Continued from Part 1: The Birth of a Preacher.
After Peter stands up and begins to deliver this powerful sermon, we are able to kind of dissect it and see what the characteristics of the sermon are, in fact.There are a few things that are worth noticing about this sermon that Peter delivers, and honestly, what he gives us in the space of about 21 verses that follows is:
A Blueprint for Sermons
If a person were constructing a seminary course in how to preach effectively, they could honestly take this sermon as a blueprint. Because in it we will see, as we go through, that it contains the stuff that a man needs in order to be effective in the pulpit.
Look there at verse 14 again;
But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them:
These words “lifted up” in the Greek carry with them the extended meaning of speaking with the authority of the Holy Spirit. The words literally mean ‘a loud and grave oration.’ I know you, as our congregation, have heard plenty of loud and grave orations from your pastors haven’t you? This word ‘grave’ speaks of gravity. There is a weightiness to what is being said. It has some ‘meat on the bones’ so to speak. So the first thing he did right was to speak with authority and gravity.
Likewise, the pulpit these days should be a place where the words are filled with meaning. They should carry some weight to them.
[box] We don’t stand here on our own authority. If we did you could feel free to ignore us. We stand here on the authority of God and his Word. So as such, you then become obligated, as believers, to not only hear us, but to put into practice what you hear.[/box]
The fact that we use a pulpit to preach from is not just so we look all ‘important’ to you guys. It is related to giving the weight to the words of God that is necessary. We reverence his Word — we give weight to the fact that he has called us to deliver these words. One way we give weight is the manner in which we deliver it. Notice Peter stood up. He wasn’t at a special counter built in lieu of a pulpit on a bar stool with his Starbucks there.
Peter stood like a man and spoke with gravity and authority.
Speaking with Authority
The second thing we notice is in his opening words to them. Look there at the end of verse 14:
“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. Acts 2:14,15
Peter is undoing their false notions about the men gathered. He explains that, “They are not drunk. It is only 9 o’clock in the morning. What you might think is happening is not happening at all. But let me tell you what is happening.”
Speaking What is Reasonable
Peter in his opening words is showing that he is being reasonable. That is number two — a reasonable defense. He is speaking truth into the situation and showing the reasonable nature of his position. One of the compelling things for the culture of that day and time was a good rhetorical argument. The Greeks, in particular, truly loved the sound of their own voices. If they were going to be persuaded of the truth of anything, it would be after a lengthy discourse of some sort laying out the truth and reasonableness of their position. You see it in Plato’s republic, which is one long rational discourse. You see it in Acts chapter 17. Paul addresses the men of Greece, and he uses reason and logic to prove to them that God exists. He uses a lengthy argument with lots of fact in it. This was a very cultural thing. They loved the use of reason to have a point proven to them. Peter is beginning today with reason. He says to them in essence, “Let’s be reasonable — it’s only 9 O’clock. There must be some other explanation.”
Speaking What is Scriptural
Then in verse 16, he gives us the explanation which is the next piece of the blueprint.
That was uttered through the prophet Joel:
If a man will preach with true authority and gravity, if a man will be the most reasonable of all, it will be when his sermon is thoroughly scriptural. It will be weighty, reasonable and thoroughly seasoned with scripture. Peter begins this sermon with a quote from the prophet, Joel. He follows this up, very shortly, with a quote from Psalm 16 and then finishes with one from Psalm 110. Peter is speaking to a Jewish audience, and what could possibly carry more weight with them than to say to them, “The things that you are witnessing are a fulfillment of prophecy from your own Holy book? What you are seeing lines up with what you believe regarding the Old Testament. He can really appeal to no higher authority than what he already has.
Likewise, when your pastors want to be taken seriously at all, we can do no better than refer you to scripture as your guide. Outside the pulpit, you can listen to what I say or ignore it with impunity. Those around here who know me well, ignore me the best. There is no penalty for ignoring my restaurant recommendations. 🙂 There is nothing much that comes of my telling you to listen to a certain kind of music or a certain band that I am fond of. Pastor Mark can tell you that chicken fried steak is the greatest of all foods, and we can take or leave that advice. But when we stand in this holy desk, and we proclaim to you that — scripture has given us something to live by, then as a Christian, you are duty bound to listen and to heed.
This is the reason that we don’t speak on our own authority, but rather point you to the word of God. This is why we insist on preaching like we do. This is the reason that our words, when we are up here, carry any weight at all. Peter knew that he could get this crowd’s attention by pointing to the prophet Joel. And in a moment, he had them hooked. They were going to stick around and listen to what he had to say.
Effective Preaching should be Christocentric
The other components of this blueprint for preaching are not specifically found in what we are covering today, but are definitely in the rest of the sermon.
The fourth of those is that it was Christ-centered. Christocentric is the big word that we use for that. It pointed to Christ. In the very next verse after what we are covering for today, Peter says, “Men of Israel hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth.” He doesn’t mince words. He doesn’t wait around for a better time to bring these things up. He launches head long into telling them the reason they had been all gathered up into one place. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. Curiosity got the best of them — they all gathered up to see the freak show. Some guys are out of their heads at 9 in the morning. Instead of that, they are immediately hit with the prophet Joel and the news that they personally had a hand in killing the Messiah. That is a lot to digest first thing in the morning. You think it is tough to drink new wine early in the morning, just stumble into this scene and have Peter stand up and say to you, ” Good morning guys — we have been waiting on you!”
You will see, next week, that Peter absolutely peels the bark off of them with his words. The cross of Christ has always been an offense, and I expect that it always will be.
[box] If you want to get people upset and ready to string you up, just begin to talk about Jesus. That makes people upset. You can talk about God — because they all have their own version of God. There is the big squishy God in their minds that never asks too much of anyone. He is just a big old teddy bear that is going to grant entrance into heaven which we don’t really believe in anyway after we live just like we want to. That is most people’s version of God.[/box]
But when you tell them that Jesus says he is the only way to heaven, well, to get really down home Texas for a minute — them’s fightin’ words! You can’t talk like that! Being Christocentric in your preaching is not going to win you many friends, because people don’t want to hear about Jesus. He is not a popular subject. The book of Isaiah prophesied about him that he was despised by men and acquainted with grief. But a sermon that is worth preaching is always going to have Jesus as the centerpiece of it.
Spurgeon said this about preaching Christ:
Paul said to the Corinthians:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
If we will preach to you with power and authority, if people will be brought to saving faith in our midst, it will be when Christ is the centerpiece of our preaching.
Then fifth and finally, in this blueprint for preaching we see that Peter was fearless. You may recall that this is somewhat of a change in him. Remember, he was very fearful for his own skin at the arrest of Jesus. He said, “I tell you, I do not know the man!” Now he is saying, “Not only do I know him, but I’m going to introduce you to him as well.”
The words which follow the ones for today are absolutely fearless.
Verse 23 says:
A few years ago, when Mel Gibson released the Passion of the Christ which depicted the suffering of Jesus at his crucifixion, there was quite a bit of push back at the time from Jews to the release of the movie.The reason that they gave was because they thought the movie would make it look like they had something to do with the death of Jesus. When I heard that, I had a reaction that may have been similar to your own if you heard that news story. It was, “Hello? You were responsible. You were 100% responsible for killing him!”
Peter is fearless in his preaching. He is not afraid, at least at this point in time, to tell them exactly what they have done. And he is not afraid of the consequences. Church tradition tells us that Peter was martyred for his preaching eventually. He was crucified in an upside down position for his bold stance for Christ. We see just a glimpse today of the sort of boldness that eventually got him killed.
We Need Preachers with More Godly Fearlessness
I would say if there was one of these steps that is the most missing in our current day climate in the church, it would have to be that of godly fearlessness. We have speakers who are reasonable and fairly Christ-centered. But often the boldness that I witness is akin to just being rude. It is a forwardness that is not related to scriptural authority but more of the opinions of the speaker. It is a kind of dressing down that occurs because the audience doesn’t measure up to the speaker’s expectations either in their response to what is being said — or some extra scriptural fashion.
[box] We need men in this generation who will boldly proclaim the word of God–unapologetically, unashamedly! We need those who will stand firmly on the authority of scripture and preach Christ as the only way to the Father. If our generation will be reached for Christ, it will be when they hear about him from the Word. And without apology, we must tell them their condition before God. [/box]
This is not rudeness — this is not being in some cool club that the audience is not. It is, in the truest sense, love and compassion for them that is simply missing when we wimp out up here and don’t tell people that they are headed to hell unless they repent and turn. There is a real sense in which the most loving thing we can do is to tell them the truth and to proclaim it boldly.
Those who struggle daily in their sins don’t need to hear that Jesus understands their condition and they are OK with God. They need to repent of the things that are an abomination to God and turn from them. That is the most loving thing we can tell them.
People are looking for acceptance, and they seek it out by asking God to accept them just like they are and never change them. God will take us just like we are, but he will never leave us there. He will lovingly, over time, mold us into the image of God’s son. The finished product doesn’t look a thing like we started out.
They need to hear that God hates sin, and he will punish it. In fact, he already has punished it through the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. So we need to appropriate that sacrifice in our own lives, in order to be right with him. Boldness, not rudeness,not expressed dissatisfaction with your congregation, but boldness is what is going to change lives for the better.
Church, I may not live all of my years without being thrown into jail. There may come a time in this country when we are not free any longer to do what we are doing. If I have one prayer about that time, it would be that if and when it comes, I pray that I would represent Christ well in whatever he has for me. Whether it be mild persecution or more severe, I pray that I would hold fast. And if that day never comes for me, our prayer should be for those who come after us that they will hold up well.
We need boldness in our pulpits. We need men that are men and not afraid of the consequences of speaking the truth. It is the most loving thing we can do.
Photo credit for church blueprint.
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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://koinoniachurch.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Pastor-Dan.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info] Pastor Dan Woody is a founding elder for Koinonia. He has been serving churches as a pastor for the past 13 years. He and his wife Peggy are the parents of two sons, Chris and Jonathan. Pastor Dan is currently studying for his Mdiv with The North American Reformed Seminary. His interests include music, and most outdoor sports like golf, hiking, tennis and fishing. [/author_info] [/author]