
3. To clarify a point, we do well to note is that Peter’s outline does not demonstrate to us the exact ‘correct’ content for preaching the gospel today. Some is transferrable (preaching Jesus, sin and repentance), but some is contextual (eg, preaching of prophecy to an audience of Jews and converts to Judaism who therefore understood about prophecy). So we take pointers only – we don’t go all legalistic on this.
4. But, the most important and relevant observation to me is that his preachings were truly (outrageously?) passionate. He ‘warned’ his audiences and ‘pleaded’ with them. It seems a great many have lost that kind of clarity in their faiths.
So much preaching today is dull and lifeless. Many today would consider it an embarrassment for a preacher to ‘plead’ with an audience to turn to Christ. The important question is, Do we believe what we are preaching or not? For, it seems to me that there can be no other type of preaching than that which is earnest, sincere, broken and passionate!
(by ‘broken’ I seek to distinguish that the exuberant passion comes from love, not arrogance)
If we really believed the gospel we claim to believe, I suspect our lives would be radically different to what they are now – I can see ways mine would be, and I wrestle with this.
Consider that Peter ‘pleaded’ with his audience.
All those with whom we are not sharing the gospel (the multitudes of them) with are created and eternal beings, just like us.
If we are not doing all we can to share Christ with them, this lack of fervency, urgency, passion and love will be to our eternal shame!
What weak examples we are of the love of Christ. May He help us – and may we be willing to actually change the ways we are living in whatever ways are needed.